Monday, September 28, 2009

From Russia With Love

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

Is California's high speed rail future on display in Russia? According to Siemens and the New York Times the answer just might be "yes":

Siemens’s new train — the Sapsan, Russian for peregrine falcon — is a candidate for the high-speed link planned between San Francisco and Los Angeles that may open in 2020. Alstom, the maker of the French TGV trains, and Bombardier are also contenders. Japanese bullet train designs by Hitachi, which are lighter but less secure in a low-speed crash, the only type of collisions survivable, are another option.

The technological breakthrough of the Sapsan is that the train has no locomotive. Instead, electric motors are attached to wheels all along the train cars, as on some subway trains. (Passengers sit in the first car too.) Its top operating speed is 217 miles an hour, though in tests this model has reached 255 miles an hour, or about half the cruising speed of some jet airplanes.

For now, though the Sapsan will only be traveling at about 150mph over Russia's dilapidated rails.

Siemens is aggressively pursuing the US market, particularly us Californians:

The United States “is a developing country in terms of rail,” Ansgar Brockmeyer, head of public transit business for Siemens, said in an interview aboard the Russian test train, as wooden country homes and birch forests flickered by outside the window. “We are seeing it as a huge opportunity.”

To position itself to compete in the United States, Siemens has placed employees from its high-speed train division at its Sacramento factory, which produces city trams.

California desperately needs jobs like those that would be created building high speed trainsets in Sacramento. Opponents of HSR argue that the risk of a "boondoggle" is greater than the value of the jobs that would be created - 160,000 for the construction of the project, and 450,000 ongoing jobs, according to CHSRA estimates. I have a very difficult time believing that to be the case, especially when California faces the highest unemployment since the end of World War II.

But back to Russia (for a moment). Jaunted, a "pop culture travel blog," wondered if this was a case of "the space race race moving to the rails." It would be nice if we could move past Cold War metaphors when comparing the US to Russia, but clearly the space race was an iconic era in the 20th century, where international rivalry produced major human accomplishments that might not otherwise have gotten done. And as much as I support space exploration, it is undeniable that HSR provides more immediate and tangible benefits than putting a man on the moon.

What really matters is that nations like Russia, Poland and others are recognizing that having a high speed rail network is essential to their future economic prosperity. The US is not immune, despite what those who refuse to admit that the transportation models of the 20th century no longer work would have us believe.

I don't have any plans to be in Russia anytime soon, but if I did, I'd take time to ride the Sapsan.

64 comments:

Alon Levy said...

Yes, Japanese trains are less survivable in crashes. They get away with it by not crashing - the Shinkansen has had zero deaths from accidents, unlike trains in certain other countries that are sometimes held up as models for California to emulate.

wwlu said...

FYI

Russian "Sapsan" is ICE3 that is 330mm wider.

China "CRH3" is ICE3 that is 300mm wider and has a 2+3 seating arrangement.

William said...

I don't know about Japanese Shinkansen being less survivable. Maybe this is an Euro central thinking?

Jay said...

Its an American way of thinking.
ROW ideas about how to survive a crash is not to get into one. America thinks we should all be in a safety cocoon.

swinghanger said...

@William
My thoughts exactly. I believe the reporter naively restated Siemens marketing propaganda.

matt said...

It is like the space race, but when the US and Russia finally get there, they find the Euros and Japanese have been there for decades!

Peter said...

Heh, yes. As if the U.S. landed on the moon only to find the Chinese were already there offering knock-off lunar landers.

Alon Levy said...

"Our trains crashing and killing 100 people is totally not our fault! Just don't buy trains from those Asians!"

jim said...

Lol @ peter...


Anyway everyone knows that if you want top of the line substance with style you have go with the french.

jim said...

and I will not ride on one of those german trains where the wheels fall off thank you. I just won't.

The french are the only one's I trust.

The asians don't like us that much and they use cheap parts for everything.

jim said...

Tonight I found these new brochures at work. Wow I was drooling, I mean Ive been in a couple of these working on board, but I guess there are all these owners and this assoc. is where owners charter their cars - you can get your group together, charter the car of your choice, hook up to the back of the amtrak train of your choice and have the most fabulously stylish old time posh experience ever. if I ever win the lotto Im gonna buy one of these.....
but this is really totally cool. I have no idea how much it costs though but I wonder if we'll be able to charter private cars on HSR too.

