Thursday, September 3, 2009

HSR to North Concord

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

by Rafael

Contra Costa county has been left out of HSR plans so far, even though it has over a million residents. BART does serve both Richmond and the central part of the county, but traveling from Concord to San Francisco just to catch a train to LA is slow and inefficient. Martinez is on the Capitol Corridor line to Sacramento, but the station is not served by rapid transit within the central part of the county.

In addition, the county has long wanted BART to provide commuter rail to Pittsburg and Antioch. However, the Contra Costa line is already very long and the Pittsburg/Bay Point station little used during the day. BART is installing a crossover between Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill so it can improve service into SF.

Moreover, hwy 4 doesn't have a median in Pittsburg proper, one reason why Bay Point was chosen as the end point of the line.

Correction: Caltrans has since moved the freeway lanes to create the missing median specifically for eBART. (h/t Winston)

To address congestion on the freeways all the way into SF, BART came up with the idea of eBART, a separate service to be based on standard gauge DMU equipment. The plan calls for fully grade separated, dedicated tracks to be built in the hwy 4 corridor on aerials where no median is available. Passengers would execute a cross-platform transfer to a regular BART trains at a point just east of Pittsburg/Bay Point. The line was originally supposed to go all the way to Byron, site of a general aviation airport Concord had hoped to move all the Buchanan Field traffic to so it could redevelop that real estate. The magnificent men in their flying machines rebelled and the eBART line was shortened to Antioch.

IMHO, this is an ugly cloodge. If you're only going to bite the bullet and build a dedicated dual-track alignment out to Antioch, you might as well forget about DMUs and stick with third rail. Just terminate a fraction of all eastbound trains in North Concord and be done with it.

However, there have been two recent developments that could make standard gauge eBART a good idea after all, albeit with a twist:

a) California voters approved prop 1A(2008) to build a statewide HSR network

b) Concord recently assumed ownership of the 5,028-acre inland portion of the old Naval Weapons Station (NWS) and has begun the process of planning transit-oriented development there to re-use the facility. Removing the many bunker structures could prove difficult, in Vienna (Austria) city officials eventually discontinued efforts to dynamite the five remaining WW2 era anti-aircraft towers. One was converted into an aquarium.

Right now, no standard gauge rail station is planned even though the tracks for one are already there. Perhaps the locals don't want dirty diesel FRA-compliant behemoths in their near new district or perhaps, the US Army isn't prepared to permit additional passenger trains through the tidal area (Port Chicago), which it took over from the Navy.

If Concord were to change its mind, BART could decide to truncate its regular line at North Concord and use the already-present tail track there to turn trains around. After converting the existing tracks to standard gauge, eBART could exit the freeway median and dead-end in a new station at the western edge of the NWC, right next to the one for BART. So far, this doesn't make any sense at all: re-gauging is expensive and, instead of a cross-platform transfer from diesel to electric rolling stock, passengers would have to walk a short block between the platforms of the two stations.

However, since eBART remains unfunded anyhow, there is method to my madness:

By extending the tracks to south Stockton via the BNSF ROW and adding 25kV AC overhead catenaries, Contra Costa county would gain a valuable connection to the already-planned phase 2 HSR spur up to Sacramento. Getting up to Sacramento or down to SoCal would then become a snap, no long drives or BART rides to OAK or SFO required. The central and eastern parts of the county would still be a part of the Bay Area but also enjoy proximity to the rest of the state - maybe even Las Vegas one day. Note that commercial passenger service into Concord's Buchanan Field was terminated in 1992 in response to a noise ordinance, it is now only used for general aviation.

The western portion of this connector would be shared by eBART and HSR trains, with a suitable speed limit.

To make the connection happen, an aerial would have to be constructed in Oakley/Brentwood. My map shows an alignment along Lone Tree Way but that's just a suggestion. Running tracks above any city street in a semi-rural town is a sensitive topic in terms of environmental impact. Multiple alignment variations would need to be studied. The objective is to provide the missing link between the hwy 4/160 interchange and the BNSF ROW. In return for permitting this structure, eBART would terminate in Oakley instead of Antioch. This station would serve both Oakley and Brentwood.

