Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Compromise Proposal for TJPA and CHSRA

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

by Rafael

over the past six months, San Francisco's Transbay Terminal Center (TTC) project has been the topic of numerous posts on both this blog and the Caltrain-HSR compatibility blog (index at the end of this post). So why am I revisiting this wretched topic yet again?

Well, as Henry Kissinger once famously paraphrased Sayre's Law: "The reason academic politics are so bitter is that so little is at stake." Right now, there's a $400 million grant application from the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) to the Federal Railroad Authority (FRA) at stake and, CHSRA is about to ask for $1.28 billion of its own just for the SF-San Jose segment. In addition, the state of California plus several Bay Area counties plus the city of SF are positioned to commit substantial funds of their own on behalf of taxpayers. This dispute is no longer academic, so somehow TJPA and CHSRA need to come up with a face-saving compromise. However, that's no reason to lock in every poor single poor decision each authority has made in this context to date.

My objective is to summarize the problems and, to suggest a variation that may be palatable to all sides (see map at end of post). I doubt this post will actually make a blind bit of difference either way in FRA's decisions on the respective grant applications. However, having stirred the pot vigorously, including off-line contacts with TJPA by way of a member of its Citizens' Advisory Council (CAC), I'd like to at least make sure I didn't leave this last stone unturned. So please, indulge me.

Note: just in case this isn't clear, all of the alternatives mentioned below are based on underground station facilities and approaches to them. (h/t commenter spence)

TJPA

San Francisco's Transbay Terminal Center was conceived as a joint effort by the city of SF, Alameda county's AC Transit and Caltrain to achieve two objectives:

  1. to extend the financial district into an area of urban blight south of Mission and,
  2. to relieve rush-hour congestion at the downtown BART stations (Montgomery and especially, Embarcadero)
The site selected to achieve this is the city-owned Transbay Terminal located roughly at Minna, 1st, Fremont and Natoma Streets. Completed in 1939, the structure was initially served by trolleys running on the lower deck of the Bay Bridge, hence the generous grade-separated access ramps now used by buses. The building isn't worth renovating as it doesn't meet modern seismic code but the ramps do.

To its credit, the city of SF set out to redevelop the entire area with transit access in mind to avoid increasing congestion on both the bridge and city streets. Land near the terminal that is currently used for at-grade parking lots is to be converted to multi-story buildings, a combination of office towers and affordable apartments.

San Francisco voters approved this concept 7:3 via SF city prop H(1999):
SECTION 2. As part of the extension of Caltrain downtown, a new or rebuilt terminal shall be constructed on the present site of the Transbay Transit Terminal serving Caltrain, regional and intercity bus lines, MUNI, and high speed rail, and having a convenient connection to BART and MUNI Metro. Said terminal shall be so designed and constructed as to:

(a) yield the highest possible transit use by residents and commuters;
(b) afford senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and other commuters with the most convenient connections between regional bus lines, MUNI, Caltrain, and BART;
(c) produce the highest density of foot traffic, in conjunction with foot traffic from the Caltrain station, to accommodate mixed use retail development;
[...]
(e) result in the lowest feasible combined costs for construction of the bus terminal and the Caltrain station, without sacrificing the aesthetic qualities of the terminal and station and their interface with surrounding development.

SECTION 3. [...] electrification of the Caltrain line from San Francisco to San Jose prior to or concurrent with the extension of Caltrain downtown [...] tunnel boring techniques [...]
The legal basis for the TTC project therefore requires construction of both a downtown train station for Caltrain and a transbay bus terminal for the benefit of city residents and commuters. The DTX tunnel and train station are neither optional nor were they an afterthought. Note the requirement for the "most convenient" and ADA-compliant pedestrian connectivity between Caltrain and BART/SF Muni subway in the downtown area.

Prop H also mandates Caltrain electrification prior to start of operations and a tunnel that is bored rather than excavated from above via cut-and-cover. The tunnel and railway station infrastructure were subsequently mapped to a second phase of the project because at San Jose's insistence, Santa Clara county refused to commit its share of the electrification funding in light of the sky-high cost of extending BART to Santa Clara. Section 3 explicitly rules out partial electrification, so SF could not proceed until CHSRA offered to come to the rescue. Shoot foot, reload.

TJPA interpreted point 2(c) to mean that the downtown train station would have to be physically underneath the bus terminal to maximize foot traffic and hence, lease revenue from a co-located shopping mall that is supposed to help pay for the project. Amazingly, it also believes this configuration will result in the lowest total construction cost (cp. point 2(e)), even though every tunnel curve excavated under existing buildings is extremely expensive. Shoot other foot.

The option of constructing tracks under nearby Beale Street to create a station that would be intermodal with both the bus terminal and with Embarcadero BART at Market Street was rejected for the following reasons: tunneling risk near the Bay Bridge anchorage, limited width that would require a multi-story station and, potential problems with box sewers under Embarcadero and Mission plus the foundations of older buildings between Market and Mission. There is also a desire to reserve Mission Street for a second BART line served by a second transbay tube, a very expensive project that may one day become indispensable.

An underground station under Main Street (best viewed in satellite mode, zoom in for details of track layout) and land just west of it would permit up to 11 staggered tracks in a single level, seven of them full length (1320'). Afaik, this was never studied, perhaps because it wouldn't generate enough foot traffic for the aforementioned retail outlets. It's all about the shopping, getting from A to B be damned.

The upshot of all this is that the design now features a "train box" with just six platform tracks parallel to Mission Street. The western end of all six lies roughly at the western end of the existing terminal building. In an effort to minimize tunneling cost, TJPA selected an approach via Townsend and 2nd rather than 3rd - let alone one via 7th and Minna or a station under Mission Street. The result is a sequence of three extremely tight curves in the final approach into the train box.



Note that the northern four tracks have since been extended to Main Street at CHSRA's request. The very expensive excavated tail tracks were moved to the southernmost tracks, which are nominally reserved for Caltrain. Harmonizing platform height to the level required for HSR would eliminate hard platform track assignments and hence, the need for tail tracks.

While trains can get around tight curves, this is not at all recommended if their axles are rigid. TJPA cites the example of the main station in Cologne (Germany) whose throat features a minimum curve radius of 550 feet. Please turn up the volume and watch the video below to get a sense of what wheel squeal on the top of the rail sounds like in the real world. Nails on a blackboard have nothing on this. In the TTC, the sound will be even more painful to passenger's ears as the acoustically hard surfaces of a tunnel and underground station tend to concentrate sound volume. The associated wear and tear on both wheels and rails also tends to increase rail/wheel noise emissions all down the line and/or maintenance overheads.



The curve at Townsend and 2nd is similarly tight and, TJPA's engineers and consultants have talked it into needlessly using only straight switches and constructing not two but three tunnel tracks all the way to 4th & Townsend. This forced the use of slow, labor-intensive sequential excavation over a conventional two-track tunnel boring machine.

Separately, Clem Tillier has pointed out problems with the configuration of support columns, including those on the platform tracks which may impede pedestrian flow to and from the island platforms. He has also lamented the lack of architectural grandeur below the surface, imposed by the inclusion of a full concourse level. He cites the interior of Berlin's Central Station as an example of what billions of dollars can buy you.

Note that TJPA claims the orientation of the train box retains the option of one day running trains to the East Bay via a transbay link for standard gauge services. This is not rquired by prop H(1999) and a bit of a crock, at least for HSR, if only because tunneling under the tall buildings between Main and Embarcadero would be prohibitively expensive. More to the point, there is zero room for dedicated HSR tracks between Oakland and Benicia. For the moment at least, there's insufficient demand for single-seat standard-speed service between SF and Sacramento to justify the construction of a fixed link for standard gauge tracks. For the price of just that, you could finance a ton of improvements to Amtrak CC, including bypass tracks and tilt trains for express service between Emeryville and Sacramento.

Summary of legitimate complaints against TJPA:
  • failure to anticipate that the catchment area of the SF HSR station spans multiple counties, meaning that high ridership depends critically on excellent connections to all existing high-capacity rail transit systems
  • failure to commit to an ADA-compliant pedestrian passage to BART/SF Muni
  • loud wheel squeal (and associated wear and tear) due to three tight curves
  • extremely long station throat (= low throughput)
  • extremely expensive three-track tunnel to compensate (= stupendous cost)
  • poor aesthetics of and possibly poor pedestrian flow to and from platform level
  • doubtful claim of option for future standard-gauge fixed link to East Bay
CHSRA

One reason there is now such tension between TJPA and CHSRA is that that latter agency was hamstrung by a four-year delay in getting prop 1A(2008) onto the ballot, compounded by a year spent on a starvation budget imposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger who was dissatisfied with the lack of private investors in the funding plan. Since he who pays the piper calls the tune, this massively weakened CHSRA's leverage in negotiations with TJPA while it was making decisions on the underground portions of the project.

In particular, CHSRA failed to insist on an underground pedestrian tunnel all the way to a BART/SF Muni subway/streetcar station, even though HSR ridership will depend heavily on excellent connection to these existing high-capacity rail services and prop H(1999) actually requires something along these lines. Forcing many thousands of passengers to hoof it across busy city streets every day is not an acceptable outcome for a multi-billion dollar project.

For order-of-magnitude reference, BART delivers about 60,000 transbay passenger trips on a normal weekday Labor Day weekend Monday (more on regular weekdays, h/t commenter mike), AC Transit buses just 12,000. GG Transit buses come in at around 9,000 and GG Ferries at a surprisingly high 6,000. SF Muni metro and the F streetcar line deliver 170,000 trips per day, about half the number of all of BART.

One reason CHSRA may have been reluctant to kick up a fuss years ago is this telling assertion in the Bay Area to Central Valley Final Program EIS/EIR (chapter 8, pp20 PDF):
The capital costs needed for the HST component of the Transbay Transit Center (including the 1.3-mile extension) is estimated to be similar to the estimated costs for the 4th and King option. Since the rail component would be shared with Caltrain services, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority funding plan assigns only a portion of the rail related Transbay Transit costs to the HST system.
As if an HSR station at 4th & King wouldn't be shared with Caltrain! Given that facility is at grade and has 12 platform tracks, CHSRA evidently believed at the time that the HSR project's share of the cost of the anyhow-planned DTX tunnel and train box would be quite small, but it failed to get that in writing from TJPA. Now, the forecast for the underground portion is on the order of $2.8 billion and TJPA wants the HSR project to fund the lion's share of that on top of Caltrain electrification. Section 2704.04(2) of AB3034 turned CHSRA's preference for the TTC into a hard mandate. Shoot foot, reload.