AAPRCO
American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners
Our mission is to promote the operation, ownership,
and enjoyment of the private passenger railcars

Rafael said...

The Velaro RUS is a variant of the Velaro E already in service in Spain. It was fitted with Russian gauge (1520mm) bogies, which made wider car bodies possible.

It also features winterization measures such as cooling air intakes on the roof of the vehicle to prevent snowdrifts from clogging them. These measures were tested in the world's largest low temperature wind tunnel at Rail Tec Arsenal in Vienna, Austria.

http://w1.siemens.com/press/en/presspicture/pictures-photonews/2009/pn200903.php



The tracks between Moscow and Saint Petersburg were in fact upgraded, as was overhead catenary system. Delapidated? I don't think anyone in the US has anything at all to crow about on the rail front.

RZD had to keep this line at 3kV DC for backward compatibility with some legacy rolling stock. This, not the quality of the tracks, is the reason for the 250km/h (155mph) speed limit. There's only so much current you can transmit through the tiny contact point of a pantograph.

The Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod line is already electrified at 25kV AC, trains will run at full speed there.

Btw: the Velaro is an all-Siemens product family and subject to maintenance intervals that are in line with the rest of the industry.

The ICE3 and ICE-T trains resulted from design by committee at the behest of Deutsche Bahn, which also insisted on extremely long maintenance intervals and allows freight trains to use it slab track high speed lines at night. Unobtainium? Sure, how much would you like?

DB are also the ones responsible for the ill-advised wheel retrofits on the ICE1 trains in the 1990s. One retrofit wheel broke, causing that train to derail at 125mph and costing 101 persons their lives.

It's not entirely appropriate to blame Siemens for DB's follies.

Rafael said...

Btw: the Swedish X-2000 and the Norwegian BM71 were designed an built by what is now Bombardier's heavy rail subsidiary. Its Chinese JV just landed an huge order for 80 Zefiro 380 trains, though those will not need to be winterized.

Siemens isn't the only company that knows how to build high speed trains for arctic climates, though it is the first one to offer a product capable of 186mph top speed in those conditions.

Having multiple vendors to choose from may be relevant for HSR projects in the Chicago hub network, the Empire, Keystone and Cascades corridors plus Canada.

Morris Brown said...

Considerably more information on the Menlo Park /Atherton et. al. lawsuit has been posted on the court's website.

Despite continued postings here, that the EIR would simply be amended and not rescinded, you should note from this post that the Authority's defense has agreed to the following language..



A peremptory writ of mandate shall issue under seal of this Court ordering Respondent and
26 Defendant CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL AUTHORITY to rescind its certification of the Final Bay Area to Central Valley Program EIR and to rescind its approval of the project.

Respondent and Defendant CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL AUTHORITY shall file a
written return to the peremptory writ of mandate demonstrating its compliance no later than
seventy days following service of the writ upon the CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL
AUTHORITY.



Again this is from the Attorney General's proposed writ.

What is now at issue is whether project level EIR work must stop until a new program level EIR can be certified. There will be a hearing on Oct 9th, on this issue.

This is on the court's website.

https://services.saccourt.com/publicdms2/DefaultDMS.aspx

you enter year 2008 and case number 80000022.

This takes you to all of the posted filings in the case. This material is found in the 9/11/09 posting.

Rafael said...

@ Morris Brown -

there have been some comments that the Bay Area to Central Valley EIR certification would not be rescinded.

However, given how the judge had ruled on Atherton vs. CHSRA, I don't see how it could not be. It's just that it's still unclear exactly what that will mean in this context. The notion that everything has to start from scratch is almost certainly wishful thinking on the part of opponents. The notion that Altamont-via-Dumbarton must be reconsidered may also be false, since the judge ruled against the plaintiffs on the related points.

What CHSRA will most likely need to do is spell out the right of way acquisition process in the SJ-Gilroy sections. Scenario 1: UPRR changes its mind, scenario 2: CHSRA buys adjacent land (via eminent domain if need be), scenario 3: CHSRA switches to an alternate route etc.

It will also need to clarify that the PCJPB corridor is too narrow in certain places, such that some land acquisition (via eminent domain if need be) may be required there as well. That means spelling out how much width is needed for 4 tracks side by side, if any additional width is needed for shoofly tracks during the construction period etc.

CHSRA had expected to deal with these issues in the project-level phase, but the judge decided that at least some of that needed to be spelled out at the program level, i.e. factor into the decision on the route.