Instead of diesel multiple units, eBART would be based on non-compliant electric ones similar to those Caltrain intends to use. Both single-level and bi-level models are available from various vendors. However, support for bi-level rolling stock depends on the available vertical clearance in the short tunnel to the freeway median in North Concord. The gradient there is also critical, as HSR trains are limited to 3.5%. BART trains are even lighter per unit of length than HSR trains and, equipped with motors that permit larger gradients.

HSR trains trains would only stop in Antioch and North Concord, both stations would be built with full-length platforms. The best location for the Antioch station would be up to that city, I just picked A Street as a placeholder. Same for Oakley. The Pittsburg/Bay Point station would be retained for eBART service.

Note that the phase 2 spur up to Sacramento depends on UPRR ROW through Stockton and within the state capital. If CHSRA ends up partnering with BNSF between Bakersfield and south Stockton, getting to North Concord would just be a matter of keeping going across the flood plain. The wye on the map below would then look a little different. Who knows, with UPRR taking a hard line on its ROWs, North Concord could even be part of the HSR network before Sacramento is.

Note that BART could implement eBART as planned, but with elevation transitions that are already compatible with HSR: 3.5% maximum gradient, 6 mile vertical curve radius. That should not be a problem since the DMU equipment the current plans call for can't handle large gradients, either.

The truncation of the regular BART line plus re-gauging of the existing tracks would be deferred until HSR actually comes to the county. The objective now would be to avoid a design that would preclude that option just to cut a corner. The critical decision here is if the city of Concord wants to retain the option of constructing a standard gauge station for eBART/HSR station opposite North Concord BART at some point in the future. That option would still be easy enough to include in the urban plan right now, the station area could be designated as a park for now. That park would later be replaced by a publicly accessible green roof on top of the station building, which would also keep the platforms in the shade.

However, the location of the eBART/HSR station area and the design of the future building would need to take pedestrian traffic between the BART station and the new district into account. Having to climb over a tall building would be a barrier to mobility, so the platforms may well end up underground. HSR needs full-length (1/4mi) straight platforms and in this case, they would need to be as close as possible to the BART station. The eBART trains will be much shorter.

Side note: AnsaldoBreda, an Italian manufacturer of both transit and high speed rail vehicles, has an assembly plant in Pittsburg.

On the following map, the truncated regular BART line is shown in red, the new eBART/HSR line and station in blue, the inland portion of the NWS in yellow. Note that only the area near the BART station will be used for transit-oriented development. The eastern and southern sections will be open space preserves. Please see the reuse project website for details.

View HSR to North Concord in a larger map


無名 - wu ming said...

huh? are you talking about a phase II route between the bay area and sac? why in the world would concord get built before sac?

Marcus said...

There's also this possibility:

Marcus said...
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Marcus said...

Wu, he's not talking about extending the actual HSR to Concord, but rather a connecting slower train to Stockton, so people who live in the east county don't need to take BART all the way to SF.

Rafael said...

@ Marcus -

no, that's a misunderstanding, look at the title of the post. I was talking about running fully grade separated bona fide HSR tracks across to North Concord as an extension of the already-planned network. A phase 3 spur, if you will.

It's just that
between Oakley/Brentwood and North Concord, the HSR trains would slow right down from 150-200mph to whatever speed limit needs to be imposed so a separate regional rail service with more stops can operate on the same tracks. By default, figure 79mph.

However, in this variation eBART would

@ wu-ming -

I was being a little facetious. Of course Sacramento is the the intended destination for the phase 2 spur. It's just that CHSRA is counting on co-operation from UPRR from south Stockton to the Sacramento HSR station, so actually getting a ROW is going to be a challenge.

BNSF is more willing to accommodate HSR, so cutting across the floodplain as far as Oakley would at least not be a major ROW nightmare. The BNSF track could stay at grade, I don't think there's a lot of cross-traffic on those rural roads.

Rafael said...