CHSRA is also locked into the idea that San Francisco is the end point of a train trip from Southern California. It insists on dwell times of 30-40 minutes in the TTC, even though AB3034 mandates feasible headways of no more than 5 minutes for the entire HSR network. With just four platform tracks at the TTC, dwell times above 20 minutes - including the time needed to traverse the throat twice - are out of compliance. Unfortunately, instead of trying to bring down dwell times, CHSRA is now looking for ways to secure more platform tracks in SF. AB3034 limits the network to 24 stations and 4th & King is too far from downtown for anyone to argue with a straight face that it could somehow be considered part of a modified TTC design. A relatively cheap tunnel + station with four straight full-length platform tracks, intermodal with Civic Center BART/SF Muni, with an option for four more under 8th (h/t to commenter Andrew), is now also out of the question for HSR.

Worse, since TJPA already has a Record of Decision on its design, any major changes at all would jeopardize its grant application against the $8 billion HSR portion of ARRA and invite the wrath of an entire city. Shoot other foot.

Ergo, CHSRA should get cracking on reducing dwell times to below 20 minutes so it can make do with four full-length platforms. One way to achieve that is to redefine the route of any given train as SoCal to SF and back again. This would preclude cleaning and light housekeeping of the seating areas in SF, but then Amtrak doesn't do that nor reprovision the cafe cars every 400 miles, either. The restrooms could be cleaned one-by-one en route in the SJ-SF-SJ segment. Cleaning staff could use Caltrain to commute if required. A little lateral thinking by CHSRA would go a very long way here.

Summary of legitimate complaints against CHSRA (in this narrow context):
  • incorrect/naive assessment of cost exposure to TTC project during HSR program-level EIS/EIR process
  • failure to analyze any alternatives to create a single Central Railway station served by HSR, Caltrain, BART, SF Muni subway and SF Muni streetcars
  • inefficient operations concept, leading to excessive dwell times and need for more platforms than TJPA could reasonably make available while still meeting its commitment to Caltrain under prop H(1999)
  • failure to focus technical complaints on genuine design flaws
  • failure to raise the alarm early enough
Compromise Proposal

For better or worse, the political reality is that CHSRA's chances of getting TJPA to abandon its train box under the bus terminal are now slim to none. In part, that's a result of Gov. Schwarzenegger's actions but there's plenty of blame to go around.

A reasonable approach might look as follows:
  1. Accept that at least some HSR trains are going to have to use the TTC train box, warts and all. In the early years of operations, make that 100% of HSR trains. Change operations concept to reduce dwell times in SF to below 20 minutes and ensure compliance with the 5 minute headway requirement in AB3034.

  2. Get the city of SF to commit to a second, separate EIS/EIR for constructing a dedicated underground pedestrian passage between Embarcadero BART/SF Muni and the HSR tracks under Main Beale Street (this was already studied in 2007 but remains unfunded). Design it complete with bright lighting, moving walkways and security staff, to actually implement the spirit of section 2(b) of prop H(1999). In addition to connecting to the concourse level, consider also connecting to the BART island platform from below to address existing pedestrian flow constraints there. Those will only get worse as the financial district expands south of Mission. Start of operations would have to be concurrent with that of the TTC train box.

  3. Consider using Talgo equipment, since that is the only manufacturer to offer both double-deck commuter and suitable high-speed trains with very short cars, individual axles for each wheel and passive steering of each wheelset. That means they can negotiate very tight corners with reduced squealing (the tractor cars still have conventional rigid axles). If other trains vendors are chosen, prioritize the development of dry lubricant strategies that are compatible with EMU traction and don't reduce line capacity by increasing emergency braking distances. Apparently, that's a non-trivial problem or Deutsche Bahn would be using such a system in Cologne today. What's available on the market may be suitable for coasting through at speed, but in a station throat braking and acceleration are required.

    Note that TJPA has no authority to de facto make train vendor decision for Caltrain and/or CHSRA, nor should it. All I'm saying is that as long as the three curves in the approach remain this tight, Caltrain and CHSRA will have no choice but to somehow mitigate the inevitable consequences. If the aural experience of the SF train station is negative, ridership will suffer.

  4. Consider harmonizing the platform height of Caltrain locals at HSR levels and assigning platform tracks on real-world demand, eliminating the need for tail tracks. Optionally, extend the southernmost platform tracks (#21+22) as far as Main Street as well.

  5. Irrespective of platform height harmonization, consider letting Caltrain run strictly regional HSR trains between SF and SJ as long as there is spare capacity on the HSR tracks in the SF peninsula.

  6. Eliminate the 4th & Townsend station from the DTX tunnel. Instead, have tracks descend at 3.5% gradient immediately after crossing Mission Creek through the curve near 7th & Townsend. Use switches to create an underground station with two short platform and two through tracks on 4th & King property. If absolutely necessary, stack additional platform tracks on top of those.

  7. Limit tunnel to two tracks between 4th & Townsend to 2nd & Folsom and use a single TBM to excavate that. Deploy crossover switches in the last section, followed by two Y plus one reverse Y switches to branch into three platform connector tracks. Just north of Tehama, use switches and diamonds to implement turnoffs toward the TTC train box. Dead-end the through tracks for now.

  8. Negotiate HSR and Caltrain ridership conditions that would require the city of SF to kick off a third phase of the TTC project, subject to a third EIS/EIR process. This would implement an "auxiliary terminal" featuring three additional full-length platform tracks at level -2 under 2nd Street between Market and just south of Howard. This would be intermodal with the existing Montgomery BART/SF Muni at Market plus city and GG transit buses at 2nd/Mission and also permit a future second BART line along Mission at level -3. Note that the available width under 2nd, including sidewalks, is 75 feet.

    A second pedestrian connector passage, similar to the first but above e.g. Minna Street between 1st and 2nd, would be included in the scope of the EIS/EIR auxiliary terminal.

  9. The auxiliary terminal concept would be considered part of the TTC but remain unfunded for the time being. Let's see Caltrain and HSR actually achieve something approaching their rosy ridership forecasts first.

View Aux Terminal under 2nd in a larger map

NOTE: I've edited the map to move the phase 2 pedestrian passage from Main to Beale Street since TJPA already studied that alignment in April 2007. It has languished for lack of $105 million in funding, something the HSR project can and IMHO should help provide if it ends up using TJPA's TTC train box as designed.



Links to previous posts related to the Transbay Terminal on this blog:

Sep 21 CHSRA Staff Recommendation on Phase 2 Stimulus Funding
Sep 18 Deputy AG Letter Supports CHSRA's Transbay Position
Sep 16 What's Up With The Transbay Terminal/
Aug 25 California Applies For $1.1 Billion In HSR Stimulus Funds
Jun 06 SJ, SF Mayors Push Transbay, Diridon, Caltrain Upgrades
Apr 29 New Transbay Terminal Renderings
Apr 14 Quentin Kopp on Transbay Terminal
Apr 05 Transbay Terminal Redux
Mar 24 BruceMcF On Transbay Terminal
Mar 14 Your Weekend Transbay Terminal Update
Mar 03 Tight Squeeze At Transbay Terminal?

On Clem Tillier's excellent Caltrain-HSR Compatibility Blog:

Sep 19 Platform Height
Jun 13 Future Transbay
Jun 06 Build Me A Train Box
Mar 25 Focus On: SF Transbay Transit Center

101 comments:

looking on said...

You would here assume that the TBT has by far and away the upper hand.

AB-3034 as noted, clearly says the TBT is to be the terminus. How can the CHSRA escape that? Who is to pay is another matter, and as noted in all the financial discussions, the Authority has nowhere near the funds to add this to their expenditures, or for that matter to complete any semblance of the Phase I plan.

As predicted a long time ago, this is a boondoggle; the draining of the State's general fund is just starting.

In addition, there are all sorts of rumors that developers are pulling away from the TBT and who can blame them with the current nation wide fiscal crisis and inability to borrow for many commercial projects.

It has been suggested that a simple legislative action could make replacement of the TBT by 4th and King legally acceptable. That certainly seems to be what Kopp has been preaching now for almost 1 year. Poor SF; they voted over 80% for this project, but probably aren't going to get quite what they envisioned.

Anonymous said...

I liked your "8 track on Main Street" option. What if this was built with the modification to curve the two shortest and Westernmost tracks to the west to enter the TBT. Bingo, you have the same design as the existing TBT but in mirror image. Still a problem at the station throat, but you keep the option to have full length platforms with direct BASRT connection under Main as ridership increases. Perhaps there is something furthersout that I am missing?

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 4:50pm -

your idea would add a lot of cost but little additional functionality, given the two pedestrian passages shown on the map.

The idea would be to eliminate the train box and instead build a central railways station next to the bus-terminal-cum-shopping-mall extravaganza.

Btw, my map shows 9 tracks. Up to 11 would be possible without tearing down any major buildings or messing with the TTC's existing bus ramps in any way.

spence said...

Was this blog post a joke?

mike said...

Rafael - A quick comment - the BART ridership number you quote is for a holiday (Labor Day). Transbay ridership on a typical weekday is much higher...it looks to be on the order of at least 130,000 or more.

YESonHSR said...

Most San Franciscans will welcome HSR at TBT or 4th and King or Beale
They JUST want it to get here.And yes we did vote 80% for HSR TheGames do need to be stopped as its alittle late!!

Evan said...

Rafael,

I'm a bit surprised to hear that you think aligning the tracks to prepare for a high-speed transbay tunnel at some later date is a bad idea. Obviously I know a lot less than you do, but it seems like this would be very likely to happen someday if HSR does reach San Francisco. Maybe it wouldn't be true HSR, but perhaps a Caltrain-like, electric commuter service that replaces/enhances the current Capitol Corridor service.