In addition, FRA should demand more than handwaving from CHSRA on UPRR's contention that operating high speed passenger trains in "close" proximity to freight trains is inherently dangerous in the event of a serious cargo spill or derailment - regardless of who owns which patch of land. I'm not convinced UPRR actually has a valid point but CHSRA cannot dismiss it as casually as it has done to date.

My expectation is that CHSRA will be asked to draft a supplementary document addressing the specific points on which the judge ruled in favor of plaintiffs. This draft will then have to be recirculated among stakeholders before CHSRA can spell out a preferred route and send the whole ball of wax to FRA for re-certification.

Meanwhile, I hope the judge will allow at least certain aspects of the project-level work to continue, if only because they are needed to draft the supplementary document.

We'll know more on Oct 9.

TomW said...

This is being over-egged...
"The technological breakthrough of the Sapsan is that the train has no locomotive"
Trains like that have been around for at least 50 years, and Alstom did such a high-speed a few years back with the AGV.
"...a low-speed crash, the only type of collisions survivable, are another option."
In the Hatfield accident in teh UK back in 2000, the train was doing 115mph (185km/hr) when it derailed, hardly "low speed". The vast majority of people on board survived.

On a seperate note, the notion of the USA as a "developing country" is rather cute...

Rafael said...

@ TomW -

yes, the person who wrote this for the NYT doesn't know squat diddley about heavy rail and didn't bother to do much in the way of fact-checking.

Arguing that the Velaro RUS could be used for SF-LA ignores that it's not even the same gauge and that the winterization features aren't needed there. The Velaro E would be a much better fit, as would the Alstom AGV, the Talgo 350 and now, the Bombardier 380 (if downrated to 360km/h).

JR East's Fastech 360S development platform also reached the requisite top speed of around 220mph.

As for the US being a developing country in terms of rail, I think that's a bit of an insult to developing countries that are actually forging ahead with HSR. Countries like Brazil, Morocco and Vietnam, for example.

Anonymous said...

Then, since we have no certified EIR, and no approved route, then we have no voter approval for AB3034. (because the vote is then based on premises that were presented as factual truths, which are no longer factual truths) So, which political body takes care of this? Are we required to take someone to court? or does our state legislature declare it void? State attorney general? What's the process.

Morris Brown said...

Rafael:

The Lawsuit has serious implications with regards stimulus funding.

Exec. Director Morshed, originally told the board not to apply for funds in this segment, because he didn't feel the time deadlines could not be met (Make shovel ready by Jan 2012)

The Board over-ruled him. On Thursday they are going to final approve the stimulus request package, and funds for the SF to SJ are in the package. If Morshed didn't think they could meet the deadline before an adverse CEQA ruling had been issued, how in the world is he gong to make the deadline now?

In point of fact much of the SF to SJ request for funds is for projects that CalTrain wants, and are already cleared through CEQA. The problem is that CalTrain doesn't qualify for stimulus funding; the FRA is not going to look kindly on funding projects that don't have HSR CEQA approval.

On top of all of this is my assertion, that bond funds cannot be used before total funding for a segment (in this case SF - SJ) is in hand. That is written into Prop 1A. So the legislature by law is going to be prohibited from using Prop 1A funds in the SF - SJ corridor until full funding is obtained; anyone know where the Authority is going to find 3 to 5 billion from other sources, and do this before Jan 2012.

Morris Brown said...

@anonymous 8:17

Prop 1A did not have language that said the route was EIR certified. Too bad really, so I don't think it can be rescinded on that basis.

It had other elements which you would think would require it to be rescinded, such as the promise of a business plan before the election, which was never approved. That is apparently not enough to get a court to rescind.

It certainly had the requirement that it terminate at the Trans Bay Terminal. I don't see how it can go anywhere else.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 8:17am -

nice try, but you'd first have to prove that CHSRA was being deliberately deceptive as opposed to simply interpreting CEQA rules differently than Judge Kenny did. What's at issue is which part of the environmental review process, program or project level, considerations such as eminent domain risk should be included in.

No-one ever claimed that the entire environmental review had been completed prior to last November's election.

AB3034, the bill passed into law by passage of prop 1A(2008), doesn't even refer to the status of the environmental review process at the time. The notion that a law should be voided because the marketing campaign in favor of it advertised what was then fact but was later overturned by a court case strikes me as fairly ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

Morris, it sure does. Very first paragraph:

"...consistent with the authority’s
certified environmental impact reports of November 2005 and July 9, 2008."