@ Marcus -

sorry, one sentence got cut off due to my butterfingers:

However, in this variation eBART would use lightweight, non-compliant EMU equipment that can support a top speed of 90mph.

Current, eBART is based on lightweight, non-compliant diesel multiple unit equipment. Not sure about the top speed they're looking for from those, probably no more than 79mph.

Ned C said...

My preference would be to extend BART north in Pittsburg to the existing railway line, and meet a new station on an ACE line from Stockton to Oakland via Antioch Pittsburg and the Capitol Corridor. It could also link up with a Tracy - Brentwood - Antioch - Pittsburg ACE route eventually.

If some more funds were available BART could make the turn north farther east, but of course that starts to lose the advantage of linking up to the commuter lines.

As far as eBART goes, I hate the plan, and never have understood how it's supposed to be "far" cheaper than a BART line in the same place; they are both new lines, in a corridor without rail, and have similar space requirements (yes, BART is wide gauge, but that doesn't really change much in terms of construction). Add to that the it's an unnatural transfer in the middle of a single corridor and I just don't see any justification. At least connecting to new commuter lines should have some real cost advantage and leave some ability to run expresses to Oakland at peak hours.

If theres anywhere that an eBART like solution seems to make sense to me, how about on I680 if that ever happens? Start at the Dumbarton connection, follow the ACE line to the highway, then north all the way to the Capitol line. This would at least be using conventional rail technology in a place that it integrates with existing lines rather than as a supposedly cheaper way to extend a rapid transit line a couple stops.

On the same sort of note, I'd suggest that the proper place to end the Dublin/Pleasanton brand is the Livermore ACE station.

Rafael said...

@ Ned C -

BART is a subway with lines over 50 miles long, except that multiple lines share many parts of the system.

Any delay on any line during rush hour and there are ripple effects throughout the system, which is running at or even above design capacity in downtown SF.

Adding another 20-30 miles to the SFO-Pittsburgh/Bay Point line would make the system even less stable, which is why BART is pushing back against demands to simply extend the line. Indeed, it is adding a crossover between Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill so it can turn some trains around there instead of having to run out to Pittsburgh/Bay Point.

The advantage of eBART is that it avoids making the core BART network even more prone to delays and associated loss of capacity.

The per-mile capital investment eBART would require is indeed virtually the same as for regular BART. The rolling stock is a little cheaper and you don't need the third rail, but the transfer-only station costs money too.

What I was suggesting is that the transfer point be moved west to a regular transfer station that is a destination in its own right.

North Concord would be the easiest in to construct because BART already has tail tracks there and the newly available land in the NWS would permit a station with as many platforms as would be needed. The new transit-oriented district in the NWS is currently being planned.

Admittedly, downtown Concord would be more of a destination for long-distance HSR trains than North Concord. The BART tracks are elevated there, so there would be room above the parking lots for a head-end station for the proposed standard-gauge services (eBART + HSR). However, that variation would be more disruptive, which is why I didn't suggest it in the post.

I wouldn't go south of Concord because BART has a yard between its Concord and Pleasant Hill stations that it would need for overnight parking.

Transferring between standard gauge and BART is exactly what Caltrain passengers going to west SF do today at Millbrae.

jim said...

There will already be an hsr station in stockton where there will be a transfer point from both martinez and antioch in contra costa via existing and expanded ( in the works ) san joaquin service.

jim said...

At one time bart had its eyes on extending out to stockton. I guess they got their fingers into capitol corridor to satisfy the visions of grandeur.

They were also in one original plan, going to loop from pittsburg around the back of mt diablo, down to livermore as there where huge development plans for the back side of mt diablo.

I think tat unless we get phase one built, and up and running we shouldn't be worried about phase 3.

If the commuter (hsr) overlay includes a station in the livermore valley area, then walnut creek concord folks can get to that easily via 680 and will choose that over going all the way to the bay area airports.

Winston said...

