Wednesday, November 11, 2009

San Diego Group Opposes UCSD/Downtown SD HSR Alignment

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

While the Peninsula NIMBYs tend to get the most attention from HSR advocates, the fact is that there are NIMBYs across California. It's not a phenomenon unique to the Bay Area. The NIMBYism we're seeing on the Peninsula is generated by a desire among those who benefited from the late 20th century model of land use to preserve that model, to oppose anything that might conceivably threaten or change that model. Despite the fact that such changes are absolutely necessary to produce economic recovery, energy independence, and environmental and climate security, for a certain segment of Californians those imperatives are less important than protecting what they've already got, exactly as it currently is.

High speed trains particularly suffer from this problem. Late 20th century California saw trains as an anachronism, and the worldview of most NIMBYs simply has no place for them. They live in an automobile world, where the idea of using high speed trains to grow city centers as denser and bigger population and job centers is fanciful. Wedded to a 20th century model of land use, they have no investment in 21st century technology. In fact, they see such technologies as an inherent threat to their worldview, and so they instinctively oppose their construction in their neighborhoods, convinced against all evidence that the way we do things right now is not only good, but can be preserved indefinitely.

Since that worldview is shared across California, it makes sense that we're going to encounter NIMBYism along much of the HSR route, no matter where it goes. And that makes it imperative that we not give in to such NIMBYism, rooted as it is in an irrational but deeply held defense of a status quo that has already failed for most Californians. Sending high speed trains to city centers, instead of stopping short of those centers, is an essential part of not just the system's overall viability, but in the project to rebuild the California Dream and provide broader economic prosperity for more people.

That's some necessary background for assessing new developments down in San Diego, where several neighborhood activists and elected officials are proposing a new but inferior alignment for HSR in the city. Instead of the line jogging westward toward UCSD and turning south to serve downtown San Diego and Lindbergh Field, they propose sending it all the way down Interstate 15 to a terminus at a football stadium:

The Interstate 15 corridor between Mira Mesa and Qualcomm Stadium would be the preferred route for the southernmost leg of California's proposed $40 billion high-speed train network, not a path that would take it through University City, a coalition of San Diego-area elected officials said today.

"A straight line is the most efficient way to get between two points," San Diego City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner said. "The meandering path that is suggested at present does not achieve that."

This "straight line" argument is becoming more and more common, even though it is complete nonsense. High speed rail means indirect routes designed to serve more people are not only still much faster than any other form of transportation, save for the airplane (which NEVER flies a straight line from runway to runway), but are more efficient at moving people within and between metropolitan areas. The primary purpose of HSR is to move people, NOT to get from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. Good HSR design will find the right balance between the two, not sacrifice one for the other.

What Lightner calls a "meandering path" is actually a path that follows the population. Hardly anyone actually lives in Mission Valley, certainly not at Qualcomm Stadium. But a LOT of people live in University City, directly across Interstate 5 from UC San Diego. And even more people either live in, or want to visit, downtown San Diego, whether for business or pleasure. (Count me as one of those people - I'll be there this weekend.)

The CHSRA map makes this clear. Qualcomm Stadium is noted by the black Q I added, near the junction of Interstates 8 and 15:



More about their proposal:

Instead of following Interstate 5, the coalition called for more study of keeping the trains on Interstate 15, past Mira Mesa to Qualcomm Stadium. The trains would then follow Interstate 805 to Tijuana's Rodriguez International Airport.

The Interstate 15 to Qualcomm Stadium route was studied by the California High Speed Rail Authority, but was largely dismissed because it doesn't end up in downtown San Diego or link up with Lindbergh Field.

San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye said environmental and community concerns over the the proposed route through University City have not been adequately addressed.

"The Rail Authority map showing the Carroll Canyon and Miramar Road routes are imprecise," she said. "They offer little clue to their potential impact to Rose Canyon and other sensitive areas."

This is really unfortunate framing coming from Frye, who should have been elected mayor of San Diego in 2005. Either she's deliberately misleading the public, or simply doesn't understand how planning works. Of course the CHSRA map is imprecise - the entire purpose of the current scoping process is to get public input on what the specific route should be, and examine the impact on the canyon.

What Frye, Lightner and others are really saying is that they think HSR is going to disturb the existing land use patterns and aesthetics of University City, and they would prefer that not even be considered. Instead of finding a way to make HSR work, they basically propose dumping passengers in an empty parking lot. Sure, the Q has a trolley station, but downtown San Diego is the central hub of all of the SD Trolley lines:



What they propose is essentially forcing intercity travelers to transfer to light rail at the Q to make it to their downtown destinations. That's even more inferior and impractical than making people transfer to Caltrain at Diridon Station to continue the journey to downtown San Francisco. If you have luggage, you're screwed, and the extra time on a much slower light rail train would make the overall travel time from downtown LA to downtown SD much less desirable.

Further, you're giving up a huge number of riders who would be using the train to/from downtown SD, including the University City/UCSD stop - a part of the city of San Diego that currently has no passenger rail service.

The CHSRA dutifully said they welcomed the feedback and would look at the proposal. Which is what they ought to do. Hopefully they'll reach the same conclusion they did before, which is that the Qualcomm Stadium terminus is inferior and impractical.

In the meantime, let's hope more San Diegans get engaged in the process, letting their elected officials know they support a train that will serve populations where they already are, instead of empty parking lots.

UPDATE: Matthew Fedder posted in the comments a letter he wrote to Lightner and Frye, and I thought it worth excerpting here, as he makes the environmental case FOR the University City/downtown alignment:

The purpose of having stops in UTC and Downtown is to support transit-oriented development in San Diego. In other words, bring the transit conveyances to where people live. And there are no more dense centers of population in San Diego than UTC and Downtown.

The Qualcomm parking lot is a no-mans land, the poster-child for automobile-based, sprawl-oriented development, with only one trolley line to serve as an oil-free, environmentally friendly alternative to get San Diegans in, and visitors out. It also happens to be a parcel of land that is expected to be completely re-worked in the near future - a project which, ironically, Counceilor Frye has opposed on the basis of the additional car-trips it will add to Mission Valley. You think think that's bad? Imagine 48,000 boardings and de-boardings a day in a location with almost no connection to public transit.

Exactly. Dropping passengers in the Qualcomm parking lot would be a cruel joke, a sign that San Diego isn't willing to truly embrace sustainable transportation or smart growth principles.

140 comments:

BBinnsandiego said...

"A straight line is the most efficient way to get between two points,"

Follow the logic of this argument and you'd end up with a coastal alignment from San Diego to Orange County. She'd certainly be against that as it too would go through her council district.

If she's worried about the traffic that comes with a station in her council district just delete it. That area is scheduled for the next trolley extension and the trolley will tie directly into a downtown or airport station.

Matthew Fedder said...

"What Frye, Lightner and others are really saying is that they think HSR is going to disturb the existing land use patterns and aesthetics of University City,"

I think they are really concerned about the Friends of Rose Canyon, a NIMBY/Interest group that has generated a lot of political pressure regarding any changes to the canyon. A bridge was supposed to be built across the canyon to connect two neighborhoods that only have one horribly congested link, but because of their advocacy and lawsuits, that bridge has been delayed for something like two decades. And that's an elevated bridge!

What the group really doesn't like about the train is that they won't be able to cross the canyon anymore, when they go on their morning jogs through the canyon.

The plans for the train through University City actually aren't very disruptive - they're already planning for a tunnel under the heavily developed area, after all (I'm guessing this is because it is a fairly small mesa, and the elevation climb to raise the train to an elevated ghjklkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk' uugh sorry cat walking on the keyboard.... to an elevated glideway for that short distance would be more expensive than the tunnel.)

Anyhow, I first read about this on the Del Mar Times. I left this comment on the article, and emailed it to Councilors Frye and Lightner:

By refusing to allow the high speed train to reach downtown San Diego, Sherri Lightner and Donna Frye betray their environmentalist principles.