Additionally, you say you hope to see a second Transbay tube. How is the BART tunneling feasible but the HSR tunneling would not be? Is that cause one would be on Mission, and the other a bit more south?

In either case, it seems like there's at least a good chance that if HSR does make it to downtown SF, there will be a strong desire for an SF-OAK-Sac connection.

Alon Levy said...


Ergo, CHSRA should get cracking on reducing dwell times to below 20 minutes so it can make do with four full-length platforms. One way to achieve that is to redefine the route of any given train as SoCal to SF and back again. This would preclude cleaning and light housekeeping of the seating areas in SF, but then Amtrak doesn't do that nor reprovision the cafe cars every 400 miles, either. The restrooms could be cleaned one-by-one en route in the SJ-SF-SJ segment. Cleaning staff could use Caltrain to commute if required. A little lateral thinking by CHSRA would go a very long way here.


The ICE does those inspections once every 4,000 kilometers. That means going from LA to SF and back 3 times.

Rafael said...

@ mike -

I'll be happy to correct my post if you provide me with a source for your 130,000 number.

Rafael said...

@ Yes on HSR -

unfortunately, the pertinent laws here are prop H(1999) and prop 1A(2008) plus a bunch of general ones like CEQA.

CHSRA simply isn't at liberty to ignore them and neither are TJPA, FRA etc.

spence said...

Prop H (1999) doesn't legally mandate anything. It's an unfunded advisory statement by the voters of SF to do something.

Not planning for eventual conventional and/or high-speed rail across the Bay is silly. Whether or not it ever happens, it certainly is a possibility and planning route configurations that preclude that possibility would be very foolish.

Bemoaning the decision to bring rail into downtown SF via underground passage is also silly. An at-grade or above-grade solution would be much more expensive, much more unsightly, and would never actually happen due to the endless lawsuits that would come from eminent domain seizure of high-rise office buildings that would have to be demolished in order to make way for a train, and the neighborhood activists who would say "hell no."

Arguing that the TTC location is poor, yet also arguing that the TJPA is somehow failing to provide adequate connectivity to BART/Muni on Market street is just a big "huh?"

Alon Levy said...

Spence, standard-gauge rail can always be built between SF and Oakland. The real benefit of TTC here is that it would allow through-routing from the Peninsula to Oakland; other designs may force transfers. This I'm not sure is useful: Sac-RWC and Sac-SFO traffic should be low enough for transfers at SJ or SF not to kill ridership too much.

Alternatively, you can think of it in terms of technology. With the current design, a Transbay Tube for HSR won't be necessary until the 30s or 40s, by which time there will be no reason to run it steel-on-steel instead of maglev. So through-routing will be impossible anyway...

Rafael said...

@ Evan -

Amtrak Capitol Corridor gets what, 5000 riders on a weekday. That's the whole corridor, not just the Emeryville/Richmond-Sacramento city pairs. By all means, upgrade that service to improve punctuality, line haul time and fares so the train is more competitive against car travel and actually relieves congestion on I-80.

SF residents can take an Amtrak shuttle bus to Emeryville or else BART to Richmond to catch Amtrak CC. Spending $10 billion on giving a few hundred passengers a day a single-seat ride does not make financial sense.

BART, on the other hand, has many tens of thousands of transbay riders every day, commuters who depend on it to get to work on time (i.e. their livelihood).

The existing tube is immersed in the bay mud and covered with a berm to protect it against a dragged anchor. The subsoil is subject to liquefaction in an earthquake, though that fortunately did not happen in the 1989 Loma Prieta event.

A second fixed link for BART, possibly a bored tunnel, would increase not just additional capacity in the system core but also provide a level of redundancy. A sensible route might be Mission/Embarcadero to Point Alameda to Franklin Street in Oakland.

There would be connections to the existing line at both ends, but at least the one in SF wouldn't be used except in an emergency. On the Oakland side, MacArthur Park station still has some spare capacity. A connection between a Franklin Street alignment and the lines to Fremont/Pleasanton would be desirable for load balancing, but the turnout would need to also implement a change in vertical elevation.

mike said...

Rafael,

Unfortunately I can't give you an exact number, just a reasonable lower bound.

Weekday exits are given here:

http://www.bart.gov/docs/WeekdayExits.pdf

Total Embarcadero - Civic Center exits are 117,000, and to a first approximation no one rides BART between these stations. Total ridership is 357,000. That means that 66% of all rides start or end in Downtown SF.

Total 16th St/Mission-Millbrae/SFIA exits are 73,000, so total East Bay exits are 167,000.

If the 66% Downtown SF ratio held in the East Bay (very unlikely, since there is more opportunity for intra-East Bay ridership than intra-16th St/Mission-Millbrae/SFIA ridership), then Transbay trips to Downtown SF alone would reach 220,000/day. At a more reasonable 50% Downtown SF ratio, Transbay trips to Downtown SF would reach 167,000/day. 130,000 Transbay trips/day would correspond to a Downtown SF share of under 40% for East Bay, which starts to seem implausibly low given the 66% overall Downtown SF share.

Mathematically, the lowest possible Transbay ridership would be 88,000/day, and that would require every person boarding between Millbrae/SFIA and 16th St to exit in Downtown SF (i.e., Downtown SF would have 100% share west of downtown and 26% share east of downtown). Obviously that is completely unrealistic.

Rafael said...

@ spence -

Section 1 of prop H(1999) begins with the words "It shall be and is the law of the city and county [...]"

It most certainly is a legally binding proposition. Nothing advisory about it.

Who's suggesting an at-grade or above-grade solution for getting the trains beyond 4th & King? Not me, all of my suggestions involve bored tunnels. Prop H(1999) mandates as much. All I suggested is that the pedestrian passage along Minna Street could be above ground.

On that point: schlepping kids and suitcases down Main for 1000', in any kind of weather, isn't customer-friendly and hence detrimental to ridership. You don't build a new transportation infrastructure for $33 billion just to have far fewer people than expected use it because planners failed to grasped the importance of serving pedestrians transferring between stations.

Sure, many able-bodied passengers will be prepared to walk that distance on city streets and argue that they've walked further at airports. Except that there, it's typically indoors. HSR is a new transportation medium, so to build ridership passengers it has to offer a markedly superior customer experience relative to the established alternatives. It's no good sitting in a cushy seat at 220mph if you're still annoyed about getting rained on and having your ears tortured by squealing wheels before you ever boarded.

The devil is always in the details. I'm complaining about this because so far it has fallen through the cracks.

TJPA actually has a pedestrian tunnel in its EIS/EIR, but it's under Fremont so it wouldn't connect to any BART/SF Muni station. Also it is marked "optional", i.e. unfunded.

So, "Huh?" right back at ya.

Rafael said...

@ mike -

don't plenty of people use BART to travel within the East Bay?

I'm not sure the weekday exits per station stats provide enough information to draw any firm conclusions about transbay ridership. For that, BART would have to analyze ridership patterns between station pairs. They probably do, but the data isn't published on their web site.

But you're right, Sep 7th was a holiday so I've clarified that in the post.

mike said...

My apologies, the 220k-130k figures aren't quite accurate in that they are not accounting for the fact that intra-East Bay trips count for two East Bay exits per trip rather than one. The only one that is definitely correct is the 88k lower bound (that is clearly far too low).

You can derive an estimate of 120k-160k by making reasonable assumptions about the fraction of 16th-SFIA/Millbrae passengers that are going intra 16th-SFIA/Millbrae vs Downtown SF vs East Bay, but I think it's impossible to get an exact estimate

Rafael said...

@ Alon Levy -

"The ICE does those inspections once every 4,000 kilometers. That means going from LA to SF and back 3 times."

I was talking about cleaning and housekeeping of the interior, incl. provisioning of the the cafe cars.

Visual technical inspections of the safety-critical components are also needed, but I wouldn't use the ICE3 as a guideline in this context. Ever since an axle broke - fortunately at very low speed, no-one was hurt - the German Bundeseisenbahnamt (cp. FRA) has put DB's ICE3 and ICE-T trainsets on double secret probation.

The problem arose due to a combination of design by consortium, DB's insistence on aggressive (long) maintenance intervals and - some argue - the dual use of slab track ("Feste Fahrbahn") sections for both HSR and freight.

Conventional ballast track is about as stiff as the suspension systems of the trains. Slab track is much stiffer, so any deviations from the track geometry have to be handled by the train suspension systems alone. If the slab track isn't constructed perfectly or if the subsoil settles unevenly over time - something the higher axle loads of freight trains would accelerate - then the axles on the HSR trains are exposed to higher stresses. That leads to more metal fatigue.

Other HSR operators use conventional ballast track except in tunnels, don't allow heavy/medium freight onto their high speed lines, buy their gear from a single vendor and adhere scrupulously to that vendor's maintenance requirements (or hire them to just do it).

For reference the Velaro E, Hexian and RUS models look very similar to the ICE3 but are in fact further developments of that platform by Siemens themselves. They are now in service in Spain, China and Russia.

spence said...

@ Rafael. You said:

TJPA interpreted point 2(c) to mean that the downtown train station would have to be physically underneath the bus terminal to maximize foot traffic and hence, lease revenue from a co-located shopping mall that is supposed to help pay for the project. Amazingly, it also believes this configuration will result in the lowest total construction cost (cp. point 2(e)), even though every tunnel curve excavated under existing buildings is extremely expensive. Shoot other foot.

Look, I'm just trying to understand what you are talking about. It sure sounds like you think an above ground solution would be better. Please write more clearly if that is not the case.

As far as a pedestrian tunnel, you admit that it's on the drawing board, so then why are you freaking out about it? Guess what, it's not a critical feature that has to be designed or funded just yet (my opinion). If that's the worst thing about this project, then we're doing great. Your suggestion that all of this stuff needs to be built (at great expense) doesn't comport with the huge financial difficulties this project has. Who is going to build the tunnel and connection directly to BART/Muni platforms? Who is going to pay for the round the clock security guards to keep it from smelling like pee down there? It would be a great feature to have, but it's not critical that it be defined just yet at this stage in the project. An underground tunnel may end up being superfluous in the end, despite it sounding like a great idea. Not every bell and whistle is going to make it into the project, and some things can be added later. There's plenty of money going to BART and SF Muni for "connecting" services form the Prop 1a bonds that could help fund this tunnel. Give it time.