If there is no certified environmental impact report, then what the hell did we vote on?

Anonymous said...

Rafael, no one's talking about malicious intent to decieve. Out of the goodness of their hearts, the CHSRA presented something as fact to the voters, (which they believed true at the time), that later turns out to be proven non-factual in court.

That means that the votes are invalid! The underpinning of Prop 1A is now no longer valid - so how can voter's votes still be valid?

Voters did not approve ANY willy nilly version of reality, they approved the version based on july 2008 CERTIFIED project EIR

Look at it this way - would voters approved prop1A if the authority's marketig campaign would have said the HSR will go somewhere where we don't know yet, and will cost something (alot) which we don't know yet, and have impacts which we don't know yet. No! voters would not have approved that.

So VOTERS should now have the right to vote again on the actual certified EIR version of HSR.

Rafael said...

@ Morris Brown -

Morshed was referring to the readiness of the SF-SJ corridor as a whole. Neither AB3034 nor the timeline of the project-level EIS/EIR work were conceived with the possibility of a stimulus bill with HSR funding in mind. Basically, the additional $8 billion on the table for HSR nationwide came from left field, but they are tied to aggressive time horizons that break the planning time line for California HSR.

What TJPA and CHSRA are now trying to do is maximize the amount of stimulus funding that will go to California. To achieve this goal, they've cherry-picked certain component projects that are shovel-ready under the terms of the stimulus bill, i.e. start of construction prior to Sep 30, 2012, or else exempt from CEQA (priority grade separations).

This has required some mild sophistry. For example, the electrification infrastructure in the PCJPB corridor will ultimately benefit both HSR and Caltrain. The HSR project is effectively investing in kind for the right to use the PCJPB corridor. Caltrain will indeed get to use the infrastructure before HSR does, but that's not at all the same thing as HSR funding something that will only ever be of benefit to Caltrain.

A more substantial criticism is that CHSRA's grant application pledges a state-level match for the HSR stimulus funds it seeks. Considering that ARRA does not require such a match and that the state of Florida isn't putting any skin in the game for its own request, there is first of all the political question of why on earth CHSRA felt compelled to make such a pledge at all. It's not as if there are lots of other express HSR grant applications in Ray LaHood's inbox and, California's bond rating isn't exactly stellar right now.

There's a time to keep your powder dry and perhaps now would have been it.

Legally, there is the question of whether the language of AB3034 would even permit the state legislature to make good on that pledge if it decided it wanted to.

Without a completed project-level environmental review, an up-to-date business plan including the scenario in which the HSR starter line is never completed plus other documentation, bonds for a particular segment (e.g. SF-SJ) usable by HSR trains cannot be appropriated. Securing non-state matching funds is a necessary but not a sufficient condition, something CHSRA knows full well or ought to.

Worst case, CHSRA could end up with up to $4.57 billion in stimulus funds it cannot spend because the state cannot actually appropriate the pledged matching funds! How's that for bitter irony?

Simply concentrating whatever federal stimulus dollars are made available on priority projects within that itemized list may not be legal. Deferring stimulus spending until the project-level EIS/EIR is mature enough is also not an option.

Therefore, it's conceivable the state legislature may yet have to somehow "borrow" funds from some other program to meet CHSRA's pledge and then repay them at a later date when the conditions for prop 1A(2008) bond appropriations are met. The precedent would be BART putting the Warm Springs extension on hold for donkey's years to plug a funding gap in the SFO extension.

However, $4.5 billion is a rather larger funding gap to plug. Also, I don't know if there's any legal mechanism for such borrowing at the state level.

All of the above presupposes that FRA will even grant all or at least some of the funding that CHSRA has requested.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 9:21am -

votes don't automatically become invalid because a marketing statement that was true and made in good faith at the time later gets overturned in a court case.

I understand your political desire to put HSR to a popular vote a second time. What I'm talking about is the legal requirement to do so. IANAL, but IMHO you're desperately trying to make a mountain out of a sizable mole-hill.

jim said...

@anon Look at it this way - would voters approved prop1A if the authority's marketig campaign would have said the HSR will go somewhere where we don't know yet, and will cost something (alot) which we don't know yet, and have impacts which we don't know yet. No! voters would not have approved that.

you do realize that hsr had even higher approval in the polls in previous months/years to the election when voters didn't know much of anything about it pro or con, which indicates an overall level of support regardless of the details.