The purpose of having stops in UTC and Downtown is to support transit-oriented development in San Diego. In other words, bring the transit conveyances to where people live. And there are no more dense centers of population in San Diego than UTC and Downtown.

The Qualcomm parking lot is a no-mans land, the poster-child for automobile-based, sprawl-oriented development, with only one trolley line to serve as an oil-free, environmentally friendly alternative to get San Diegans in, and visitors out. It also happens to be a parcel of land that is expected to be completely re-worked in the near future - a project which, ironically, Counceilor Frye has opposed on the basis of the additional car-trips it will add to Mission Valley. You think think that's bad? Imagine 48,000 boardings and de-boardings a day in a location with almost no connection to public transit. And the final nail in the coffin: The express lanes CalTrans is currently building down the middle of the I-15 are about to eliminate the only simple corridor for the train to take between northern San Diego and Mission Valley.

A downtown station will allow thousands of visitors to walk to their hotels and meetings. Downtown has the advantage of directly connecting with 2 trolley lines - a number that will grow by the time the high speed train reaches San Diego, with the Green Line and future Mid-Coast segment also connecting at Santa Fe Depot. It is also the hub of San Diego's bus network, with over 20 routes to all corners of the city already passing through downtown.

If Sherri Lightner and Donna Frye really want to protect the environment and get San Diegans and its visitors out of their cars, they will support the downtown station.

Reality Check said...

Robert wrote: "NIMBYism we're seeing on the Peninsula is generated by a desire among those who benefited from the late 20th century model of land use to preserve that model, to oppose anything that might conceivably threaten or change that model ... protecting what they've already got, exactly as it currently is. "

Well, our good NIMBY friend from Menlo Park, Morris "kill HSR" Brown, again exemplifies this perfectly in an anti-height/density letter published in two local newspapers today.

If its any comfort, at least he doesn't rail only against HSR!

Matthew Fedder said...

i guess your backspace key wasn't working.

Oh it works - I just didn't want to silence her voice :)

Robert Cruickshank said...

Apologies, bossyman, didn't mean to nuke your comment.

Rafael said...

@ Robert Cruickshank -

I completely agree that a San Diego station at Qualcomm stadium is essentially useless. If that's what city elders want, CHSRA might as well terminate this phase II spur in the Inland Empire. It's downtown San Diego or bust.

---

To provide a better basis for discussion of how best to get from the I-15 median to the existing SDNR right of way in the I-5 corridor, I've created a MAP of the area, showing what I believe to be the official route and station alternatives in the Miramar/University City area.

Note that significant tunneling under existing buildings would be required near San Diego City College (Miramar Campus). The Carroll Canyon alignment (northern blue line) runs through the Hansen Aggregates quarry. The Miramar Rd. alignment (southern blue line) might well require co-operation from USMC to obtain ROW just south of Antares Dr, the frontage road inside the base perimeter. This alignment runs along the edge of the golf course on the base.

Both of the official alignments shown in BLUE rely on adding tracks next to the existing SDNR line through Rose Canyon a.k.a. NIMBY central. The western part of this Open Space Park appears to be more developed, featuring trails etc.

The alternatives shown in RED avoid the eastern part of it, but at the expense of extensive - and expensive - tunneling under city streets and buildings.

Given that there's an active railroad through/next to Rose Canyon today, the mere fact that such draconian alternatives are even being considered at all is testament to the political clout of environmental NIMBYs in the area.

---

My own route alternatives shown in GREEN are not official. Both follow the I-15 median a little further than official alternatives.

The northern green route runs alongside Johnson Rd. inside the base before crossing the storage area near I-5. For obvious reasons, this could only be considered at all after consultation with USMC. Note that military bases are supposed to permit civilian infrastructure IFF this doesn't interfere with military operations during or after construction. The military rules the roost in San Diego county, but for the sake of leaving no stone unturned, it wouldn't hurt to ask.

The southern green line seeks to leverage the still-available CA-52 median, with only a short tunnel through a mesa to join up with the SDNR line (switch to Terrain mode for details). A section of this option runs through the base, in-between I-15 and CA-163. A station might be possible near either the Genesee Ave or Regents Rd exits, but neither is anywhere near the downtown area. There's also the Marian Baer Natural Memorial Park next to the freeway, so station parking would need to be limited and sited between the freeway and its on/off ramps.

For both of the GREEN routes, someone would need to verify that the vertical elevation profile of this route does not include gradients greater than 3.5%. I've put in a request with the Google Maps team to add a display mode with color-code terrain gradients along user-defined lines, but this feature is not available (yet?)

Robert said...

In any event the future of Qualcomm stadium is unclear. This could be a back door attempt to make the stadium more attractive to the fickle Chargers, who are looking for an excuse to move to LA, as well as an inducement to SDSU, which has run out of room to grow and is angling for a deal to develop part of the stadium's vast, hideous parking lot (just a few trolley stops away from the main campus). Not to mention that the part of the parking lot nearest the I-15 freeway is an environmental superfund site - perhaps building a train line across it would remove the city's obligation to clean it up (at enormous expense) - which they have been avoiding for years?

Note that University City is upper La Jolla, and La Jolla is San Diego's Palo Alto. Of COURSE they are NIMBYs. They are also trying to squash an extension of the trolley line that would follow the same alignment through Rose Canyon, across University City, and then would turn west to serve the UCSD campus.

A University City HSR station would be great - the general area is becoming SD's second downtown in terms of concentration of business activity. Full disclosure: my company just moved from downtown to University City, so now instead of walking to work I drive the 12 miles each way. There is no acceptable public transportation alternative. Several of my coworkers tried to use the current Sorrento Valley Coaster station and the connecting shuttle bus, but gave up in frustration.

But there is also a proposal to build a University City in-fill station (is that the right term?) on the Coaster (commuter rail) line that already runs on the ROW through Rose Canyon. So if HSR bypassed University City but ended up downtown, you might be able to take the Coaster or the Trolley to University City.

Qualcomm Stadium is in Mission Valley which is dense with retail activity and apartments. It is well-served by the trolley and is served by most of SD's major central freeways - I-5, I-8, SR-163, I-805, and I-15. I-15 is one of the most heavily-traveled freeways in the region, connecting downtown SD with Temecula. There is logic in running HSR the entire length of its right of way. The Rose Canyon ROW is largely undeveloped, protected land, and access to it will involve some expensive tunneling. Also the current ROW is one track much of the way, expansion to four tracks, or six if you add the trolley, will be a very tough sell to many constituencies. It might be cheaper, and politically easier, to run the HSR to Qualcomm, but then turn west on the I-8 ROW, then turning south on the last bit of I-5 to a terminus at the airport or Santa Fe depot downtown. As for continuing to Tijuana, that's a great idea, but note that the I-15 joins I-5 just south of downtown so that boils down to the same route regardless of whether you use the I-15 or the Rose Canyon route to get downtown.

Sorry for the stream of consciousness here ...

Robert said...

Rafael, great map. I think the Miramar Road ROW is problematic for the reasons you suggest - the USMC wouldn't like it. It's also a heavily-used thoroughfare so would involve some land taking. Can imagine the path across Miramar MCAB would be acceptable, even if you tunneled, which would be quite expensive.

The I-15/SR-163/SR-52/I-5 alignment makes sense, avoids Rose Canyon, and avoids expensive tunneling. If you were going to put a HSR station along there, it should be at Genesee not Regents Rd. But that's a good mile across hilly terrain on a heavily-used artery to get to University City - University Town Centre Mall is ground zero, followed by Executive Drive just to the north.

They are still working on routing for the trolley extension, perhaps if it followed the SR-52 as far as Genesee and then turned north to follow that road, it would work. I don't think they are discussing 52 as an alternative at this point. It would take to transit agencies coordinating with each other - a farfetched concept, I suppose.

Robert said...

Oops, meant to say CAN'T imagine the path across Miramar MCAB would be acceptable.

Daniel Krause said...