Also, what do you not understand about the TBT development? The purpose of residential and commercial properties in that space is:

1) To generate revenue for this project so that it can be built in the first place. These buildings and transit facilities cost money and this is a mechanism to generate that money without floating another bond measure.

2) It's secondary purpose is to make the TTC a more vibrant space that is both a destination in it's own right (heard of TOD before?) and to make it a populated area outside of weekday commute hours or peak travel times, so that it is not a ghost town or a scary place to be after dark. The emphasis is to encourage more folks to travel by public transportation as opposed to cars.

Having a mall and/or housing is not some crazy conspiracy Rafael. It's a legitimate land use that happens all over SF. We have shopping and housing everywhere. Partnering with private interests is a methodology that the CHSRA is embracing as well. There's nothing wrong with it as long as the public interest is looked out for.

As far as Prop H goes, it's a referendum. It was not a charter amendment. All it does is establish what city policy is. It's up to city/county officials to enact said policy, but it's not like they don't have plenty of leeway. No offense, but I think you really don't understand this distinction.

Rafael said...

@ spence -

I'm not sure what gave you the idea that I was advocating anything but a tunnel, but for belts and suspenders I've added it to the post.

The HSR service is expected to >100% fare box return after 2-3 years of building ridership up from zero. That means it will be able to fund its own operations and maintenance without additional subsidies from taxpayers. Many thousands of people will be employed by (the) HSR operator(s), so a few security guards in a pedestrian passage in downtown SF aren't exactly going to be a dealbraker.

As for the shopping mall, I understand why it's there. It's just that it's completely nuts to force a heavy rail line into unnatural contortions to reach a suboptimal location just so there's enough foot traffic to jack up the rent on shop to levels high enough to pay for Gavin Newsom's architectural wet dream.

Buses routes are much more flexible than rail alignments, so any sane design begins with the rail station - especially if that's underground. Now, you've got a terrible tunnel design just so you can preserve a pair of bus ramps dating back to the 1930s. Extra, extra: tail wagging dog!

Clem said...

This.

James said...

@Spence

The point of hashing out the details now is to avoid casting poor choices in concrete when better choices are available. The cost of a poor choice tends to grow with time, sometimes by orders of magnitude.

If you are familiar with engineering design then you know that the entire scope of the project should be considered as early in the design process as practicable.

You question the post in a way that implies the solution to the SF terminal is obvious. Is it?

James said...

The TTC-Bus-Bridge looks more than strong enough for the old street cars it used to carry. Bus traffic loads would be light for the beams under the deck. Is the new terminal directly under this bridge or adjacent?

James said...

Original TTC bridge interrupted by rework of Bay Bridge approach?

TTC-approach-vs-bay-bridge-repair-construction

It will be interesting to see how this all works out in 10 years.

James said...

The Ugly-duckling

Eric M said...

Rafael,

I would like to say that I do like your idea on the map you made of the 12 track station. Simple but effective, Connects with BART, even faster with moving sidewalks as in airports. Hopefully someone is looking on.

I first thought having the HSR reach the TTC was a great idea, but it really has put a bad taste in my mouth. TJPA is trying to get money, which isnt there's and using it for a horrible design for a train station and approach. The hell with them!! Let them have their billion dollar bus station. Put HSR a block or two away.

And for those who complain about walking, get out and exercise!!

jim said...

The city has every intention of including an underground pedestrian passage. That's not really an issue.

jim said...

and bart already wants a 4 bore transbay tube starting around 2050, for bart trains/and standard gauge standard and high speed trains. SO let bart work on that. They are very good at getting money and expansion when they put their mind to it.

jim said...

@rafael the pedestiran tunnel (un funded) was one of the topics at a recent planning commission meeting haveing to do with what types of things can be funded via fees on the developments in the area. This is how they plan to pay for it. and they talked of usingeckerplace to montgomery

Anonymous said...

One can only hope that your post is read by washington deciders. You are finally admitting what the 'deniers' and 'nimby's' have screaming into deaf ears all along, which is that this thing is a friggin joke, the CHSRA in charge are out of control morons. I can't believe they're asking for this federal stimulus money with a straight face, not having a friggin clue how they'd build the thing, how they'd meet their State bond committments (ab3034) knowing FULL WELL they cant and dont, and yet using their own funding to build a bunch of stuff which has basically no usefulness to HSR. In fact probably sets HSR FARTHER BACK than they are today with NOTHING, because its after these things are build badly that they REALLY prove that they're happily willing to squander tax payer billions.

They'll be LUCKY if some of these morons don't end up in JAIL after willfully going after these stimulus moneys knowing the foolishness of these plans. I can't WAIT until one of these high rises collapses during some cockamaime tunneling scheme through bay mud under SF city.

And, You aren't helping matters - apparently persist in the idea that everything under OR over ground, from SF to LA from Pacific Ocean to Nevada is up for grabs by the CHSRA - no strings attached...)

By the way, can someone explain how they claim publicy (teach in) just a week or two ago they still know nothing about the specifics of how it will end up, yet they're ready to ask for money for the grade separations crossings. I'd ask Whos' lying here? The only real question is WHICH PARTY is being lied to.

Alon Levy said...

You are finally admitting what the 'deniers' and 'nimby's' have screaming into deaf ears all along, which is that this thing is a friggin joke, the CHSRA in charge are out of control morons.

No, we're saying that the TTC is designed suboptimally. We're not saying anything the Derail HSR people said (they said the costs would be much higher than projected and ridership much lower, based on a study authored by a highway lobbyist). Nor are we saying what the PA/MP/Atherton NIMBYs are saying about noise or poor people being able to go to the Peninsula.

jim said...

Montgomery Station (as well as Powell) has dead end sealed corridors that were put there for just such future pedestrian connections to adjacent locations. Some have been put to use over the years and some just dead end, waiting for their day to arrive.

by the way I saw 10 cops disappear into the wall behind a secret panel the other day at Embarcadero Station.... which was just as strange as the two fully decked out firemen...complete with axes, that were standing in the dark between the topiaries in front of One Market Restaurant with no fire truck or fire. Maybe its some weird underground public service union thing that takes place in secret passages beneath the streets after midnight)

Anyway Rafael's compromise sounds like the most reasonable thing so far.

Its not that this is a boondoggle or that people don't have their shit together, its a simple matter of fact that no matter what, some one is gonna be unhappy, and there is never enough coordination on a good day in such things let along, trying to merge what started as two separate large projects into one.

All the hand wringing over things not be exaclty perfect per the way the do it in europe" or per all the armchair engineers and architects, is for naught.

It doesn't have to be perfect. it just has to be shiny and fast and californians will use it as is. We're used to it. just get the damn thing up and running or people will lose interest and that will be your real problem. You gotta give em something quick before they move on to something else.

Anonymous said...

Its rather an aside, wasn't my main point originally, but it IS a funny point, cuz what I'm reading is a whole bunch about noise - trains squealing through too tight curves they'll be forced to live with - but which they THEMSELVES are all too anxious to get federal HSR FUNDING for. (That's important point, because THEY are buying these things, not some other entity but CHSRA themselves are signing up for these!) In fact, the CHSRA is in the process (theoretically) of project level EIRS. Gee, wonder what the mitigations are going to have to look like (and cost) for got awful squealing through too tight curves. Its all very very funny.

"they said the costs would be much higher than projected" and what, you're denying this to be true now? Considering Rafael is at the drawing board on station designs that traverse SF city underground like its the wild west or somehting. And how much of these creative plans (IN ADDITION TO TBT). Are you willign to sit there with a straight face and not say costs are spiraling out of control before your very eyes, before even the eir's are on paper?

AndyDuncan said...

If AB-3034 mandates that HSR be put in at the TTC, it says the same thing about LAUS.

The Alternatives Analysis for LA-Anaheim shows two different station configurations on the site of LAUS, as well as a new HSR station located a quarter mile away along the bank of the LA river.

AB-3034 doesn't mandate a particular station configuration or meter-scale placement of tracks. What qualifies as satisfying AB-3034, I don't know, I would guess that 4th and King would not count. However I think it's going to be rather difficult to claim that a "platform B" between main and beale, connected to the main TTC building, somehow violates AB-3034.

Adirondacker12800 said...

This would preclude cleaning and light housekeeping of the seating areas in SF, but then Amtrak doesn't do that nor reprovision the cafe cars every 400 miles, either. The restrooms could be cleaned one-by-one en route in the SJ-SF-SJ segment.

Sounds good. Remember these are passengers trains which implies passengers. Passengers will be going to the dining car where they eat and drink and then need to use the restroom. Which is why it needs to be cleaned.

Does the cleaner keep the cart in the aisle blocking passengers going to and from the dining car or to the restroom in the next car because the one being cleaned isn't available?

I suppose the cleaner could stash the cart in the vestibule. And then be in the way as people get on and off at Palo Alto/Redwood City or SFO.

Or they could light the "Fasten Seat Belts" sign between San Francisco and San Jose forcing everybody to stay in their seats. What! train passengers expect to move freely about the train whenever they feel like it! Silly passengers...

People don't dirty things based on miles traveled, they dirty things based on use which is loosely based on time.

Amtrak makes it between Washington DC and New York City in times comparable to a proposed HSR trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Passengers will probably use the restrooms as frequently as they would on a trip between DC and NYC. Amtrak's median dwell time in Penn Station is 15 minutes. Amtrak. In Penn Station.
They don't have cleaners shuttling back and forth between Penn Station and Metropark or Penn Station and New Rochelle.

Adirondacker12800 said...

However I think it's going to be rather difficult to claim that a "platform B" between main and beale..