The reason e-BART is standard gauge is that when the original planning was done it was intended to leave the median of CA-4 almost immediately and to follow the UP Mococo line through Pittsburg and Antioch, eventually to Byron. This plan failed when UP refused to sell their ROW for a reasonable price (is the story sounding familiar to HSR backers yet?). As it stands, the plan for e-BART is that it will leave the CA-4 median at Hillcrest ave in Antioch and eventually be extended along the Mococo ROW further east where it is less constrained. This legacy as well as the desire to extend the system further is why standard gauge equipment was picked over a regular BART extension. The most recent chapter in the saga of e-BART was the fight over where to put the Hillcrest station in Antioch. Antioch wanted the tracks to locate the station just past Hillcrest, after the tracks had left the median so they could redevelop a large, vacant parcel with high density, transit oriented development. Unfortunately, the money for this wasn't available, so the tracks will end in the median and the station will be built in a much less convenient location.

I would suggest that for connectivity to HSR the best alternative would be to run e-BART parallel to the UP ROW into Tracy to meet the Altamont HSR line. There is space to build this line with out demolishing many structures without UP's cooperation and with no takings if UP chooses to cooperate.

Winston said...


BART decided that extending out to Stockton or even Tracy was really, really something that didn't want to do. In fact, their final proposal was running express buses to Tracy from a future Livermore station. As for the Capitol Corridor, BART ended up managing it when legislation was passed that was intended to eliminate the state division of rail and replace it with regional agencies. This led to the CCJPA being created and taking over management of the Capitol Corridor from Caltrans. BART seemed like a pretty reasonable choice to manage it since they had experience running rail service and since they already served two of the counties served by the Capitol Corridor.

flowmotion said...

IMO, the route Rafael has sketched out here makes a lot sense. Stockton needs a direct connection to the Bay Area transit system. Plus, this an approach which puts rail out of direct competition with the highway system, giving it a huge service advantage.

The existing plan of running rail down to Bryon or Tracy via Antioch is one of the silliest goddam things ever. Who wants to commute into the Bay Area by going all the way around Mount Diablo?

Also, in the long run, we need to start thinking about how HSR will actually connect SF-Oakland to Sacramento. Detouring down to the Altamont Pass via Dumberton was never an ideal route, and is now probably off the table anyway. We would be better served by either upgrading the Capital Corridor, or following a Stockton alignment as Rafeal has shown here. (Of course, there's numerous other details TBD.)

Rafael said...

@ jim -

(a) the Stockton HSR station will be in the downtown area. Amtrak San Joaquin stops in south Stockton. There will be no intermodal station to transfer at north of Modesto, and that's assuming CHSRA is forced to use the BNSF ROW instead of a greenfield ROW next to UPRR.

(b) Martinez Amtrak doesn't have much in the way of connecting transit into central CC county.

(c) eBART will provide an extension of commuter/regional rail service into central CC county the Bay Area, but no intermodal station with Antioch Amtrak.

(d) Amtrak SJ currently consists of 4 tpd out of Oakland and 2 tpd out of Sacramento. That's per day, each way. The first train of the day leaves Antioch at 9:35 and arrives in Richmond at 10:25. Add another 20 minutes to downtown Oakland and 30 to downtown SF. Provided the trains run on time, that's time-competitive with eBART + BART. It's just that it's way too late in the day for commuters. A truncated Modesto - Oakland service could run earlier in the day.

However, not a whole lot of people commute from Antioch to SF. I'll wager plenty do from Antioch to central CC county, which Amtrak cannot serve.

(e) HSR to North Concord (or downtown Concord, if preferred) would permit several trains per hour to SoCal and several more to Sacramento.

Winston said...


One minor nitpick about your post: there are no aerial structures planned for eBART. It will run entirely at grade in a widened freeway median in the first segment.

Daniel said...

There are so many better things that could be done in transportation with the billions that this fantasy would cost. This idea has about as much merit as HSR to Redding or Palm Springs--not much. The existing Bart system and new DMUs are sufficient for suburbia/exurbia.

jim said...

are you sure that stockon hsr will be downtown as stockton is planning to consolidate the ace station and the san joaquin street station into a new multi modal joint station south of the wye including a huge real estate development.

downtown stockton wouldnt make sense because everyone is too terrified to go there.

jim said...
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jim said...
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jim said...

multimode project

Rafael said...