I agree that there is quite a bit of dense development around Qualcomm and the Qualcomm site itself could be developed with high levels of TOD (SDSU is just up the hill as well). It is also very central to the entire SD region, rather than just the coastal area. Therefore, I am in favor of studying the I-15 corridor with a Qualcomm station site on the condition that such an alternative would include the HSR line would turn west along I-8 and connect to the downtown San Diego at the Santa Fe.

Robert said...

One last thought - I note that our grand leaders want the HSR to follow I-805 south. That's a new road and there is no existing railroad ROW so again you are talking some significant land taking. Some of it is elevated so there's no appropriate median to use. I-5 goes along an industrial part of the bay, past shipyards, paralleled by the trolley tracks, which are used by freight trains at night. Less problem with NIMBYs re noise (inland Chula Vista along the 805 includes large tracts of McMansions) and good transit connections. Let it terminate at the border where the 5 and 805 merge and gazillions of people cross into the US by foot each day.

jim said...

acutally, using the freeway row like this might be the better option
after all. These freeways have plenty of adjacent room and goin to downown via the east side will serve a lot more middle class working areas and avoid the coastal hoity toits and their pain in the assiness.

Robert said...

Jim, I'm with you on that. But, the 94 doesn't have much of a median and is sorta sunken in that area. Would involve either some land-taking or an elevated stretch. And, at its terminus at I-5 we have some dense downtown terrain to contend with, and not the "nice" end of downtown, so where would the station be? There are those who have suggested a terminus near Petco Park and the Convention Center, I guess a short tunnel from there to the I-5/SR-94 merge would do it. Then could turn south to follow I-5 to the border.

Will Bunnett said...

OK, so Frye gets the basic geometry right: the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

But what she ignores is the value of the points -- there's no reason to draw a line to a point in the middle of nowhere, no matter how straight you can get it.

Just draw whatever line it will take to get the train into downtown already.

Matthew Fedder said...

Don't forget that the trolley route is pretty much set in stone at this point, except for the question of which route to take between east campus UCSD and UTC. If that doesn't meet up with the HSR, it will be a great loss to the University.

@Rafael:

Let's not go nuts. Maybe they would have to terminate it at Escondido. I bet Frye would love for THAT to be her legacy!

I'm curious where you got drawings this detailed. I haven't seen anything like this on the site - or maybe I've just been looking at the wrong files?

The main difference between the current railroad and the HSR through Rose Canyon is that the HSR would likely have fences or other barriers, which would render it impassable in a north-south direction to the hundreds of people that walk through the canyon daily.

I just cannot imagine a stop at Genesee or Regents on the 52. There is almost no connection to other transit, and both are surrounded by low-density suburban enclaves. I can guarantee CAHRS would not be allowed to touch one inch of Marian Bear.

Your routes up the 5 would need a lot longer of tunneling - it's another segment that's too steep (which is why the existing train route takes its circuitous route around the mesa). Your "potential station" happens to be almost exactly on the location of the planned station for the Mid-Coast Corredor ("University Center Ln" just on the east side of the freeway is the official location), which would be good. There is decent local transit in that area, and tons of dense housing within walking distance. It would be hard, but possible, to route all the busses that connect to UTC down Nobel to the station, but the neighborhood might consider it redundant to have two such major transit areas. Apart from that, though, the more I think about it, the more I like it.

I could imagine it running along the 56, winding though it is.

@Robert:

La Jolla itself would definitely be NIMBY Central, but UTC is mostly students. University City doesn't have a strong La Jolla connection (no two points in San Diego have a higher ratio of physical distance and travel-distance than Mt Soledad and the west end of Governor Drive), but they're their own class of NIMBYs - anything that touches the canyon is heresy. (I haven't heard of any opposition to the trolley, as long as it follows the 5 to UCSD, which is its planned path).

Have you tried taking the 150? I took it from UTC to downtown for jury duty, it worked well.

Not all of Rose Canyon is created equal. The part that would need to be 5- or 6-tracked (because of the trolley) is right along the 5, and that shouldn't be any big deal.

@Daneil Krause

Part of the problem with a Qualcomm stop is that it leaves no way to get downtown. Mission Valley is packed with housing and strongly-protected river space - look at the serpentine route the trolley had to take through the area! That wouldn't work for the HSR. The freeways south out of Mission Valley are too steep, and it's too far to tunnel. No, Qualcomm is a dead end. No exit.

Rafael said...

@ Robert -

yeah, I figured USMC wouldn't be all that receptive but I don't see the harm in talking to them. Who knows, stranger things have happened.

I've added a couple of additional alternatives for cutting across well north of Miramar (MAP).

The other strategy would be to switch from the I-15 median to the CA-163 corridor and sticking with that through Balboa Park to reach an underground station in the 10th/Broadway/11th/Market area. The tracks could be under 10th and 11th, respectively, to avoid acquiring/taking more land than absolutely necessary.

I seriously doubt that would even be feasible, though: CA-163 doesn't have an available median everywhere and it has some kicking curves. Plus, the issue of the stabling yard would be even trickier than for a station at Santa Fe Depot.

Matthew Fedder said...

@Jim: The 15 runs at about a 6% grade north from Mission valley into the Kensington area.

jim said...

If SD is anything like SF, you'll never get a train through balboa park.

I think the inland working class route is better. Im sick to death of the wealthy people opposing everything. The inland people will be the ones who will benefit most from the train.

jim said...

Id put the stations in the areas where the uppity folks are afraid to go.

Matthew Fedder said...

@Rafael, Robert: Miramar MCAS's famous opposition to building an airport on its land was not nearly so much due to loss of land as to loss of airspace - which fortunately the HSR does not impede.

Matthew Fedder said...

@Jim: A Balboa Park route might be supported if it wiped out the areas that are infamous for late-night random sex hookups. ;)

Rafael said...

@ Matthew Fedder -

as I said, it's hard for me to gauge the gradients using just Google Maps and ye olde mk1 eyeball. The I-5 section through the UCSD campus is definitely steeper than the SDNR line through Rose Canyon. Then again, HSR can handle 3.5% vs. the 1% or so that freight trains can manage.

The CA-56 variant is a bit tricky near the intersection with I-5 because the median all but disappears. That said, it may be necessary to tunnel anyhow, on account of Torrey Pines State Park and to cross the SDNR track(s).

Separately, it may be impossible to secure a sufficiently large curve radius at the I-15/CA-56 interchange above ground. However, my biggest beef with the CA-56 alternative is the many curves. It would be tricky to maintain high speeds, even with aggressive track cant.

Matthew Fedder said...

@Raphael: I know it's durn near impossible to eyeball - it just happens to be a segment I drive to work every day, so I thought I'd mention that :)

Gmap-Pedometer can give you a hill profile, but it's still hard to estimate the percent grade. I don't know of anyone that does a gradient profile :)

Matthew Fedder said...

For example: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=3315522

(Set it to draw route - manually, and remember to set the zoom and center to whatever you want others to see before you click Save!)

Rafael said...

@ Matthew Fodder -

"@Jim: A Balboa Park route might be supported if it wiped out the areas that are infamous for late-night random sex hookups. ;)"

San Diegans do it in the 163 freeway median?!? Or is that just the tourists who want to try out their high visibility safety vests?

Matthew Fedder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Fedder said...

The park areas west of the 163 are actually the infamous areas. Don't you feel better knowing?

Rafael said...

@ Matthew Fedder -

thanks for the link to the Pedometer. Nice tool, even if you still have to compute the gradients manually.

I switched to metric, 3.5% translates to 35m elevation gain/loss per 1000m run length. Looks like some sections are close to that at the km scale, steeper at shorter scales. That's where tunnels/trenches/aerials come in to smooth things out a bit.

As a first very rough pass, I'd say the I-5 section through the UCSD campus might well be feasible for lightweight HSR, though not for legacy FRA-compliant equipment.

Robert said...