Anonymous said...

Rafael, its not a marketing statement. Its a sentence in the law that is invalid, not factual. There is no certfied program EIR.

Morris Brown said...

@anonymous 8:17 and Rafael:

First, I was wrong when I wrote:



"Prop 1A did not have language that said the route was EIR certified.


You are right and I thank you much for finding my error. The official Prop 1A language reads:



Article 2. High-Speed Passenger Train Financing Program
2704.04. (a) It is the intent of the Legislature by enacting this chapter and
of the people of California by approving the bond measure pursuant to this
chapter to initiate the construction of a high-speed train system that connects
the San Francisco Transbay Terminal to Los Angeles Union Station and
Anaheim, and links the state’s major population centers, including Sacramento,
the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley, Los Angeles, the Inland
Empire, Orange County, and San Diego consistent with the authority’s
certified environmental impact reports of November 2005 and July 9, 2008.


So anonymous brings up another really important and possible problem resulting from the lawsuit which may cast a long shadow on the legality of Prop 1A.

Morris Brown said...

@Rafael

And let's be fair. This language is not from any campaign document; this is the written law, which presumably voters passed after reading.

It may well be like fine print in a contract, but what is laid down in print should be what governs.

Rafael said...

@ Morris Brown -

again, I'm not a lawyer, but I still think you're clutching at straws.

Perhaps it would be best if we all just waited for Judge Kenny's ruling on the remedial measures CHSRA will have to implement. His beef was with four very specific aspects of the Bay Area to Central Valley Final Program EIS/EIR, not with voter approval of the the overall HSR project.

dave said...

No one was deceived. If you vote and you don't understand what your voting for then your safest voting NO. If you vote yes then you must have understood what you where voting for. Nobody came up with all of this at the last minute, stuck it on the ballot and hoped you'd be a fool, like so many HSR opponents beleive.

The CHSRA website has been up for years. The route through the Peninsula through Caltrain was their, the Pacheco pass was their. Pretty much the whole route was their and now you people are being a bunch of soar losers because you lost.

I was expecting Prop 1A to fail even though I voted Yes because of all the negativity of the cost and such. It didn't and was even projected to win at, at least 57% maybe more before all that bad news of our economic problems in the state.

Now you people are desperate and are prying Prop. 1A word for word trying to undermine the meaning to give you some sort of hope and posting it on here hoping it becomes fact. How desperate can you people get?

Anonymous said...

votes don't automatically become invalid because a marketing statement that was true and made in good faith at the time later gets overturned in a court case.

For the longest time since the vote, this blog has repeatedly gone to the language of Prop 1A as the writ of what must happen with HSR. Altamont could never happen because of what Prop 1A says, blah blah blah. As the program EIR is decertified and even the Transbay Terminal is in question, now this language is just a "marketing statement"???

Convenient and duplicitous.

Alon Levy said...

Rafael, are you sure that the Zefiro 380 trains won't need to be winterized? Northern China has some of the harshest winters in the world, with temperatures lower than in any other major urban area outside Russia and Canada. The Chinese winters are dry so there's less of a snow problem than in Tohoku (where JR-East is capable of running trains at 360 km/h) or Korea (where Korail runs trains at 300 km/h), but the temperature is a real problem, and further south the winters do get snowy.

Alon Levy said...

"The technological breakthrough of the Sapsan is that the train has no locomotive"
Trains like that have been around for at least 50 years, and Alstom did such a high-speed a few years back with the AGV.


50 years? Try 100. Interurbans and electrified subways have been running EMUs since day one.

In the Hatfield accident in teh UK back in 2000, the train was doing 115mph (185km/hr) when it derailed, hardly "low speed". The vast majority of people on board survived.

Compared to the TGV's zero-deaths derailments at 300 km/h, that is indeed low-speed.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 11:27am -

no, when I referred to it as a marketing statement I was not yet aware that it had been included in the language of AB3034. That does give the issue more weight in a legal sense.

Still, we'll have to wait and see just what Judge Kenny rules CHSRA must do to remedy the situation. In his initial ruling, he dinged CHSRA on procedural issues related to UPRR's letter and on substantive matters related to right of way acquisition - especially its failure to explicitly mention the risk of eminent domain takings.

AB3034 says that "it is the intent [...] to initiate construction of a high speed train system [...] consistent with the authority’s
certified environmental impact reports of November 2005 and July 9, 2008."