I suggested something like that in the past. More or less was told that it couldn't be done because of Proposition H. It's been my experience that the State and Federal government take local concerns seriously and then do what they damn well please. The FHA frequently tells state DOTs to go back to the drawing board because their designs are inadequate. The FTA turns things down all the time. I assume the FRA does now and then too. Great angst in these blogs over whether or not the FRA will approve running a freight train or two now and then on the same ROW as lightweight trains. I wouldn't be shocked if the FRA said "you train station sucks, redesign it" The people at the FRA look at the same formulas that people here use to calculate curves etc.

How much would it cost to buy everything between Main and Beale from Mission to Embarcadero? I seem to remember one of the reasons for the tail tracks that the engineering to get to the East Bay would be much easier that way. They could build a large station there, then sell the air rights. Design it so the tunnel to the East Bay could connect to it.

Other people have looked at this and came to the same-ish conclusion. But San Franciscans want a bus station where the old one was with a train station wedged under it. It won't be adequate when someone realizes that the higher speeds on the trains to Sacramento and Stockton have induced demand for service to San Francisco. And having them transfer to BART in Oakland won't work well without building more BART, BART is at capacity now.

When they look around in 15 years and see all those tall skyscrapers clustered around the shiny new inadequate HSR station with a bus station halo, they will realize how well screwed they are. It will be too late.

jim said...

most of the parcels in that area are already accounted for and the space available for tbt is what it is . we have to make do with it.

Rafael said...

@ adirondacker12800 -

I'll leave it to people with day-to-day operations experience to figure out exactly how cleaning restrooms along the way would work. Perhaps there won't be a cart at all.

If one restroom is occupied for cleaning, use the next one. When a plane comes in for landing, you don't get to use the restroom any more, either.

As for the comparison with East Coast cities, it's wide of the mark. California all but abandoned passenger rail in the 1950s, it wasn't revived until SP was on its last legs in the late 80s/early 90s and was prepared to sell some of the family silver (rights of way). Unfortunately, UPRR got most of them, so the renaissance was limited to Caltrain, Metrolink and NCTD plus a few Amtrak routes. That wasn't enough to justify investments like a downtown Central Station in SF back when it would have been at least a little easier to build one.

Adirondacker12800 said...

most of the parcels in that area are already accounted for and the space available for tbt is what it is . we have to make do with it.

Google satelite images are notorious for being hopelessly out of date. San Francisco's online property tax information leaves lots to be desired. When I look at those four blocks I see two blocks of parking lot, a medium high office building and two low rise buildings, either dot.com offices or dot.com condos and what looks like a moderately large urban motel masquerading as a hotel. If parking lots are what San Francisco wants.... 30 years from now they can build a large spacious train station in Oakland. which in 50 years will be surrounded by downtown like development. 100 years from now urban planners will be talking about how San Francisco let it all get away and how Oakland snatched the brass ring...

Adirondacker12800 said...

I'll leave it to people with day-to-day operations experience to figure out exactly how cleaning restrooms along the way would work. Perhaps there won't be a cart at all.

Or perhaps people with experience will back away slowly and speak in round tones until they are far enough away that they can start to run. I have experience cleaning public bathrooms. A quick swipe of a Amfleet restroom and restocking would take 5 minutes with the cart in door to the restroom. Longer if I had to go back and forth to the cart in the vestibule. A good scrub wouldn't take much longer but then it would be out of service until it dried, at least 20 and maybe 30.

Who else cleans toilets that are in motion? If it's such a great idea I'm sure someone else has come up with it and is using it. I'm sure Jim can tell us what happens when one becomes so dirty it can't be used.

There's going to be a cart. Cleaning needs cleaning supplies. It also implies doing things like restocking all the paper goods and the soap. Something Amtrak manages to do in Penn Station or lets slide until the train gets to DC or Boston. DC to Boston is longer than it will take to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back to Los Angeles.

If one restroom is occupied for cleaning, use the next one. When a plane comes in for landing, you don't get to use the restroom any more, either.

And decades ago you didn't use the restroom while the train was in the station. People have expectations. If the cleaner is doing a quick swipe the restroom is going to be out of service for ten minutes because even a quick swipe needs time to dry. Or two at time after the first one is finished. Figure on ten minutes per because getting to and from each one takes time, more if they are occupied and the cleaner has to wait for the passenger to finish. So two maybe three per cleaner between San Jose and San Francisco.

As for the comparison with East Coast cities, it's wide of the mark.

Share with us what the difference is between being on a train between Washington DC and New York City for three hours and being on a train between Los Angeles and San Francisco for three hours. It's not going to be all that different than being on a TGV for three hours or being on the LIRR's Cannonball express for three hours either. I hear the bar car on the Cannonball is lots of fun. Since it's a party train I suspect the restrooms get used a bit more than on the 6:00 AM Acela.

California all but abandoned passenger rail in the 1950s,...

What does any of that have to do with how often passengers miss the bowl?

Rafael said...

@ jim -

TJPA doc on pedestrian passage dated April 2007.

The study is there, but afaik the commitment to actually implement it has been lacking to date because the city of SF doesn't want to fund it by itself. For HSR, the Beale Street option already studied would work just as well as the Main Street option shown in my map.

The Ecker Place route would be longer at 1400', but there might be certain capacity advantages to connecting to BART at Montgomery rather than Embarcadero.

The money for any pedestrian passage should come from the $9.95b in prop 1A(2008) and/or federal funding reserved for HSR, whether or not it goes through CHSRA's hands. This includes some of the HSR feeder funding for BART and SF Muni, perhaps a little of the piddling amount reserved for Caltrain as well.

For reference: back in 2007, TJPA estimated the cost for the Beale Street option at $105 million using cut-and-cover for a strip 30' wide (roughly 2 traffic lanes). A hefty price tag, to be sure, but worth every penny in terms of increased transit and HSR ridership.

The Ecker Place option, even with some investment from a private developer, penciled out at $130 million.

Rafael said...

@ Adirdondacker12800 -

the issue is that in order to give cleaners 30-40 minutes time, CHSRA is now looking for ways to increase its downtown SF platform count from 4 to 6 or even 8, at stupendous expense and disruption to the TJPA-led TTC project's timeline and funding opportunities. Decades ago, it might have been quite easy to accommodate that but SF never got around to building anything resembling a multimodal transit hub before now. BART/SF Muni subway, the Transbay Terminal and 4th & King were island solution with zero or very limited transit links.

Now, BruceMcF actually suggested adding a second platform level to the TTC design, essentially to accommodate getting the toilets cleaned. In addition to cost etc, that would introduce major vertical pedestrian flow and emergency evacuation issues.

If cleaning en route isn't viable, then perhaps the HSR operators can hire cleaning brigades large enough to get the job done in a few minutes so the dwell time target of 20 minutes or less can still be met.

Note that early on at least, there won't be any need to actually achieve five minute headways. CHSRA just has to stage a demonstration that it is in compliance with AB3034.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 12:08am -

if TJPA and CHSRA had bothered to stick their heads together and come up with a solution that actually works well for HSR, I wouldn't have bothered to come up with the maps and write up this post.

Btw, if you're referring specifically to the Main Street option, that would involve a scaled-back TTC building without a train box. AFAIC, they're welcome to scale back the above-ground extravaganza as well if that's the only way to fund a solution that delivers the required transportation value. It's a matter of priorities.

Whatever gets built will be as good as it gets for decades to come. Lots of large train stations around the world have been in service for over a century. Fixing major mistakes down the road tends to be either extremely expensive and disruptive or point blank impossible.

Rafael said...

@ James -

"Is the new terminal directly under this bridge or adjacent?"

That's not a bridge, that's one of the bus ramps. The footprint of the new TTC building will be similar to that of the existing one. Buses arriving via I-80 will use the bus ramps to reach stops at the elevated level, effectively running through the building.

Buses arriving via city streets will have stops at grade between the building and Mission, just as is the case today. The design calls for the train platforms to be at level -2 and a concourse at level -1. The green roof will be a small public park.

BruceMcF said...

spence said...
"Not planning for eventual conventional and/or high-speed rail across the Bay is silly. Whether or not it ever happens, it certainly is a possibility and planning route configurations that preclude that possibility would be very foolish. "

Does that still leave open bemoaning a trainbox design that provides subpar support for an eventual standard gauge transbay tunnel?

"Bemoaning the decision to bring rail into downtown SF via underground passage is also silly. An at-grade or above-grade solution would be much more expensive, much more unsightly, and would never actually happen due to the endless lawsuits that would come from eminent domain seizure of high-rise office buildings that would have to be demolished in order to make way for a train, and the neighborhood activists who would say "hell no.""

Does that still leave open bemoaning a crappy and poor benefit/dollar three track tunnel design with no more capacity than a two track tunnel?

"Arguing that the TTC location is poor, yet also arguing that the TJPA is somehow failing to provide adequate connectivity to BART/Muni on Market street is just a big "huh?""

A commentator here said that the BART station best suited to connection via an underground people mover is Montgomery Street BART, not Embarcadero, making the TBT Terminal basement preferable to Beale Street station access via a Market Street tunnel.

So:

(1) Expanding the 4th and Townsend station to two through Express tracks and reducing the DTX to two tracks would still fit?

(2) Correcting the design of the TBT train box from 6x1 to 4x2 would still fit?

(3) The fact that 1 and 2 combined would allow easing of the curves and reduced squealing would be fine by you?

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"By the way, can someone explain how they claim publicy (teach in) just a week or two ago they still know nothing about the specifics of how it will end up, yet they're ready to ask for money for the grade separations crossings. I'd ask Whos' lying here? The only real question is WHICH PARTY is being lied to."

Because as anyone who had read the publicly available information would know, the phase 2 of HSR money provides for funding projects where the final design has not been completed.

It would have been absurd and foolish of the funding to require a completed final design for every application, because unlike highways, there are is not a steady stream of money dedicated to working out designed for as-yet-unfunded rail projects.

Owen E said...

Using Talgo equipment makes sense.

Their train cars have a lower floor height, so it may be less difficult to procure a double-decker commuter trainset with the same floor height as well.

Rafael said...

@ BruceMcF -

adding a second level would ease the curve radius issue but it wouldn't fully solve it.