@Matthew - thanks for mentioning that. I forgot to mention that getting up the hill from Qualcomm south on the 15 is pretty durn steep. And maybe you're right about Mission Valley - the 8 doesn't have much of a median. (Maybe we could tear down some of those defunct car lots! And the Union Trib is going to go belly up, there's part of your right of way!)

Check slide 9 of this presentation on the SANDAG website - they're considering an alternative trolley alignment that would head inland from the 5, go through UTC and then terminate at UCSD. I like it better, actually.

http://www.sandag.org/uploads/meetingid/meetingid_2432_10047.pdf

Good point on the USMC's opposition to the airport - I would like to see it there but I couldn't see shared airspace any more than the USMC could. It's one use or the other. Sandy Ego missed its opportunity when the Navy left a few years ago. They twisted arms to get the Marines to take it! They had El Toro at the time and didn't even want Miramar. But as for land-taking - optimal expansion of Lindbergh Field would involve taking a couple hundred square yards of MCRD and the USMC said Semper NO WAY. From a security standpoint it's hard to imagine them allowing a train route down the middle of Miramar. Miramar Road makes more sense if a ROW could be obtained. Then in back of LJV Drive - maybe Eastgate Mall Road to Genesee to a UCSD stop before turning south on the 5? Now we're talking!

@Rafael - You're right on the 163 - it's steep, it's narrow, it curves, and it would be heresy to run a train down that canyon from the 8 to downtown. Even I would be against that. Build the HSR in Rose Canyon but not in Balboa Park!

I do like your SR-56 alignment, puts a station right between UCSD and University City. I suspect you would have the same problem with the Penasquitos Canyon alighment as you get with Rose Canyon.

@Both of youse - you are referring to the infamous "fruit loop," best known for its Mexican boy prostitutes. HSR down the 163 wouldn't affect it, but the SD police and park closure at night have it pretty well under control. (I used to park there if I was in a hurry and didn't have time to walk all the way to work downtown.) Kind of a weird red herring for Jim to throw in ...

Matthew Fedder said...

@Robert:

Nice - that must have been posted more recently than the last time I went looking for documents. I wonder if they're trying to collaborate with HSR on planning? It would be very nice for the university and businesses if the HSR meets up directly with a trolley stop in UTC.

MCRD is a different matter completely from Miramar - it's a very small space, all of which is being used. I can sympathize with them refusing to give any of that up.

Matthew Fedder said...

@Myself: If all three of the projects - the trolley, the Coaster, and the HSR - collaborated on a tunnel under UTC, I would imagine that would be a great way to share a large cost, at the same time creating a very important transit location. (Forget about the Rose Canyon nimby's.... Stopping a neighborhood bridge is one thing, but stopping a vital link to the rest of the state is beyond their power).

Rafael said...

@ Robert -

let's not forget the real reason the Marines are still at Miramar: UC & La Jolla didn't want to be in the flight path of a busy commercial airport.

With HSR, the nearest relief airport for Lindbergh Field will be Ontario.

Daddio said...

Hey, say what you want about your routes, but the Rose Canyon "alignment" has been designated Rose Canyon Open Space Park for years. Your "56 alternative" is through Marian Bear Open Space Park.

Put your purple and green lines where you want. Its a free country and lets all hope that land and public interest debates are resolved through democratic processes.

But have the courage and integrity to correctly identify impacted spaces for what they are.

Rafael said...

@ Matthew Fedder -

"If all three of the projects - the trolley, the Coaster, and the HSR - collaborated on a tunnel under UTC [...]"

HSR = electric
SD Trolley = electric
NCTD Coaster = FRA-compliant diesel, max gradient ~2%

Ergo, HSR and SD Trolley could both go underground, but they could not share track. As folks in Palo Alto will soon find out, the per-mile price tag for a four-track tunnel is fairly astronomical.

NCTD Coaster will be running through Rose Canyon forever, because beachfront NIMBYs in Del Mar to Oceanside won't allow overhead catenaries. That was one of the reasons for choosing the Inland Empire route to begin with.

Robert said...

@Rafael - you are right about the flight path. Funny about airport noise, I live about a mile north of the Lindbergh approach and I hear almost nothing. But I guess any Miramar flight path is going to take you over LJ or Del Mar and that is indeed a nonstarter. Forgot about that element. My apologies to the USMC.

@Matthes - of course you're right about land use at MCRD vs Miramar.

What I like about this alternative MidCoast trolley alignment is it terminates at UCSD so could possibly extend north to Sorrento Valley at some point, though probably north of UCSD the Coaster will always be preferred. I love your point about a tunnel - straightening out that Amtrak/Coaster alignment would be pretty wonderful and I have to think UCSD would love it too.

Matthew Fedder said...

Hi Daddio,

"Rose Canyon Open Space Preserve" has been designated a railroad right-of-way for about 130 years, and has been an active railroad that entire time. Keep that in mind.

Rafael said...

@ Daddio -

My whole point in drawing the map was to illustrate that CHSRA is already looking at ways to avoid further impacts on Rose Canyon. The black line on my map refers to the existing, active SDNR rail line through the Open Space Park (which I did reference just that way).

The CA-56 alternative is well north of Miramar, nowhere near Marian Baer.

The CA-52 alternative leverages the available median of the existing freeway through Marian Baer. As I state above, the curve across to the SDNR right of way would be in a tunnel through a mesa.

Robert said...

Note - Donna Frye doesn't represent my neighborhood but I'll shoot a letter off to her, and one to Hueso too (as City Council Prez he's supposed to care what I think). Christine Kehoe is my rep, she'll get a letter, but I suspect letters from her constituents in La Jolla and Del Mar would carry more weight.

Matthew Fedder said...

@Rafael:

Is a 3-deep/2-wide tunnel easier than a 6-wide, 1-deep tunnel?

I was imagining if they were stacked: Trolley on top (but still underground), HSR beneath that, Coaster beneath that. The Coaster would be far enough down that it wouldn't have to climb nearly as much.

Daddio said...

Matthew,
I invite you to visit Marian Bear and Rose Canyon Parks to experience the public usage and species diversity. Yes, parks do coexist in San Diego with long-existing rail ROW. But as you well know, rail is not the same as HSR in terms of design and security tolerances and impact, noise, speed and frequency. Central Park has streets and subways in it, but imagine New York if a surface interstate or HSR had been added parallel to Park Drive.

Raphael,
Excuse me, I meant to type that Marian Bear Park runs along the 52, not the 56.

The point is that these are designated open space parks and wildlife preserves for San Diego, which does not have enough of them. This needs to be formally acknowledged as a social cost factor in any decision made. It has not been, and it will not be until they are referred to as such, and the blog entry above is a clear example.

Come visit. If you find the loss of parkland and species diversity to be acceptable collateral damage for a higher good, acknowledge it and make a strong case. Many San Diegans may differ. Homes and business can be bought or condemned and replaced, but open space can not be recreated.

Matthew Fedder said...

Hi Daddio,

I live in San Diego (in case you hadn't figured that out yet from my other posts), and I've spent time in both parks. I've ridden along the Rose Canyon bike path probably hundreds of times. I have biked across the canyon land where Regents Road Bridge should have been dozens of times.

I don't believe the high speed train will be detrimental, except to those already trespassing on the tracks (and yes, you are in fact trespassing when you cross the tracks down in the canyon).

If Marion Bair can remain a beautiful place to visit despite having 4 lanes of freeway traffic whizzing by (and it must be, if you still so vigilantly protect it), Rose Canyon will still be beautiful after the high speed train is added alongside the other tracks.

Matthew Fedder said...

(I shouldn't phrase that as a conditional: Marion Bair IS still a beautiful place to visit, despite the freeway - and the impact of a new train running down its median would be negligible).

By the way, in case you're not aware, the train would run probably no faster than 100-120MPH through San Diego, including its canyonlands - meaning it won't be any louder than the Coaster or Amtrak are now.

Rafael said...

@ Matthew Fedder -

"Is a 3-deep/2-wide tunnel easier than a 6-wide, 1-deep tunnel?"