Now, the certification for the one dated July 9, 2008 is likely to be revoked. CHSRA will have to make as-yet unspecified changes and submit those to a new round of stakeholder reviews before re-submitting everything for re-certification.

IMHO, AB3034 would be in jeopardy only if its text were to become inconsistent with the reworked Bay Area to Central Valley Final Program EIS/EIR. That would be the case if that document were to change in a substantive way, e.g. a change of preferred route from Pacheco to Altamont-via-Dumbarton that would affect the defined HSR corridors within California and/or make it impossible to achieve any of the required line haul times.

If all Judge Kenny requires is that CHSRA make explicit the risk of eminent domain takings and distribution of UPRR's letter, then IMHO there is no substantive change and AB3034 stands. I doubt the Judge will render an opinion on the knock-on implications for AB3034.

Of course, that's just my reading of the tea leaves and IANAL. Chances are, someone somewhere will sue the state of California in an effort to get AB3034 annulled on the basis of the technicality of de-certification of the July 9, 2008 version.

Rafael said...

@ Alon Levy -

the Velaro RUS can start at temperatures as low as -40degC (-40F) and keep running in ambient temperatures as low as -50degC (-58F) once the lubricants, elastomers, power electronics etc. have been brought up to operating temperature.

As for China, it does get really cold north-east of Beijing. However, Transport Politic reports that trains into the provincial capital Harbin will run at no more than 200km/h (125mph) so they wouldn't use the Zefiro 380 for that. The press release didn't mention winterization requirements for any part of the fleet of 80 units that were ordered.

Francis said...

As a voter I dont consider my vote for HSR invalid because of technical changes in the EIR.

Prop 1A was to vote in favor or against a bond measure. I still want them to spend the money, but now they have to work out the details of constructing a huge project. First opponents were focused on cost, then the route, then the EIR.

Keep up the good work in opposing this thing.

mike said...

Goodness, this isn't that complicated. The wording says:

(a) It is the intent of the Legislature by enacting this chapter and
of the people of California by approving the bond measure pursuant to this
chapter to initiate the construction of a high-speed train system...consistent with the authority’s
certified environmental impact reports of November 2005 and July 9, 2008.


Translation: You must build a system that sounds like what is described in those Nov 2005/July 2008 documents! It does not say that the documents have to remain in the exact state that they were on Nov 2005 and July 9, 2008. Maybe later the documents are later decertified, recertified, supercertified, miscertified, whatever. From the perspective of Prop 1A, it doesn't matter, as long as you build what was originally described (i.e., what the voters voted on).

Where it would potentially be a problem is if, when recertifying the documents, you changed the project at the program level (e.g., switched to Altamont instead of Pacheco). Then you might be able to make a case that Prop 1A is being violated. But until/unless that happens, it's just a lot of hot air about nothing.

Alon Levy said...

the Velaro RUS can start at temperatures as low as -40degC (-40F) and keep running in ambient temperatures as low as -50degC (-58F) once the lubricants, elastomers, power electronics etc. have been brought up to operating temperature.

I'm not sure any part of the US or even Canada needs this. The Midwest gets really cold sometimes, but it's not colder than Beijing or Seoul, or snowier than the northern Tohoku region.

Peter said...

I agree with Mike on that last part. It's a matter of statutory construction.

In California, a voter initiative is interpreted to give effect to voter intent. Voters are assumed by the court to to be aware of existing laws and judicial constructions in effect at time legislation is enacted. I would interpret that to imply that the voters are assumed to have understood that the route was supposed to be along Pacheco, as that was the route specified in the EIR. Only if CHSRA was to change the route to Altamont would the voters' intent be violated. Therefore, as long as the route decision stays the same, Prop 1A will stay in effect.

AndyDuncan said...

Calgary gets below -30 most years, according to Wikipedia.

They haven't decided, however, if Calgary-Edmonton line is going to be a full HSR line or just a 100-125mph link.

Rafael said...

@ Alon Levy -

it can get pretty darn cold in Minnesota, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, places like that. Also, remember that ice storm in Kentucky last year? You want trains to keep running even when cars and planes no longer can.

At least it's good to know that two reputable high speed train manufacturers have already cut their teeth on very harsh winter conditions on someone else's nickel.

We ve Got No Money for Toys (not even for Xmas) said...