Gents, reality check here.

Now that Pacheco has been selected and complaints about supposed bias in the EIR process dismissed by a judge, the only chance of getting full-fat HSR through Altamont Pass is if CHSRA can't secure a ROW through south San Jose.

ACE ought to get some much-needed incremental improvements, e.g. a shortcut via the 580 median, some work in Niles Canyon to press the old SP track on the north slope into regular service (cut a deal with NCRY). Add to that signaling upgrades (PTC functionality) plus WiFi on board.

However it's going to remain a service based in part on trackage rights on UPRR tracks, top speed on there will remain 79mph. I say this because, having studied this in some detail, I've concluded that there is no viable ROW for dedicated standard-gauge tracks between Niles and San Jose.

Assuming FRA and UPRR are willing to permit mixed traffic (cp. Caltrain waiver), ACE could switch to the lightest possible DMU rolling stock with most powerful turbodiesel option to boost the power/weight ratio.

If that's still not enough to get across Altamont Pass, there might even need to be track-embedded linear electric motors to assist the diesels in getting the train across the hump at a useful speed.

The objective for the ACE upgrade should be to eliminate wait states and slow sections to improve line haul speed and, to reduce fuel cost. Only if that's not enough should active tilt rolling stock or exotic stuff like gauntlet curves be considered to avoid slowing down too much through the remaining curves.

The objective should not be to build a gold-plated system of tunnel for what will be still be a strictly regional rail service.

Livermore should get its BART extension and an intermodal with ACE just east of Greenville Rd would be swell. But otherwise, that's pretty much it for Altamont.

A true HSR spur makes sense to me for central CC county, via the construct described in the post. There is a sizeable population, no commercial airport nearby and the terrain is flat. The biggest issue would be permission to run a connector between the BNSF ROW and the hwy 4 median.

AndyDuncan said...

Livermore should get its BART extension and an intermodal with ACE just east of Greenville Rd would be swell. But otherwise, that's pretty much it for Altamont.

There's plenty of room to bring BART into livermore along the Stanley Blvd ROW and connect to the ACE station downtown.

Since BART has apparently given up on dragging rail to Tracey, there's no reason to continue making idiotic station placement decisions by putting another station in an inaccessible freeway median.

Rafael said...

@ Winston -

well, if they moved freeway lanes to keep eBART at grade, all the better. Google maps satellite view may be out of date.

Post is corrected, thx.

@ Daniel -

I think you're missing the point here. I'm not suggesting that true bullet trains be used to support commuting into central CC county. That's eBART's job.

What I am suggesting is that there is a case for direct HSR service out of central CC county to Sacramento, the CV and down to SoCal.

HSR trains using the proposed solution would leverage the investment in eBART to provide single-seat service, with high speed achieved only east of Oakley.

Rafael said...

@ Andy Duncan -

a downtown BART/ACE intermodal in Livermore would be even better.

jim said...

no one cares about the eastbay anyway.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

I don't know Stockton well enough to know where exactly the crime-infested neighborhoods are. What I do know is that CHSRA's plans called for a station well north of the intersection of the UPRR and BNSF lines in south Stockton.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

"no one cares about the eastbay anyway."

Where did that come from?

jim said...

Rafael said...
@ jim -

"no one cares about the eastbay anyway."

Where did that come from?

lol just a sudden morning fit of san francisco centric hyperbole.

So, basically they are planning hsr with without bothering to work with existing rail up and down the valley for tranfers and multi modal stations.

even though the long range san joaquin plan calls for upgrades to speed and frequency designed to feed intermediate valley passengers into the hsr line.

now I see why people get so cynical.

Adirondacker12800 said...

multiple lines share many parts of the system

Like subway systems all over the world....

which is running at or even above design capacity in downtown SF.

How well though out is it to ADD passengers to the system?

At one time bart had its eyes on extending out to stockton.