Stacking is generally more difficult to construct than side-by-side. It can be done, cp. Market Street in SF where SF Muni subway streetcars run a level above BART because there wasn't enough width for four tracks plus station platforms side-by-side.

"The Coaster would be far enough down that it wouldn't have to climb nearly as much."

Does not compute for your 3x2 concept. The upper levels would be yoked to the maximum gradient of the lowest one.

For FRA-compliant trains, you'd anyhow want a base tunnel instead, since that minimizes the amount of excavation. Five miles of tunneling isn't cheap, though. I doubt Amtrak, Coaster and BNSF combined generate sufficient traffic to justify the investment.

A base tunnel needs a lot of forced ventilation, especially in the event of a fire. Absent electrification, an underground Amtrak/Coaster station would be ill-advised. I'll allow that the elevator ride to the surface would be wicked, though (cp Schlossberglift in Graz, Austria).

Anonymous said...

No Robert its not about protecting a 'model'. Its about protecting something very real, which is neighborhoods, schools, homes and businesses that real people live in. You and your buddies at CHSRA continue to make that precise mistake repeatedly - in thinking about this at the 'model' level (and at the Google Earth level.) Until you get real, as in on the ground impacts, you'll continue to minimize this into a childish name-calling game. There are real things at stake here for real people which you continually fail to comprehend or are intentionally obtuse about because they are inconvenient to your single minded purpose. Perhaps the problem is that train enthusiasts grew up building 'models' on big plywood tables, adding as much realism as a tiny plastic city or countryside could muster - and they now mistake the whole of California as one big 'model' for their playtime amusement.

Matthew Fedder said...

Anonymous@3:14PM: I am one of those "real people". I have lived and/or worked in University City for 10 years. When I view these plans, I think of them in terms of myself: How am I going to get to work? How am I going to meet up with friends? How am I going to catch the train?

If you were really thinking in terms of neighborhoods, schools, or businesses, then you would see the benefits these plans will bring to all of them.

To somehow imagine that running this train down Rose Canyon is going to "destroy" the "neighborhood" is beyond ludicrous. It is a ridiculous fantasy to reinforce some fiction about how special the neighborhood is. The sole purpose of the existence of the "Friends of Rose Canyon" is to make it harder to live in the University City & UTC areas - harder to get to school, harder to buy your groceries, harder to get places to visit your family - by protecting that fantasy.

Daddio said...

Matthew,
Well, now you are at least making an argument that acknowledges that these are parklands. This is something the OP and the HSR do not do.
I do not know what these parks were like before conventional rail or the 52 were built. Nor before the I5. Nor before the first cabin built by Mr. Rose, for that matter. These are already facts on the ground that cannot be UNdone - should we pave the parks then? As you say, no. That is the point.
The effects of overdevelopment are cumulative and irreversible - the classic frog being boiled gradually. I am glad that you admit that there is some value to these lands, and thus some cost to additional construction on them. I differ with your faith that an HSR alignment's additional impact would be "negligible". Whether you are a rabbit or a hawk or a guy in a condo 100 feet away, 120 mph is fast, 134 trains per day is a lot, a 12 foot fence is high, and a 50 foot track cross section and wider ROW is wide.
This piece of the alignment carries high social cost, low practical benefit, and better alternatives exist.

Observer said...

What, NIMBY's in San Diego? You mean its not all about the rotten apples on the Peninsula? Those San Diegoans spreading misinformation? Boy the PR Gestapo is going to have their hands full squashing 'misinformati on' across the ENTIRE length of the state. You have to wonder how just this tiny little handful of troublemakers that oppose HSR (while of course the masses of California wildly support it), can make such a stink at all points HSR. My god, its like they're everywhere!

Rafael said...

@ Matthew Fedder, Daddio -

I don't live in San Diego but I have visited. It's a beautiful city, as are many of its northern suburbs. I'm well aware of how little open space is left.

That said, like it or not, Rose Canyon already has a railroad running through it. If possible, HSR should probably be routed to avoid it, because full grade separation against pedestrians would probably mean fences and occasional underpasses (for wildlife as well as pedestrians and cyclists). Some species would adapt to the increased rail traffic volume, others would retreat.

Note that the SDNR line would need to be included in any grade separation works in Rose Canyon. If hikers are trespassing today, the situation just isn't safe.

It would be possible to completely cover the tracks and overhead catenaries with an above-ground box tunnel and, to cover that with soil to create broad embankments to either side. If it's done well, nature would fairly quickly populate that with new vegetation, reducing the overall impact to modified topography and possibly, hydrology.

Still, if a reasonable alternative to Rose Canyon can be found, I'd rather CHSRA implement that. CA-52 is hardly the ugliest freeway in the world, but it is still a freeway. Putting train tracks in the median wouldn't add much in the way of blight, as long as the connector to the SDNR right of way doesn't bisect Marian Bear (i.e. the tracks should dive under the eastbound lanes if possible).

AndyDuncan said...

"My god, its like they're everywhere!"

Yup. So much for the peninsula NIMBY argument to put the line over altamont and up the east bay to avoid all those NIMBY's, huh? And I thought the peninsula was special...

Matthew Fedder said...

@Observer:

If we required unanimous consent to do anything in this state, we could never so much as put a footstep on California's soil.

We've constitutionally decided that apart from a core set of individual freedoms, what a majority wants, goes.

So if some pipsqueak group wants to override the will of the majority of voters in California, why should we care what they think? Why should every tiny splinter have that kind of veto power over the entire state?

We the citizens of California have spoken unambiguously: Build the train.

Matthew Fedder said...

@Daddio:

I don't know where you get 134 trains per day. Union Station in Los Angeles is planned to have 84 trains per day, when the system is fully built out. We'd probably get half that many - 42 per day - heading down to San Diego.

Rafael said...

@ Matthew Fedder -

According to supporting document 5 (p14 PDF) of CHSRA's 2008 Business Plan, the current plan is to run 46 trains (7-8 HSR trains per hour) each way in and out of San Diego during six-hour peak periods by 2030 or so. On average, that translates to one noise event every 4 minutes.

Over the course of a full day, CHSRA (optimistically) anticipates sufficient ridership to justify roughly 100 trains each way in and out of San Diego by that year. I'd take that with a large grain of salt, any operator will arbitrate between train frequency and seat capacity per train in an effort to maximize yield.

Robert said...

@Matthew - I think Daddio is right. The CAHSR site says San Diego would have 67 trains a day. Presumably that means 67 departures, and those trains have to arrive too, so that is 134 trains going by, per day. Presumably most trains would travel between 6am and midnight - haven't seen a timetable. So that's 18 hours. That's 7.5 trains per hour, though of course you could imagine that at some peak times it would be more than that, which could work out to a train every 5 minutes - and that is a lot. But as for the impact on Marion Bear, that 52 freeway is already pretty darn noisy, to the extent that I don't think a train going by would make much difference. There wouldn't be train whistles because there won't be any grade crossings, so it's just a whoosh - certainly no worse than all the trucks on that very heavily used freeway. Of course I 1) am very much in favor of HSR (even though it won't be in SD until I am retired!), and 2) I don't use Marion Bear Park. I am with Rafael, I think the 52 is the solution. We'll just need a trolley line that goes all the way down Genesee to connect to it.

Anonymous said...

No AndyDuncan, rather its that CHSR is a universally bad idea wherever it goes.

Robert said...

@Anonymous 4:28 pm - Are freeways a bad idea wherever they go? Airports wherever they are built?

I was waiting for a plane in DC last year, the guy standing next to me said he was sick of lines in airports. Somehow that took us to me being excited about CHSR, and he said he was against the use of public funds to build rail. I told him that the airport was built with public funds, so were the highways and subway lines that got him to the airport. Was he against those uses of funds? Nope, he said, just rail. I don't get it, and he couldn't explain.

Daddio said...