You're just like kids dreaming about the train toy they have asked Santa for Xmas. Once again you're putting the cart before the horse. You don't even have a sure plan for this high speed rail, as a matter of fact you don't even know if it will ever be built, and you're already dreaming up the locomotive that will pull the carts. Well! At least your dreaming won't cost us taxpayers any money! Carry on! Keep dreaming! Christmas is near!

AndyDuncan said...

The Velaro E would be a much better fit, as would the Alstom AGV, the Talgo 350 and now, the Bombardier 380 (if downrated to 360km/h).

JR East's Fastech 360S development platform also reached the requisite top speed of around 220mph.


Not sure why you would need to "downrate" the bombardier, aren't the lines being built to support a 240mph top speed? 236mph, if the train can run it in service, is within the supposed design specifications for the tracks and OCS systems.

Also, Kawasaki announced their efSET trains and the Koreans have announced their intention to bid on at least parts of the system.

It's beginning to look like CAHSR is going to have a heavily populated shelf from which to pull off rolling stock.

AndyDuncan said...

@Toys

Not sure why I'm bothering to respond, but maybe you haven't been following the arguments very well. It used to be one of the denier talking points that nobody makes a train fast enough to run 220mph that CHSRA specced out in their docs, and therefore the system would never meet it's design goals.

It's now looking like CHSRA was conservative with their estimates regarding what type of trains would be available, and that they will have a number of off-the-shelf trains available to them by the time they need to acquire rolling stock.

But glad to hear you're moving on to other flawed arguments.

BTW: you realize they make toy trucks, right?

Anonymous said...

In California, a voter initiative is interpreted to give effect to voter intent. Voters are assumed by the court to to be aware of existing laws and judicial constructions in effect at time legislation is enacted. I would interpret that to imply that the voters are assumed to have understood that the route was supposed to be along Pacheco, as that was the route specified in the EIR. Only if CHSRA was to change the route to Altamont would the voters' intent be violated. Therefore, as long as the route decision stays the same, Prop 1A will stay in effect.

Prop 1A doesn't even mention "Pacheco Pass" or Altamont Pass". It's intentionally vague on the issue, merely referring to the July 2008 EIR (now decertified). Prop 1A, however, does very clearly state the "Transbay Terminal" as part of the route. Kopp now wants to change that. You want to have it both ways: Prop 1A as a pre-determined route yet it can be flexible when Kopp deems so.

We've Got No Money for Toys said...

@AndyDuncan: I'm not against trains. They're very useful and efficient to carry freight. Actually I'm not even against high speed passenger trains, when they're built in countries where people are likely to use it. And to tell you the truth, I wouldn't even be against one in California, if they were built by private investors. But I'm against your socialist plans to build a passenger train using taxpayers' money in a State that doesn't have any money and where fewer people than you think will ever use it. But I don't worry too much. I know that it will be a very very long time before your dreams even start to come true. Wanna a piece of advice? Don't sell your car just yet. I'm sure keeping my truck!

Alon Levy said...

it can get pretty darn cold in Minnesota, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, places like that. Also, remember that ice storm in Kentucky last year? You want trains to keep running even when cars and planes no longer can.

Chicago and Toronto are about 1-2 degrees colder than Beijing, Seoul, and the northern end of Honshu. They're less snowy than Niigata.

And all cities you list are warmer than Harbin, which Wikipedia says will get 350 km/h service by 2012.

Robert Cruickshank said...

The discussion of the case coming from Morris Brown makes it quite clear that the goal was not to fix the EIR, but to kill high speed rail. That much is obvious from their willingness to toss out the $9 billion in Prop 1A funds AND the $5 billion or so in requested federal stimulus funds.

AndyDuncan said...

Wanna a piece of advice? Don't sell your car just yet. I'm sure keeping my truck!

I don't plan on selling my car. I think even the most ardent HSR proponent plans on keeping their cars so that they can drive them on all those nice socialized roads and freeways. I even plan on taking flights out of our socialized airports on a plane guided by our socialized air traffic control systems.

Robert Cruickshank said...

As I read the documents, the basic elements of the remedy remain in dispute. CHSRA and Jerry Brown agree that there should be a reworking of the existing EIR, but deny in strong terms that ongoing work should be suspended.

My guess is Judge Kenny, having issued a very narrow ruling that threw out virtually all of the plaintiffs' claims, will give a similarly narrow ruling on what is to next be done, and will not do anything to undermine the project or its application for stimulus funds. A short period to revise the EIR to bring it into compliance is likely to be the remedy.

Peter said...