For that, it would be better to either approach the TTC from further west (via 3rd Street or 7th/Minna) or else, to switch to station under a city street near the TTC with a straight throat. 2nd Street is narrow, three platform tracks is the maximum there. Main could support more platform tracks because there are several parking lots just west of it.

@ Owen E -

Talgo 350 single-level HSR: 760mm floor height (through aisle)

Talgo 22 bi-level commuter trains: 550mm floor height (through aisle on both levels)

Since Caltrain has been "assigned" platform tracks 21+22 right now, the ones with the tightest final curve, it actually needs a solution to curb squealing even more than CHSRA does. The simplest one would be to increase the radius by branching off approach off further south and moving the eastern end of these platform tracks to Main Street without making the straight section any longer.

Unfortunately, that would mean excavating a single-tracks tunnel under a lot of buildings so it would cost quite a bit extra. Buying Talgo 22 gear instead would be cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Wow, again, the obvious, cleanest, most cost saving idea of all would be to terminate HSR in San Jose, and use an electrified Caltrain as the SF to SJ connection. Caltrain as HSR - HSR itself won't run incrementally much faster than Caltrain (125 through peninsula is a pipe dream given the curve issues, the noise and proximity to populatiosn - the mitigations have HSR running not much more than 80-100mph anyway) The COSTS then of fabulously overhauling and redoing all these TBT plans can be eliminated and focused on TRUE HSR through parts that can actually acommodate high speeds. The Peninsula NIMBY's GO AWAY.

The reality is that a high speed rail station in SF doesn't make that much sense anyway - because the ridership draw area really isn't SF propper, its all greater bay area towns around SF - and what sense doesn it make to try to draw MILLIONS of people in to the city center to get to this station. Its dumb - serve up a fast ride to SJ to the SF residents and tourists who are there, and allow the non SF located ridership catch a Caltrain at any other point along the line -without trying to attempt to cram this all in to the middle of the city. AB3034 can be served by 'redefining' what it means to connect HSR to TBT - just as you all are proposing to do with stations at 4th/King, Beale, etc. Its all a game of words at that point anyway.

It makes so much more sense from a cost perspective from a practical logistics perspective, from a realistic ridership perspective (REALLY - WHO in the their right MIND is going to want to start a long distance trip by driving themselves into the heart of SF for no oher reason than to catch the train? - Anyone south of SF WONT DO THAT. They'll just get on Caltrain to SJ or drive to SJ or PA/RC anyway (wherever they'll get accessible affordable long term parking). This allows the projects already approved to win the federal stimulus funding and does so much other good to the HSR project overall.

jim said...

@rafael, per the ecker place or any other pedestrian walkway, and where the funding will come from. If chrsa want it to come out of their budget I doubt the city would stand in their way, however, I am just reporting what I'm hearing here on the front line, as a resident ( and a lot of odd hour free time) I sometimes watch hours of sfgtv, our award winning government channel. Everything that goes on in every commission, board, etcetc, is broadcast and its amazing what I find out about what's really going on in town by watching what they are up too over there at city hall, which, to paraphrase a well know figure, I can see from my house....

So as far as what the ( I think it was actually the planning commission and tjpa) said, they plan to fund the walkway and a lot of other stuff with developer fees, which is how we fund just about everything around here. But if the feds want to pay instead, even better!

As for cleaning the trains. All I can say as that it can be done any way you wanna do it.

Here at amtrak, generally there are "coach cleaners" at the end of the lines, here in Cali that's LAX , SAC, OKJ, BFD and whether the train gets cleaned depends on the turn. 712/717 okj-bfd and back in one day has an hour or so at bfd and it gets cleaned by a local crew.

but another train that goes okj-bfd-sac thenovernights in sac - gets cleaned there, but not during the short layover in bfd.

Its very flexible, no hard rules.

By the same token, on some routes they are finding that it creates a better on board experience ( and now that we got some real funding) to have en route on board cleaners to fluff and spritz. as well as adding OBS food service folks to run a beverage cart for at seat service.
Its all based on whether there is money to create the new job and state has shown interest in catering to passengers as much as possible.

Who ever gets the operating contrack will make the decisions on cleaning, when , where, how, based on their staffing costs. If they want to cut dwell times and use an on board cleaner, then thats what they do.

In my opinion, SF in not a good place for a crew base, not for T&E, cleaning, or OBS because of the high costs of doing any business here, the lack of space available for support services, the exorbitant rent that will no doubt be charged for space of any kind at tbt, an the difficulty in getting employees to base here. ( due to the cost of living-- these are all existing problems we have now to some extent, if I mark off its like pulling teeth to get anyone to fill the job over here due to costs to the employee)

So anyway, I forgot my point.

oh yeah, turn the trains and keep em moving. the valley ( merced) and LA are the best places for full service.

You could get into the issue of whether you want to make the cafe attendant also clean the bathrooms. But only if you plan to run some scab train staffed my nose picking minimum wage workers who can't communicate.

AndyDuncan said...

(2) Correcting the design of the TBT train box from 6x1 to 4x2 would still fit?

and

adding a second level would ease the curve radius issue but it wouldn't fully solve it.

Actually adding a second level would make the curve radius worse on the outside tracks unless they offset the second level from the TTC building by placing the north side of the 4x2 train box along the same wall as the 6x1 train box.

If they put a 4x2 station centered underneath the TTC, you're basically getting rid of the tightest track curve and the largest track curve, while doing nothing for the middle four.

Also, putting a 4x2 station in now means the DTX has gone from ridiculously expensive to insanely expensive, as you need to work in flying crossovers into your three track tunnel cum station throat.

@Jim: most of the parcels in that area are already accounted for and the space available for tbt is what it is . we have to make do with it.

The value of the condo building (which appears to be a mix of corporate apartments, and permanent residences), was stated somewhere else as $160m. Depending on how the tunnel gets routed, you might even be able to take just one of the two towers.

The undeveloped parking lots on beale and main may be "spoken for", but that doesn't mean the developers are unwilling to negotiate. Especially in the current economic climate, and especially when, as you pointed out in a previous thread, the developers of at least one of those properties has been sitting on the land for years – long enough that they had to renew their permits.

Surely those same developers would be interested in the air rights over a large transit center. Perhaps even more interested than they were without it. You don't need to finance the entire cost of those parcels, you just need to find the difference between the cost of the parcel and the value of the air rights above your new station.

jim said...

holy $%^& this is sick! tunnel we gotta have this one!

jim said...

@andy,

forget about removing anything existing. we'll all be living on mars before that will happen, but, the idea of buying any empty parcels from developers who projects are in the pipeline, or stalled to the economy, is a possibility. But be prepared to wait until the 22nd century to get the thing built, because... and I can't seem to get this through to people who don't live here... that's how log it will take to re zone, and approve such land use changes. This is not LA. In SF, the residents and neighbors have full access and power at city hall, and developers have to beg on bended knee and come bearing gifts of gold and incense and yes even myrrh. It probably is not a can of worms that chsra wants to open. They have enough on their hands. The best thing they can do is come to the city in a spirit of cooperation and respect and say,

"how do you think we might make this situation better, we'd like to hear your ideas"

and even then they will have to answer to Aunt Mabel and the tenants assoc of 123 random street.


you all don't believe me when I tell how things get done here but I'm not kidding. Homeless people and the insane, have easier freer access to to be heard than developers do.

BruceMcF said...

AndyDuncan said...
"Actually adding a second level would make the curve radius worse on the outside tracks unless they offset the second level from the TTC building by placing the north side of the 4x2 train box along the same wall as the 6x1 train box."

"If they put a 4x2 station centered underneath the TTC, you're basically getting rid of the tightest track curve and the largest track curve, while doing nothing for the middle four."

You are forgetting that the footprint of the former outside track and former inside track are both available. In the TJPA design, the central two platform tracks connect to the central tunnel track, which switches after the curve.

"Also, putting a 4x2 station in now means the DTX has gone from ridiculously expensive to insanely expensive, as you need to work in flying crossovers into your three track tunnel cum station throat."

But removing the blocking cross-over in the TJPA design of the station throat and putting two Express tracks through 4th and Townsend means you no longer need a three track tunnel. Removing the cost of the third track from 4th and Townsend to 2nd and Folsom easily pays for the cost of the two vertical 2x1 fan-outs.

Plus a 4x2 train box will be not more expensive to build than a 6x1 train box, since the two outside rows of vertical support columns will not have to be brought through the train box - their foundations will be at the foundation of the mezzanine.

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"Wow, again, the obvious, cleanest, most cost saving idea of all would be to terminate HSR in San Jose, and use an electrified Caltrain as the SF to SJ connection."

Yes, exactly, have the same costs, the same problems, the same constraints, solve nothing, add 15 minutes to the San Francisco to Los Angeles trip time ...

... excuse me, are you posting anonymously because you are a member of the State Legislature? That answer of accomplishing nothing useful, making some problem worse, but changing the labels on the boxes of problems to be solved bears a suspicious similarity to the insanity of the California State Legislature.

BruceMcF said...

Rafael said...
"@ BruceMcF -

adding a second level would ease the curve radius issue but it wouldn't fully solve it.
"

No, but it would fully solve the operating bottlenecks of a three track tunnel with less capacity than a two track tunnel would have without those bottlenecks.

TJPA designed the system for most services stopping at 4th and Townsend and an occasional service skipping, and then switched is to allocate a majority of capacity to services that will bypass 4th and Townsend without bottlenecks that are created as a result.

A vertical 2x4 then the two horizontal 2x4 fanouts doesn't suffer from the crossover bottleneck.

Morris Brown said...

Rafael wrote:
"One reason there is now such tension between TJPA and CHSRA is that that latter agency was hamstrung by a four-year delay in getting prop 1A(2008) onto the ballot, compounded by a year spent on a starvation budget imposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger who was dissatisfied with the lack of private investors in the funding plan."

Well the Governor should really be unhappy now, since as Director Crane mentioned yesterday, don't be counting on any private funding now.

The fact of the matter is, funding is the number one problem facing the project.