42 runs a day? One business plan said 134 per day. The most recent statement by an HSR rep himself was "probably fewer than 134, but over 100". Thank you Raphael for supporting that figure.

And why not? If the social and economic costs of building HSR are to be outweighed by its public benefit, it had BETTER run 100 trains per day, as air and interstate travel become untenable. Otherwise you are talking about a vanity project with a boutique ridership.

"Pipsqueaks" Matthew? "why should we care what they think?" And I thought we were talking here.

A majority voted for 1a, but it did not vote for any specific stations, or route alignments. The HSRA charter includes language respecting local governments and interests. Including parks.

Your penchant for eminent domain and state override of local government is showing, and it is not pretty. There are other words that could be applied. But I was taught that name calling is a sign of having no argument.

Matthew Fedder said...

I guarantee you're not getting a trolley to 52/Genesse, UTC, and UCSD without a heck of a lot of tunneling. Those are not hills a trolley can climb. I just don't see it as plausible.

Rafael said...

@ Robert -

if the CA-52 alternative were chosen, would an intermodal station at Balboa Ave. make sense?

That's where the SANDAG presentation of the Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project you referenced before has a planned stop for the new trolley line, which will be fully grade separated in the I-5 stetch and therefore fast.

That said, Balboa is already halfway from UCSD to the Santa Fe Depot. Backtracking is never ideal.

Rafael said...

@ Matthew Fedder -

LRT systems can be real mountain goats, handling gradients of up to 12% (5 Feb 2006 entry) even in winter conditions.

The Pöstlingbergbahn in Linz, Austria was a pioneering effort in that regard, an adhesion-based electric trolley system with a maximum gradient of 11.6%. It opened in 1898.

Daddio said...

Succesful mass transit systems I know of always have express routes with limited stops connect easily to local feeders. The idea of HSR stopping in more than two locations in San Diego County is dubious.

By statute law, the HS train must get from LA to SD in 1:20.
Stations are already proposed for San Bernardino, Riverside, March AFB, Elko/Corona, Murrieta/Temecula, Escondido, UTC, "Destination Lindbergh", and Downtown. Each with backers salivating over contracts, land interests and big bucks development plan.


Figure 5 minutes lost per stop and do the math. Then consider reduced speeds run through urban areas, grade changes, and sharp curves. Like legacy curves from following crowded existing conventional ROW build in the 19th century for steam speeds.


Cant half of this stuff happen in 1:20.

Rafael said...

@ Daddio -

at a high level at least, both the route and the station locations were in fact settled prior to the Nov 2008 election after a decade-long statewide program-level planning process. The only exceptions were - and still are - the exact location of the mid-peninsula station between SJ and SF and whether or not there should be a station in the Hanford/Visalia/Tulare area.

Prop 1A(2008) enacted AB3034(2008). That bill does not spell any implementation choices beyond the definition of "corridor" representing useful segments of the planned network. However, the bill explictly yields to CHSRA the authority to make these choices.

The basic concept of running tracks from LA Union Station to Ontario Airport to downtown San Diego via Miramar and University City was advertised in CHSRA literature and on its web site at the time. People had a fair idea of what they were voting for or at least, they should have had.

What's left to decide now at the project level are local alternatives for precisely where the tracks should run and precisely where the station(s) should be. The flexibility is not equal everywhere, as the acquisition of suitable right of way, including competition from other road/transit projects, inevitably looms just as large in these decisions as environmental impacts.

That's why CHSRA is adamant about using the Caltrain ROW in the SF peninsula but still looking at multiple options in the Miramar/University City area. LA-SD will also get built a little later, so there's more time to figure out the locally preferred alternative.

Alon Levy said...

Daddio, AB3034 states that trains must be capable of running from LA to SD in 1:20. As long as every station on the way has bypass tracks for nonstop trains, which they all will, the conditions will be met.

timote said...

Daddio -

I could be wrong, but I don't think any required times include dwell times, so remove all those stations from the calc. What actually happens in operations (what stops occur for each train) is a different matter entirely.

Rafael said...

@ Daddio -

not every train is going to stop in every station between LA and San Diego. The 1h18m time is for non-stop express trains between those two points.

Thanks to level entry, dwell times at secondary HSR stations will be no more than 2 minutes. In Japan, it's down to as little as 50 seconds. This isn't Amtrak, trains will arrive and leave on time. Conductors will not hold trains for passengers arriving at the platform late.

Acceleration to and deceleration from speeds in the 100-125mph range doesn't take all that long. Figure a total of 3-3.5 minutes added to the line haul time for every stop.

150mph will probably only be feasible in a relatively short, straight section of I-215 and I-15. The managed lanes project between Escondido and Miramar means CHSRA will not be able to lay tracks in the formerly extra-wide median in that stretch. We'll have to wait and see what they come up with instead.

However, you are correct that express service will be harder to implement in the LA-SD segment than elsewhere, because it relies more heavily on freeway medians. In those, bypass tracks are only possible if there's a lot of width or else, if tracks can be stacked 2x2. So far, CHSRA hasn't published any documents suggesting that they intend to build any station located in a freeway median with track stacking.

Michael said...

Letter to my council rep Sheri Lightner I wrote this morning after reading the article:

Hello,

I'm a college student from your district studying transportation infrastructure, and I recently ran across an article in which you proposed that the high-speed rail route follow I-15 all the way to Qualcomm and the Tijuana Airport. While I applaud the environmental thinking behind this decision, I do not think it is an appropriate solution for a number of reasons. First, the primary benefit of high-speed rail is to link city center to city center, and by bypassing San Diego's airport and Santa Fe Depot, many of the environmental benefits of the system as well as significant transit oriented redevelopment potentials are bypassed. I actually believe that there may be a legal requirement to link downtown San Diego to the system in the text of Prop 1A because doing such actually is that important to the project. Second, UTC is a major employment and residential center, I believe the second highest density region in San Diego besides downtown, and has some of the best existing transit services outside of downtown. As such, it should have a station and to bypass it for an inland opportunity makes accessing the high-speed rail system much less convenient for the hundreds of thousands of residents along the coast of San Diego, especially within your district. Third, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but they have the alignment following existing railroad tracks through the Rose Canyon Open Space. By expanding that right of way a bit, they are creating significantly less impacts than by creating a brand new one, and this probably is the most environmentally sensitive option they could choose. Do understand that they are years away from an EIR/EIS and that there are many mitigation measures that could be taken to lessen the impact that I'm sure will be studied. Also, by law (Section 4f), transportation projects must avoid parkland unless there are no other feasible alternatives, so I would expect minimal impacts on the canyon.

Robert said...

@Rafael - sorry for my ignorance of the lingo. By "intermodal station" are you saying terminus, or interim station? Either way, although Balboa is a major thoroughfare, with access to Clairemont Mesa and Pacific Beach, I don't really see it as a sensible spot for an HSR station. As our level-headed doubter Daddio points out we shouldn't/can't have too many local stops. If you are going to stop short of downtown, terminate at the Old Town Transit Center, where you already have bus lines, convergence of trolley lines, Coaster, and Amtrak. I'd much rather see it go all the way to the airport if not downtown, but if it had to terminate sooner, Old Town makes more sense than Balboa. For that matter, if you are adding an HSR stop on the way to downtown, Old Town makes more sense than Balboa.

Also if our local knuckleheads had their way and sent the train all the way down the 15, if we could get it to go west on the 8, it would have to turn south on the 5 at Old Town. This is probably not a workable route - right of way is tough on the 8, if you get close to the river you have wetlands encroachment to be concerned with, and you are looking at two sharp turns, particularly from the 8 to the 5. I'm all about your 15 to 163 to 52 to 5 solution. It doesn't get us a station in University City but it would be more palatable to the NIMBYs, and I for one would take a trolley from the 52 up to La Jolla Village Drive. (As soon as they build that durn trolley I'll take it daily, but it's scheduled to be finished around the time my company's lease expires up here.)

Rafael said...