I agree with Robert. Especially if CHSRA has already come up with solutions to the issues that the judge ruled against them on, I don't see why the judge would need to order a stop to the work.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 2:43pm -

AB3034 didn't really leave the question of Altamont vs. Pacheco unresolved. For one thing, it explicitly leaves that decision up to CHSRA, which by that time had already settled on Pacheco, hence the definition of SF-SJ-Fresno as one of the eight corridors that are supposed to be competing for prop 1A(2008) funds.

For another, the Altamont corridor was defined as Stockton and Merced to San Jose. Nothing in there either way about a new rail bridge across Dumbarton.

On the other hand, SF politicians did explicitly mandate Transbay Terminal as the SF station. What they didn't mandate is that CHSRA accept TJPA's definition of what that means.

Brian Stanke said...

@Rafael, anon, Morris, and Robert

Actually Prop 1A explicitly allows for Pacheco OR Altamont (Dumbarton). This is seen where it defines the corridors:

(B) San Francisco Transbay Terminal to San Jose to Fresno.
...
(G) Merced to Stockton to Oakland and San Francisco via the Altamont Corridor.

Further the text is explicit in that the CAHSRA can pick whichever alignment whenever:
(4) Nothing in this section shall prejudice the authority’s determination and selection of the alignment from the Central Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area and its certification of the environmental impact report.

Of course now that the Authority WON the Pacheco v. Altamont part of the lawsuit, the chances that they will change their mind (as they are allowed to by Prop 1A, and the de-certification of the 2008 EIR) are still nil.

Transbay Terminal and LA Union Station are set in stone earlier in the text:

(2) As adopted by the authority in May 2007, Phase 1 of the high-speed train project is the corridor of the high-speed train system between San Francisco Transbay Terminal and Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim.

Finally the EIR text says:
(c) of Section 2704.04, consistent with the authority’s certified environmental impact reports of November 2005 and July 9, 2008, as subsequently modified pursuant to environmental studies conducted by the authority.

That still leaves the 2005 EIR/S standing AND is EXPLICT that those may be "subsequently modified pursuant to environmental studies conducted by the authority."

Morris and Anon what part of "subsequently modified" do you not understand? The Authority can modify the design as part of project-level or do-over EIS/Rs, period.

lyqwyd said...

@Brian Stanke

Good work!

lyqwyd said...

As far as the whole lawsuit goes this is really non-news. We already knew there would need to be changes to to the EIR and that CHSRA would have 70 days to do it. What we don't know is if the judge will require all work to stop for those changes to be done. This info does not answer that question, so there is really no new information.

My personal belief is this whole lawsuit will at worst be a trivial delay, and very likely be no delay at all.

I'm sure CHSRA is already working on fixing the portions that need fixing, and they will have several more months to do it.

Ultimately we're still guessing and will have to wait for further information.

asian HSR supporter said...

Lol @ peter...

Anyway everyone knows that if you want top of the line substance with style you have go with the french.

and I will not ride on one of those german trains where the wheels fall off thank you. I just won't.

The french are the only one's I trust.

The asians don't like us that much and they use cheap parts for everything.


::rolls eyes::

Fortunately, jim won't be in charge of train procurement, otherwise nationalism would take precedence over technological suitability.

Alon Levy said...

The asians don't like us that much and they use cheap parts for everything.

Westerners say things like this and then wonder without irony why Asians don't like them.

jim said...

@ Toys, I sold my truck 2 years ago and I don't drive at all anymore and I now use all the money I saved on payments and insurance on hookers and booze and I laugh at the people at the gas station and when santa comes to your house you are getting a lump of coal.

jim said...

you want to only ride in french trains...... you're getting very sleepy.... veeeerrryyy sleeeepy.. french trains... freeeeench traaaaains....ooooo when I snap my fingers you will awake on an AGV.....

Alon Levy said...

The AGV isn't ready yet, and I don't want to sleep this long.

However, please do this again next time I get sick, so I can get medical attention in the country ranked first in health care and not in the one ranked 37th.

jim said...

okay a compromise.
French trains, but the cafe can serve sushi and thai food. mmmm its a win for everyone.

jim said...

how about AGV with french hospitals on board

AndyDuncan said...

@Alon: The AGV is slated for delivery a year from now to Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori, with revenue service by summer 2011.

If they can keep anything close to that schedule, it should be ready in plenty of time.

Even the other announced trains should be ready by the time CHSRA needs to have them.