The original plan was 1/3 each from Federal, State and Private. Private has gone away, and 1/3 of 40 billion is 13.3 billion. The State bond of 9 billion makes its share 4.3 billion short. Even if they get 4 billion from the Feds now, that's short 9.3 billion, and
no money from private sources.

The proposed application for stimulus funds, is obviously meant to satisfy everyone up and down the line.

The central valley was going to be shut out --- no longer. San Diego, which was to be funded with profits from the complete system, get some stimulus funds.

The Bay Area get funds, most of which would seem to benefit CalTrain.

I sent a letter to the Authority, which was mentioned by Judge Kopp near the end.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/20178519/Stimulus

The point here is, the financial oversight that was written int AB-3034, is being essentially ignored with the funds request.

When they run out of funds, instead of having something useful, they are going to have bits and pieces of useless partial construction. Not a pretty picture.

Morris Brown said...

From BruceMcF we read:

"Anonymous said...


"Wow, again, the obvious, cleanest, most cost saving idea of all would be to terminate HSR in San Jose, and use an electrified Caltrain as the SF to SJ connection."


Yes, exactly, have the same costs, the same problems, the same constraints, solve nothing, add 15 minutes to the San Francisco to Los Angeles trip time"

Exactly the same costs !!! Really!

Electrification which is all at the most needed for the postion of stopping at San Jose, is less then 1.5 billion, including train sets for CalTrain.

I would say that is saving about 5 - 10 billion right away.

dave said...

Check the curve radi at this station. I don't think the TBT coud be worse than this?

Sun Rises, Sun Falls said...

Electrifying Caltrain and getting new EMUs would be a tiny fraction of what CHSRA wants to do on the Peninsula.

And Bruce McF claims to be some sort of an economist. Ha!

Anonymous said...

Taiwan’s Failing High Speed Rail Line Faces Government Takeover
by Wendell Cox 09/23/2009

According to Railway Technology, Taiwan’s struggling high speed rail line, the only fully private and commercial high speed rail system in the world, will be taken over by the government his week. The line has been plagued by disappointing ridership levels totaling approximately one-third projected levels. The company has generated insufficient revenues to meet its debt obligations and had previously renegotiated its bank credit to substantially lower interest rates. The company lost $770 million in 2008 and has a debt of approximately $10 billion. The cost of the system was approximately $15 billion.

jim said...

oh no. quick, we better stop everything.

Alon Levy said...

Anon, I stopped reading after the byline. Wendell Cox is a paid highway lobbyist. Anything he says should be assumed a lie until proven true.

A more sober perspective about THSR is that it has funded at the height of the subprime mortgage bubble, so the creditors demanded the same returns as for subprime mortgages. This contrasts with public investments in infrastructure, or with private investments outside a bubble, which have access to low-interest loans.

Rafael said...

@ Morris Brown + Sun Rises, Sun Falls -

Taiwan HSR is struggling precisely because the Taipei station isn't downtown, so passengers have to transfer to a slower commuter line.

If HSR doesn't go all the way to SF, there's little point in building it at all.

California voters reached the same conclusion last November when they endorsed the statewide route, which included the PCJPB corridor as the one preferred for the SF-SJ segment.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan HSR is struggling precisely because...

Because they are saddled with enormous interest and depreciation charges for their infrastructure, i.e. viaducts, tunnels, rails, etc. Here in California, at least 2/3 of the tab for those items is being picked up by taxpayers.

Sun Rises, Sun Falls said...

Taiwan HSR is struggling precisely because the Taipei station isn't downtown, so passengers have to transfer to a slower commuter line.

The Taiwanese system has serious financial problems as it is, just imagine the added cost of extending it downtown. Going through urban cores with complete grade separation is always going to be expensive. "Not going downtown" is not the cause of the serious financial problems of the Taiwanese system.

If HSR doesn't go all the way to SF, there's little point in building it at all.

This is just rhetorical bluster and nonsense. Why spend enormous sums to speed up an existing 50-mile railroad by 15 minutes, especially when that railroad can be improved on its own for far less.

The best way to build HSR is to place a line along the I-5 corridor from Sacramento to LA. That's it. This is how an independent private enterprise would build it: straight-forward, politically uncomplicated, and fast (both in speed and construction time). Can't handle the Grapevine? You can't handle HSR! Other rail agencies will lobby for grants to connect with this high-speed mainline.

California voters reached the same conclusion last November when they endorsed the statewide route, which included the PCJPB corridor as the one preferred for the SF-SJ segment.

Yeah, the wishes of the California voter were carefully dissected in that bond vote. Weren't they expecting a SF Transbay Terminal too -- oh, never mind... The statewide route seems to be up for negotiation. The California voters can just as easily reverse their decision. See Florida.

Peter said...

Who is it that actually did the station portion of the TBT? Was it actually done by railroad engineers or was it done by non-expert engineers? Were the railroad engineers given any real opportunity to say that the TBT station is crock, for both HSR and Caltrain? Who is responsible for this mess?

Peter said...

Sorry, "designed" not "did"

Adirondacker12800 said...

especially when that railroad can be improved on its own for far less.

I'll bite, what would cost far less?

After the Caltrain is upgraded to carry HSR passengers from San Jose to San Francisco about the only savings would be the signs designating the station as an HSR station. Everything else would be the same. Probably not even that because once Caltrain is electrified HSR trains can go all the way to Caltrain's terminus. So they would have to buy the signs anyway.

BruceMcF said...

Sun Rises, Sun Falls said...
"Electrifying Caltrain and getting new EMUs would be a tiny fraction of what CHSRA wants to do on the Peninsula."

Not a "tiny" fraction, but it would of course be only a part of the cost of what Caltrain wants to do on the Peninsula, which includes full grade separation and Express/Local lines through most of the corridor.

Full grade separation, mostly 4 track sections with a few 3 track sections, electrification and EMU's will cost most of what full grade separation, 4 track throughout, electrification and EMU's will cost ... and will also cost the loss in HSR ridership from adding a transfer and 10min to 15min additional travel time SF to LA-US.

"And Bruce McF claims to be some sort of an economist. Ha!"

Yup, that's why I suspect that when people use "emotional adjectives" in lieu of numbers that they either have not thought through the numbers or else are trying to bullshit people.

In this case "tiny fraction" equals over 100% when the full economic costs are counted in.

Rafael said...

@ Sun Rises, Sun Falls -

Taiwan HSR is in trouble because it's ridership is only 1/3 of what had been forecast, and that is a direct result of failing to serve downtown Taipei.

The private operator was allowed to refinance using a government-backed soft loan and the government does own 37% of the infrastructure. None of that makes a blind bit of difference if the ridership isn't there.

Terminating California HSR at San Jose would be a ridership killer. For the statewide investment to make any sense at all, HSR needs to run dozens of trains between Northern and Southern California. While some passengers will want to use San Jose Diridon anyhow, that's not true of residents of SF plus most of the East and North Bay.

The existing Caltrain tracks don't have the necessary capacity to handle all the extra baby bullets you imply would provide the onward connection to SF. Even if it were to remain below 110mph top speed, the quad tracking and additional rail traffic would soon force the full grade separation of the entire right of way.

In other words, within a decade the cost and disruption would be the same for SF peninsula towns but ridership on HSR would be sharply lower due to the need for a transfer. It doesn't make sense to save $5 billion on the starter line if it means the other $28 billion end up being insufficiently productive.

Terminating in San Jose actually solves nothing for anyone.

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

the DTX tunnel and TTC train box were designed by TJPA, with input from Caltrain and CHSRA.

BruceMcF said...

Morris Brown said...
"Electrification which is all at the most needed for the postion of stopping at San Jose, is less then 1.5 billion, including train sets for CalTrain."

Electrify it as it is now, and the speed limit for most of the way is 79mph. That's one of the reasons why the electrification plan calls for grade separation, so that the speed limit can be raised and Caltrain can take full advantage of the faster acceleration and deceleration of the EMU's.

The Baby Bullets are 67 minutes. Electrification without raising the speed limit might cut that by as much as 15%, so 57 minutes at best. Plus a transfer. Assume five minutes for a transfer, and wait time has about twice the penalty on ridership as time in motion, so effectively around 67 minutes total.

67 minutes versus 30 minutes is a 37 minute penalty, so you are talking about lost farebox revenue in the range of $100m's per year. Each $100m lost farebox per year is $1.57b at a real interest rate of 5%, $1.96b at a real interest rate of 3%.

Alon Levy said...

The best way to build HSR is to place a line along the I-5 corridor from Sacramento to LA. That's it. This is how an independent private enterprise would build it: straight-forward, politically uncomplicated, and fast (both in speed and construction time). Can't handle the Grapevine? You can't handle HSR!

SNCF clearly can't do HSR, then. It endorsed the currently chosen route.

Alon Levy said...

Rafael, the Taiwan HSR problems aren't about station locations. The Taipei terminus is already at the main train station. Besides, ridership is high, 2.5-3 million per month. The real problems are about the high-interest loans THSR had to take to build the line. Using that as proof that HSR is doomed is like using subprime mortgage delinquency as proof that all housing construction is doomed.

Anonymous said...

Since grade separation / rebuilding every single existing Caltrain station / rebuidling most existing grade separations/ subjecting the Peninsuala to non-stop construction for years will cost $5billion - you stop in San Jose.

Anonymous said...

More like $10 billion on the Peninsula when all is said and done. Even the official budget has already doubled, and the design work is not even done yet.

Sun Rises, Sun Falls said...

I don't have time to correct all of Bruce McF's bullsit, but the Baby Bullets make scheduled runs of 57-59 minutes between San Francisco and San Jose. Lots of schedule padding is involved, and I have been on Baby Bullets that run closer to 50 minutes.

Where the hell do you get 67 minutes, Bruce McF? I understand, you're an economist.

http://www.caltrain.com/pdf/Weekday_NB_08-31-2009_WEB_PRINT_PAGE_01-02.pdf

The 79mph speed limit is an arbitrary FRA rule for that equipment. The actual trains are capable of much faster speeds, and the FRA allows up to 125mph before mandatory grade separation.

Peter said...