@ Robert -

Strictly speaking, an intermodal station is one served by multiple distinct transit technologies, e.g. heavy rail, light rail and bus. It's a specific instance of the more general class of transfer stations.

If the CA-52 alternative were to be officially studied and ultimately chosen, I figured a HSR station that's intermodal with the new trolley line up I-5 might be more useful than one in the CA-52 freeway median a little further north.

Whatever the locally preferred alignment, there will be at most one HSR stop between Escondido and San Diego.

Robert said...

@Rafael - OK I gotcha - you were asking if a Balboa station would be an acceptable spot for the intermodal station that could serve University City and UCSD. Answer - no, I really don't think so. Much better to get SANDAG to look at routing up the 52 as far as Genesee. Good thing you included your note about trolleys and hills because Genesee goes up and down the sides of two canyons on its way to Univeristy City.

On the other hand if your SR-56 alignment worked, or some other permutation north of Miramar MCAB, you could link with the trolley and possibly the Coaster at a UTC station or on the UCSD campus (which is vast and straddles I-5).

Anonymous said...

I propose the Chinese method of dealing with HSR NIMBYs: STFU and move because we're gonna tear your houses down at the end of the month! If you refuse, you will be sent to prison as anti-revolutionary traitors who are selfishly putting yourself over millions of others that can benefit from this project.

No talks, no protesting, not even a notice that there's a HSR project. It's as simple as the planners drawing a red line on a map and constructing it immediately without disregard to the homes and businesses, or even nature in the way.

The result? It keeps costs down to minimum and it gets HSR built REALLY fast. That's their secret in going from draft to full implementation in five years.

Heck that was also the reason why we were able to build the transcontinental railroad back in the 1850s in less than five years! Steal the Native Americans' lands, use cheap labor from Ireland and China, disregard all environmental and safety concerns, and walla!! It was done in record time, and that was more than a century and a half ago!!


Dealing with NIMBYs is a joke to begin with - don't deal with them. Enough talk and studies. Just build the darn thing and get moving already! Otherwise, we're gonna keep on spending wasteful money before even a single track is laid to ground!!

Brandon in San Diego said...

San Diego has NIMBY's too! And, Donna Frye is one.

She once said she would be happy to never see another tower built in downtown every again. Or something like that.

That was 8 or so years ago.

I'm gratified to see a union here... folks support a downtown station location.

How it gets there.... I am less concerned about.... so long as curves are minimized and top design speed is maximized (note, I did not write operating speed).

I think CHSRA has pretty much nailed the alignment choices - tho glad to hear they are open minded. The trickiest parts I think include:

- the I-15 alignment from the R/SD border to Mira Mesa.

- whether HSR will serve the relatively new Escondido transit center or remain along I-15.

- the rail corridor from Rose Canyon into downtown, which would be very crowded with Coaster/Amtrak/Freight, the Trolley extension, and HSR.... each require their own ROW.

- Below grade or above grade from I-8/SD River to Santa Fe Depot.
and

- derailing the airport station site idea.

Again, I am glad to hear CHSRA is open-minded. I hope they are still open minded concerning a looksee of a re-aligned route from Temecula/Murrieta to Irvine.... and possible eliminating the segment between Temecula/Murrieta and Riverside. Riverside switches with Irvine for terminal conditions and 'just maybe' Riverside trackage is poised to be extended to either Las Vegas or Phoenix. Actually, that may ease a possible bottleneck with 2 lines operating instead of 2.


I'll write more later... dinner is calling.

Daddio said...

Hmmmm. Emulate dictatorship, kleptocracy and genocide for our own good.

Mussolini made some trains run on time too. How did that work out for everybody?

Peter said...

Well, actually, Mussolini claimed the trains ran on time. They didn't. Same as the Autobahn wasn't invented by Hitler, no matter how much he claimed it.

Brandon in San Diego said...

^^^ I meant 2 lines operating instead of 3.

I realize CHSRA's mission is their network, as we know it; however, other regions are forwarding ideas of their own with ties to the Los Angeles region. They include Phoenix and Las Vegas ties to LA, respectively.

Each of those lines could theoritically tie into the CHSRA network in or around Riverside; especially the Phoenix connection. If services branched off to Irvine, San Diego, AND Phoenix... there could be quite a bottleneck where those 3 lines came together and proceeded to LA Union Station.... Redondo Junction and north.

If the San Diego branch was really an extension of hte Anaheim/Irvine branch, AND Riverside services were co-scheduled with trains from Phoenix... we'd only have 2 lines coming together in Redondo Junction.

Thank you for letting me forward that idea.

Anonymous said...

Bzzzt.

You guys who are against linking to the airport have no idea what you guys are talking about. Direct city to city is a great idea, but it's an even additionally and equally a great idea to create a mode of direct air-to-rail transfer station for ease of connectivity and travel.

France and Germany experimented with this with great results. You wanna know why?

Because it reduces the need to fly those stupid dinky little commuter jets for connecting passengers!


Never thought of that eh?


A guy living in Stuttgart can take the ICE train all the way to Frankfurt Airport station and fly out to New York. A person living in LA can fly to Paris and take the TGV train out of Charles de Gaulle Airport station make her way to Rennes. No need for waiting for two hours for the connecting commuter shuttle!!

In fact, this mode of direct-air-to-rail transfer has been so successful, countries like France, Germany and Spain are getting rid of commuter flights. The less money used for buying and maintaining these jets, the more capital these carriers have to inject into better service for the premium products.

If you think about it, you all know that our airlines sucks right? One of the reasons why is because all of the big name airlines are burdened with flying these stupid commuter jets to fly into their airports so passengers can connect them to long haul destinations. No one pays $400 to fly LA to SD (that's the average cost if you look it up on travel sites). The reason why these airlines fly LA to SD is to transfer people living in San Diego to LAX so they can catch their flight to Boston or Tokyo. These commuter jets never make any money, but they continue to fly them. These planes cost money, maintenance, and jet fuel. And big name carriers flies a lot of these dinky little planes all across the nation. Just look at Seattle-Portland, Washington Dulles to La Guardia, Chicago to Madison, and Dallas to San Antonio. Friggin' waste. You'd think all the money spent on flying these crappy little planes, they have enough money to provide better service to you? No!

OTOH, let's look at the other side of the spectrum. You all know that international carriers provide better service right? Air France, Lufthanse, Japan Airlines, British Airways....hey aren't these the countries that have heavily invested in HSR too?? Shocker!!!

The answer is simple: the countries that have poured money into HSR have also the benefit of their own carriers in reducing the number of domestic and commuter flights, leaving those burdens to the trains. The trains are also able to carry passengers directly to their airports which then passengers can make a seamless and efficient connection to their airlines.

A person living in Escondido can take the HSR to Lindbergh Field and catch the flight to Honolulu. A person from Dallas can fly into Lindbergh and take the train to Murrieta. It makes life much more simple than going across town to catch the train or renting a car or wasting two hours at the airport for the next connecting flight on some small dinky little plane.

Plus, you can also add the benefit of reducing the number of flights, greenhouse gases and jet fuel used to fly those dinky little tin cans.


There. That's the reason why we should have direct airport-to-rail connecting stations!!! Start thinking outside the box you turds!!

Building a direct air-to-rail transfer is an essential key to the benefit of transporting passengers to where they want to go. Airports are one of the places people want to go too!!

Transporation works best if they also have the added benefit of transfering to another mode of transportation easily. You want to have another mess like the trolley system which doesn't go anywhere near the airport!? Huh!?

David Archbold said...

I would suggest the station at Mira Mesa Blvd, not UTC. UTC is served by Coaster at the Sorrento Valley Station - service is existing, not absent as in the case of Mira Mesa. MM would allow the I-15 to Downtown alignment through a straight track and make a loop of rail service in San Diego. Qualcomm Stadium already is connected by trolley so no point in connecting, again.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Back to San Diego....

It remains to be seen if the idea championed by Frye will get some traction. I do not think it will.