Then rational people asked how many hours a 90 mile subway trip would take on a system that runs all local all the time.

HSR to North Concord (or downtown Concord, if preferred) would permit several trains per hour to SoCal and several more to Sacramento

Only after they outlaw cars. More like several a day.

If that's still not enough to get across Altamont Pass, there might even need to be track-embedded linear electric motors to assist the diesels in getting the train across the hump at a useful speed.

I suspect that linear induction motors cost a tad more than stringing catenary. If you have enough traffic to justify the cost of development of this diesel/linear induction fantasy then there's enough traffic to justify conventional cheap catenary, probably all the way from Stockton to San Jose.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

first off, this idea for taking HSR into North Concord was my idea, not CHSRA's.

Second, as I tried to explain:
- eBART + BART = commuter rail
- Amtrak California = intercity rail, slow but serves many secondary towns
- HSR = intercity rail, fast but serves few stops.

Third, CHSRA actually sited the stations in consulation with city officials. At the time, those in Stockton apparently wanted a station that was intermodal with ACE and Amtrak SJ out of Sacramento.

Keep in mind that whatever UPRR has said, CHSRA's official plans still call for the alignment to hew close to UPRR/hwy99 through Fresno and points north. They traded off proximity to downtown areas against intermodal stations with Amtrak SJ in Merced and Modesto.

If UPRR forces CHSRA to cut a deal with BNSF all the way from Bakersfield to south Stockton, then the city of Stockton could ask for its one and only HSR station to be moved. Any such change would need to go through a review process with all the stakeholders, the mayor can't just make that decision single-handedly.

Amtrak is tied to making the most of certain freight rail corridors it has trackage rights on. Turning lemons into lemonade. CHSRA has the luxury of building brand-new tracks, so stakeholders have a chance to say what they really want as opposed to accepting the best Amtrak can do within the constraints it has to plan, invest operate under.

Rafael said...

@ Adirondacker12800 -

"How well though out is it to ADD passengers to the system?"

BART projects are driven by the political interests of the counties that pay its bills. Contra Costa county wants service extended to its eastern end, just like Alameda wants it out to Livermore and down to Fremont Warm Springs.

Santa Clara, not formally a member of the BART consortium but still one of the paymasters, wants it extended all the way to Santa Clara.

SF politicians and BART's own operators want these expansion plans reined in and money spent on increasing pedestrian flow capacity in the system core.

Oakland wants BART to build a people mover to its airport.


Rafael said...

@ adirdondacker12800 -

"Only after they outlaw cars."

For central CC-Sacramento, you might have a point. Driving up 680/80 is a direct and usually painless experience. HSR's modal share would be modest, as long as gas prices are low. Last summer, when they reached $4.50 in California, train ridership shot up.

For central CC-SoCal, I think you underestimate just how long a drive that is. OAK and SFO are both pretty far away. On this route, modal share would be very high.

Rafael said...

@ adirondacker12800 -

"I suspect that linear induction motors cost a tad more than stringing catenary."

Per-mile, you're absolutely correct. Bombardier has light rail vehicles based on this propulsion system, because some cities want electric trans but not the visual impact of catenaries. IOW, it's already been developed.

What I was thinking of is applying this expensive technology only in short stretches and only if it makes the difference between tunneling and continuing at grade.

Stockton-SanJose is over 70 miles and there are sections such as the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge where it would be hard to get approval to construct an OCS at all.

無名 - wu ming said...

following the capitol corridor route for the HSR phase II extension from the bay area to sac would be great for the I-80 corridor (and me, personally).

mike said...

I think this is one of the better drawing-board proposals you've come up with, Rafael.

The biggest loss from choosing Pacheco over Altamont is that it basically eliminates Sacto-SF and Sacto-Oakland service.

But if you built a relatively cheap connection from Stockton to Pittsburg BART, you could have city center-to-city center travel times of 90 minutes for Sacto-SF (30 min HSR + 8 min transfer + 52 min BART) and 77 minutes for Sacto-Oakland (30 min HSR + 8 min transfer + 39 min BART).