Are there any publicly accessible documents where Caltrain's and CHSRA's input is documented? I'm just curious what they actually commented.

Peter said...

@ Sun Rises, Sun Falls

I think Bruce McF was referring to Baby Bullet run time from Tamien to SF and vice versa, not from Diridon. Those are in fact scheduled at 66 minutes.

Sun Rises, Sun Falls said...

SNCF clearly can't do HSR, then. It endorsed the currently chosen route.

No self-interest involved with SNCF's evaluation whatsoever, hmmm?

Now if SNCF is willing to share financial risk on the building of CHSRA's route, then I'll believe that they are serious about HSR. SNCF needs to put their money where their mouth is. I strongly suspect SNCF knows the route sucks, but they are looking for some fat, risk-free contracts.

Sun Rises, Sun Falls said...

Peter, so HSR plans to run to Tamien? That's news to me. No, Bruce McF just got it wrong.

The current Baby Bullets already make 4-5 stop along the SF-SJ route. HSR is proposing 30 minutes for a non-stop SF-SJ service, but a non-stop Baby Bullet can make it in 45 minutes EVEN WITH the heavy diesel equipment. With lightweight EMUs, HSR is scarcely any faster than electrified, lightweight Caltrain equipment. It's the elephant in the room.

AndyDuncan said...

With lightweight EMUs, HSR is scarcely any faster than electrified, lightweight Caltrain equipment. It's the elephant in the room.

People have clearly pointed to said elephant and said that it doesn't matter if the elephant is painted in Caltrain Livery or CAHSR livery, your technicolor pachyderm is going to need quad tracks to run a non-stop express, to have the capacity, and to offer an equivalent level of service as a quad track HSR+Caltrain service.

Adirondacker12800 said...

and will also cost the loss in HSR ridership from adding a transfer and 10min to 15min additional travel time SF to LA-US.

Would they have to transfer at all? If there is a nice track electrified at the same standard as San Jose to Anaheim there's no reason why the doors can't pop open in San Jose, let some passengers off, let some on - ones who will be paying through the nose to experience it - then close doors close and continue onto San Francisco. It would be as stupid as terminating a southbound Acela in Baltimore because MARC serves Union Station in DC or terminating a northbound Acela in Trenton because NJ Transit serves Penn Station in NYC. Carry this to the extreme Acela is redundant, extend MARC one station from Perryvile MD to Newark DE and there's no need for Acela between NY and DC, there's perfectly good commuter trains between the two.

Anonymous said...

FRA allows up to 125mph before mandatory grade separation.

The CPUC doesn't. In fact, they don't even allow grade crossings with more than two tracks.

Adirondacker12800 said...

The 79mph speed limit is an arbitrary FRA rule for that equipment. The actual trains are capable of much faster speeds, and the FRA allows up to 125mph before mandatory grade separation.

The speed limit is for the track not for the equipment. No reason why they couldn't slap a hand car, one of those things that move because you are pumping the handle up and down, on the tracks. It's not going to go 79 MPH. There's probably a "speeder" enthusiast or two on the Peninsula who does it now and then. And a train capable of 220 MPH is going to move as fast as the hand car if there's a hand car on the track.

They could harden the grade crossings. It still leaves them as grade crossings. Lets just say 8 Caltrains an hour, two more than currently because the faster speeds have attracted riders. 4 super expresses carrying HSR passengers. Or twice as many trains as there are now. It means the grade crossings will be closed twice as often or twice as long whichever way you want to look at it. How long does that last before local residents are clamoring for grade separation which has to be done around a railroad that is twice as busy as it is now?

a non-stop Baby Bullet can make it in 45 minutes EVEN WITH the heavy diesel equipment

Okay, Caltrain needs to run a super express every 15 minutes when it collects the people transferring from the long distance train from Los Angeles. They haven't done any upgrades at all. 45 minutes means there's at least 2 super expresses on the track. Either you have to suspend local service or the super express moves as fast as the local. Should work out very well all around.

Anonymous said...

a non-stop Baby Bullet can make it in 45 minutes

And I can drive across the Bay Bridge at 70 mph.

Neither of these facts are relevant.

Anonymous said...

With ramp-metering, you can pretty much drive across the Bay Bridge at 70mph during rush-hour. 50mph at a minimum. The new Bay Bridge construction has screwed up the speeds, but was that factored into the decision to replace the Bay Bridge? The years of significant disruption to Caltrain has to be cost-factored into the decision to completely rebuild the corridor with massive construction.

What about a Baby Bullet II round of investment? Electrification; positive train control; add some new four-track sections to facilitate passing and add capacity; straighten the San Bruno curve with grade separations here and there. Complete grade separation is a luxury. Even close some of the minor crossings. This will get so much more for the taxpayer dollar.

Anonymous said...

"going to need quad tracks to run a non-stop express, to have the capacity, and to offer an equivalent level of service as a quad track HSR+Caltrain service."

And who needs all that? Its a pipe dream that all of a sudden a million people need to get on a train to LA from SF everyday. Its just pure BS. People will get on at all station points between SF and SJ - MORE even than board directl IN SF (because SF is frankly a pain in the ass, and the only locals that really do it are the ones that MUST because they work there, or the few that LIVE there because they're sick like that. Caltrain "as is" has PLENTY of capacity - Caltrain improved (TWO TRACKS, electrified, grade separated (because grade separated 2 tracks is FAR less intrusive and utterly avoids all the negavitive impacts that the NIMBY's care about - than widened to 4 tracks. Then, come the day that Caltrain is busting at the seams over capacity a) you'll be able to rake riders over the coals for fares, thereby PAYING for the next round of improvements b) you'll have the local political support to make the next round of improvements.

You guys REALLY need to start thinking like this as a marathon, not a sprint.

jim said...

So as the project and funding moves forward as planned the deniers sound more desperate.

Anonymous said...

Jim, the funding situation is a basket case. Have you not been paying attention?

jim said...

The funding is not a mess, they have applied for the funds, on schedule and the general feeling is that cali is most qualified to get a nice chunk.

Anonymous said...

grade separated 2 tracks is FAR less intrusive and utterly avoids all the negavitive impacts that the NIMBY's care about

That's a really strange statement, and one that I doubt many NIMBYs would agree with. To them, the "Berlin Wall" issue is the same regardless of the number of tracks.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 6:53pm -

The HSR project will deliver the following in the Caltrain ROW:

- electrification
- positive train control
- quad tracks
- full grade separation

Basically, everything you want "Baby Bullet II" to deliver but with state and federal authorities picking up the bill.

It could deliver rectification of the San Bruno curve as well but Caltrain doesn't want to re-open negotiations with the city of San Bruno. IMHO, that's a mistake resulting from a desire to maximize stimulus funding even if it's for a 10-year old design that didn't take HSR into account.

John D said...

Wow, since every Anon is clearly an engineer/railroad expert i wonder why they don't use their real names? I'd love to look up some of their scholarly work on the suject. You know peer-reviewed journal articles and all of that sort of thing that real professionals need to do.

I would hate to find out they were all pulling "facts" out of their arses. Or as Richard M. calls it "male answer syndrome"

John D said...

Anon 11:13pm

"SF is frankly a pain in the ass, and the only locals that really do it are the ones that MUST because they work there, or the few that LIVE there because they're sick like that."

What on the sweet earth are you talking about!?

CHSRA is projecting about 30,000 daily boardings in SF. Hardly millions.

Why do people which absolutly no idea what they are talking about insist on being the most shrill and hyperbolic in the room. I you listened or (god forbid) read somthing you might learn a thing or two and (maybe... big maybe) have something relavent to add to the conversation for once.

jim said...

"SF is frankly a pain in the ass, and the only locals that really do it are the ones that MUST because they work there, or the few that LIVE there because they're sick like that."

(That's right, and we're gonna keep that idea floating around to make sure folks like you stay away)

Brian Stanke said...

@Rafael

I met with Caltrain staff last week and the claim the the San Bruno curve will be upgraded to ~90m mph instead of the current 60 mph. That should lessen the impact on HSR trains (and Baby Bullets considerably.

As for the TBT, I am glad to see the research you did for this post but there are a few whopper mistakes you keep repeating about the TBT. (I'm cross-posting this to the Taiwan post as well.)

1. & 2. The TJPA is looking not only at a direct connection to Embarcadero but ALSO at Montgomery. A big sewer line would complicate the Montgomery ped. tunnel, but $$ solves all engineering problems. So with enough funds BOTH can be built. This would best serve HSR and BART by splitting up the circulation impact of transfers between the two BART stations.

2. The CA HSRA was asked in 2000 what curve radii they needed. Their response was 493 feet. Since then the TJPA has enlarged the radii several times. The HSR radii are now 650 feet (Caltrain can use different rolling stock with smaller turning radii for 110-125 mph max speeds). So, A how is this a big problem anymore and B, how is TJPA to blame when the HSR Authority told them under 493 feet and didn't correct it for 8 years! The TJPA fixed the radii to be better let's all move on.

4 & 5. The throat and tunnel will be redesigned, maybe as 2 or 3 bores, as soon as money becomes available, but it is far from cast in concrete. I am not an engineer so I can't say if the design allows more than 20 trains per hour per direction or not, but it can and will be fixed as part of the final (re)design. The box will be an empty box the tunnel will be built later.

6. Building bottom up allows a lot of flexibility as to where the columns go, if the Terminal is built top-down the columns will be forever stuck in place.

7. Transit advocates have fought for decades for a future standard-gauge fixed link to East Bay. If you want to walk in and say both they and BART are full of it... Well that is your right but don't expect to change any minds. That provision, like the Transbay Terminal reference in Prop 1A, was written into law for a good reason.

Anonymous said...

Sun Rises, Sun Falls, etc. is correct. The CHSRa needs to develop a barebones fall-back scheme I-5, Grapevine alternative.

Alon Levy said...

Grapevine isn't bare bones. The expected cost is the same as for Tehachapi, and the potential for cost overruns is much larger.

Anonymous said...

But the Grapevine is way more direct. Let's go for broke. If your goal is to save money go for an incremental upgrade to 110 mph and cut a deal with the UP.