That's a pretty decent improvement over the Capitols (130 min Sacto-SF and 115 min Sacto-Oakland). You could also potentially run trains south from Pittsburg, primarily serving residents of CoCo County living east of Orinda and north of Danville. It's not clear that there would be enough demand in that relatively small catchment area, however.

Rafael said...

@ wu-ming -

the problem is that UPRR owns the entire ROW from SJ to Sacramento, north of Oakland it's a busy freight corridor.

There's zero room for additional tracks in most locations and, UPRR isn't volunteering to upgrade tracks and signaling to 90 or 110mph because it introduces a speed mismatch: freight trains wouldn't ever run that fast.

Adding bypass tracks resolves the speed conflict, but someone has to pay for laying them.

Higher speeds are only safe if the track geometry is within tighter tolerances. Track geometry degradation rate is roughly proportional to the fourth power of axle load. FRA-compliant diesel-electric locomotives weigh in at over 30 tonnes/axle.

For reference, non-compliant HSR trains: 17 tonnes. As a first order approximation, that's a factor 10 difference.

Ergo: if you want high speed but not spend every free minute of your day maintaining track geometry, you need to use lightweight trains and keep heavy freight off your tracks as much as possible. Mixed traffic requires a waiver from FRA (cp. Caltrain EMUs)

There may well be sections of the Capitol in which new passenger-only track can be laid next to existing freight tracks, possibly on newly acquired land. UPRR might be ok with hosting passenger trains to run past its own trains at 90-110mph, provided they slow down to 79mph max whenever the cut back over to the freight tracks.

However, there are large sections of the Capitol Corridor in which laying new track would be impossible: Benecia bridge and approaches, Martinez-Oakland Coliseum, Niles-San Jose. The Oakland Coliseum-Niles section of the Mulford line is currently single-track and could be double-tracked.

The Newark-Alviso section probably could not, for environmental reasons. Making the Alviso line one-way southbound and the Milpitas line one-way northbound would increase capacity, but require track work at Niles. Another big issue is that such an arrangement would have to apply to all users, including UPRR itself. San Jose residents in the Ryland Park area would have a massive hissy fit at the whole idea.

Running passenger-only tracks in the I-80 corridor would be difficult and expensive where there is no available median. Also, the bridges across the Carquinez bridge weren't designed to take the load of heavy rail trains.

Ergo, running HSR out to the Concord area is probably as good as its going to get.

Note that it is possible to implement express bypass tracks in freeway medians via track stacking: on half-buried, the other half-elevated (minimizes required run length for elevation transitions back to grade).

In a wide median, you can have the eastbound tracks and island platform above the westbound ones. Pedestrian access via bridge from above or tunnel from below. If you have to use side platforms, enabling access to both from either side is more difficult.

Rafael said...

@ mike -

"You could also potentially run trains south from Pittsburg"

I'm not sure what you have in mind here. As discussed above, there standard gauge head-end station could be moved from North Concord to downtown Concord, but there is limited room there. BART would need to retain access to its yard just south of that station to park trains overnight.

Considering that the NWS is still undeveloped, I figured North Concord would be good enough. A connector road up from Willow Pass Rd. along the edge of the NWS might be useful for distributing vehicle traffic to any intermodal BART/eBART/HSR station there.

Btw, CC county as a whole has about a million people. Richmond (pop 100k) is the only larger town on the bay side, see map. The catchment area would also include parts of Vallejo/Benicia, Hercules/Pinole, Dublin/Pleasanton/Livermore.

The biggest issues would be additional vehicle traffic, parking and NIMBYs living near the station. What else is new.

Adirondacker12800 said...

On this route, modal share would be very high.

100% of nothing is still nothing.
How many Greyhound stations are there in the area this will be serving. If Greyhound can't scare up a few dozen people how many train passengers are there going to be? The airport lost commercial service, if there was a lot of traffic they wouldn't have rolled over and let it be abandoned.

Bombardier has light rail vehicles based on this propulsion system, because some cities want electric trans but not the visual impact of catenaries. IOW, it's already been developed

And how many miles of it are in actual use? Ten? Twenty? More than 100?

Bombardier's catenaryless system doesn't use linear induction motors. The system is more or less a long series of primary coils of a transformer. It's used in sensitive historic districts and they switch over to regular catenary as soon as they can.

Their linear induction system, I'm familiar with the one in Queens, uses third rail for power conduction. Bombardier has a design build operate contract on that, who know how much money they are .... pissing away... so they can point at a system. It's built at standard gauge, if this goes seriously wrong they can thoow some LRTs on it. Bombardier and it's stockholders can have a nice chat, while conventional third rail streetcars run on the tracks.

There's railroad tracks all over out there, that implies trains. If they got out there with steam they can get out there with electricity. If they don't have enough passengers to justify conventional catenary they don't have enough passengers to justify a more expensive system.

Rafael said...

@ adirondacker12800 -

commercial service at Concord's Buchanan Field was terminated due to a draconian noise ordinance to curb jet noise. The locals didn't roll over and let the airport wither away, they actively killed it.

It's not that the ~800k residents who live in central CC (plus many more in Vallejo, Benicia, Pleasanton, Livermore etc.) don't want to fly. The just didn't want the noise.

The trade-off is a long drive or BART ride to OAK or SFO.

Jonlin said...

I'm not from the Bay Area but I'm wondering, if you're going to build completely new commuter rail/HSR in that area, why put it in a freeway median instead of on current rail ROW closer to the Downtowns of Pittsburg, Antioch, and the other towns along there?

Adirondacker12800 said...

The locals didn't roll over and let the airport wither away, they actively killed it.

Which implies there was great demand for it that rallied support for the airpor... oh....

jim said...

sigh, concord schmoncord, all this concern over poor coco county. I told you, no one cares about the eastbay, we aren't even sure where it is... we just know no one wants to go there. Thats why we closed the bridge today. really don't need it. 0 the next four days are gonna be dreamy in sf! we really need make this an annual event)

mike said...

I'm not sure what you have in mind here.

Sorry, I wasn't clear. The idea is that you'd have trains running from Pittsburg to Fresno, LA, and points south to serve people living in east/north CoCo County. But I'm not sure there would be enough ridership potential to justify those runs.

Btw, CC county as a whole has about a million people.

I'm aware of that. I grew up there!

all this concern over poor coco county... I told you, no one cares about the eastbay

Last I checked CoCo had more people in it than SF County. Oh wait, it still does.

Get over it Jim. Without the East Bay, Silicon Valley, and Peninsula, SF would be nothing more than a cute little tourist town with a disproportionate number of hipsters and homeless people. Which might suit you fine, but certainly would not give it enough significance to be under consideration as a HSR destination.

jim said...

tear down the bridge!

Rafael said...

@ mike -

CoCo county is currently very much oriented toward the Bay Area, precisely because it has only minimal transportation links to the Central Valley (except Sacramento) and none at all to SoCal.

HSR to (North) Concord would give central/east CoCo towns a chance to emerge from the long shadow of SF. I'm not sure Pittsburg or even Antioch are large enough to qualify as the end point of a phase 3 HSR spur. North Concord might be, depending on how the NWS is re-used. Downtown Concord would arguably be the most credible end point, but also involve the most disruption.

Further study of the alternatives would be required, but the cost of re-gauging a few miles of existing BART track wouldn't be a deciding factor.

jim said...

Where's concord? Never heard of it.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

your comedy routine is wearing thin. It may come as a surprise to you but SF is not the navel of the universe.

jim said...

Still, there won't be any hsr to concord. concord/walnut creek/pleasant hill, will have to use sf or the high speed overlay, at either oakland or livermore valley.

mike said...

Still, there won't be any hsr to concord.

That's probably true. But it doesn't necessarily mean that there shouldn't be. It really depends on how much it would cost to build it.

jim said...

although pittsburg antioch to connect in stockton via upgraded conventional to say, 110, would be an ok compromise.

jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.