Neither will Friends of Rose Canyon fighting an alignment there.... b/c afterall.. as Rafael said, it's already a rail corridor. And, any hikers crossing tracks are already trespassing.

Fedderr was right about that group... they are there to primarily protect the neighborhhod south of UTC area. They recently were fighting a new bridge over the canyon to provide improved access to UTC and reduce congestion. The bridge has been in plans for many years already.

Whatever.... they do have the right to speak out on such matters. But to me.. if it's in a plan it's in a plan... either offer up an improved solution or try and be productive in some other manner.

Those in SD, I believe, do not give 'Friends of Rose Canyon' much political muscle.... so, my forecast right now is that they do not have the power to stop an alignment there if it were seriously considered.

Joey said...

@Anon

Why on earth would anyone living in Dallas want to go to Murrieta? Granted, there will be a small few, but it's nearly negligible. I can see the case for airport access, but in this case, it just doesn't really make sense, especially when downtown is so much more attractive. Those who really need it can fly from Ontario, or else just transfer to the COASTER at University City, assuming the station is intermodal, which it better be...

Brandon in San Diego said...

Anon at 8:23p

Where have you been. Rail to airport connectivity has long been discussed.

The point I have been making prior to your arrival is that there is little to zero synergy between Lindbergh and HSR.

Very very few... to zero would take trips from HSR to Lindbergh for long-haul flights.... because, there are not that many out of Lindbergh... nor will there ever be.

Additionally, Lindbergh is not a hub... very few long-haul (or even medium haul) flights come in/out of Lindbergh. Such demand.... rail to airport (and vice versa) would be nominal relative to serving in-state HSR riders destined to downtown, OR regional commuters destined to downtown San Diego.

If you didn't know... one of Lindbergh's additional challenges is having a short runway. That ties the hand behind airlines needing to operate larger craft needed to make long-haul flights profitable.

Of course, HSR riders destined to elsewhere in the state can do so via HSR.

And, local HSR to airport users could travel to other airports.... like Ontario. Or, maybe Orange County John Wayne made easy by the San Diego line being linked through Orange County rather than Riverside.

---

Elsewhere.... despite your examples in Germany and elsewhere... rail to airport connections have their greatest value on a map. As an example, BART to SFO usage has been underwhelming... although you will not hear from politico's that it's only a success and not a failure.

Robert said...

@Brandon - you are of course right about Lindbergh not being a hub, but HSR connecting direct to Lindbergh makes it a heckuva lot more likely that someone will take the train from Temecula or Escondido, rather than drive, to the airport.

@Anon - I think your argument is flawed regarding commuter airline connections. The RT fare to LA may be $400, but I just booked a RT ticket to SFO VIA LAX for $130. At the moment a typical RT ticket for nonstops between SAN and JFK is as low as $399. The same itinerary but via LAX can be as cheap as $319. So cutting out a commuter flight but adding a separate fare on HSR adds cost, rather than saving it. HSR has to be a completely separate alternative, which is why it is talked about for short to medium range trips. On the other hand, I would take HSR to Ontario if the airfare from there was cheaper - I have driven to Santa Ana and left my car there when it has made sense from an overall cost standpoint.

@David Archbold - having a Coaster stop in Sorrento Valley does not "serve" University City. Won't until they come up with something better than the pathetic van shuttle service that runs now.

Eileen said...

AThis train needs to stop in Mira Mesa and head down the 15 to the 163 and continue to travel to the Santa Fe Station in a straight path. Mira Mesa is the FORGOTTEN COMMUNITY as this whole debate is sidelining the ridership that will come from Mira Mesa. Donna Frye and Carl DeMaio don't want Mira Mesa to be anything but a dumping grounds for low income housing so they can contiune to increase the crime rate here so they can point out how horrible the largest neighborhood in San Diego is. Put the stop in Mira Mesa, then go straight down town, never extend the HOV lanes that are simply a waste of concrete as they are very little used on I15.

Just like the attempts to get Miramar Air Station for the airport, all Frye and Demaio want to do is waste more time and more money making studies so they can get rich from the delays.

If UCSD wants rail they should extend the Metrolink lines from Sorrento valley instead of trying to hijack this wonderful answer to the FORGOTTEN COMMUNITY's needs for a decent method to reach downtown without using their POV and causing more pollution.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Follow the numbers. I bet if you microscopically compared ridership numbers.... with a downtown station versus one at Lindbergh.... downtown would draw far more riders. Probably those largely being commuters.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

As a former student of UCSD and a current native of Los Angeles, I highly want the high speed rail plan linking the two Southern California cities. Right now, all I have is to take the 3 hour Amtrak or drive down there.

Why isn't there more advertisement going on to support this? It's a great way to get things really moving in California again.

Anyhow, I want to comment on some of the arguments made here.

First of all, I don't think a high speed rail will be useful for a connection directly to Lindbergh. I mean, that airport is really small and it doesn't handle much flights in the first place. Besides, San Diego is more like a final destination city than an airport that is used for connecting flights as one person mentioned.

Instead, I think a direct air-to-rail station would be better at LAX. Can someone explain to me why there's no plan to have a station there? That airport really fits the needs of a high-speed rail station. For one, LAX is a very busy airport; I think it's in the top ten or something of the world's busiest airpors. There's a lot of domestic flights from there, and lot of carriers call LAX as a hub or a focus city - Southwest, Alaska, American, Delta and United all have huge bases there. Plus, it brings in lots of international flights from all over the world. I think it's benefitial to have a airport station at LAX than say Ontario, Palmdale or San Diego.

Using one of the poster's example backwards, a person living in San Diego can then take the train directly to LAX and onto a flight to Seoul. A person living in London can fly directly into LAX and connect there to downtown San Diego. LAX has a lot more "connectivity" (is that the right word?) than an airport station at Lindbergh.


Secondly, I really think there should be a station at University City. A lot of college students can really benefit from a much easier method of transportation. It's also pretty close to La Jolla and all the cool places in San Diego too.

In my opinion, I think it's ridiculous to succumb to a bunch of rich whiners who can't get their heads out of the sand. To these people, the "STFU and suck it up method" really sounds the best way to get things moving than wasting our tax dollars and precious time trying to deal things out with these hardheads.

You'd think that some of the rich people living there would see the benefit of a high-speed rail system from their probable travels all across the world, but I guess they can't get their addiction off of their Land Rovers. The nerve!!

David Archbold said...

LAX is very near to capacity for daily flights while Ontario has so much untapped capacity with expansion plans that it really is a viable option for relieving stress at SoCal airports; currently 2 terminals with plans for 5 total with two runways. Ontario is the default backup for flights into LAX from overseas, and is also the shorter distance for flights low on fuel into LAX.

Joey said...

I don't think that a direct HSR connection to LAX is feasible. Besides, I thought we wanted to take pressure off of LAX by adding other options. Anyway, what might be possible (and probably useful) is an express rail link between LAUS and LAX. This type of "Airport Express" service is done all over the world today (i.e. London, Hong Kong, Tokyo). It would be one transfer from HSR, but it would still provide an important service, and not just to HSR passengers.

Anonymous said...

@David

I dunno Dave... I used to work near LAX and I hear there is a plan to expand LAX and start diverting more domestic flights to Ontario while keeping LAX as an international gateway.

Using one poster's example, a lot of the gates at LAX can be alleviated by getting rid of the flights to Fresno and San Diego which can be handled by a direct high speed rail station. Flights between the Bay Area and LAX can also be cut dramtically too. Flights to NorCal especially because they use fairly large planes like 150 seater jets.

Plus, considering the financial troubles that the big airlines are having these days, they're actually reducing the number of flights to LAX these days.

And if you consider the possibility of the less need of these short-hop flights out of LAX and diverting more of those to trains, the number of flights and gates should become avaiable too.


Besides, if they are considering to use Ontario as a backup to LAX, then there should be an even more reason to connect the two airports with direct high speed rail. How else is a person from Tokyo who's been diverted to Ontario supposed to catch the plane to Mexico City leaving out of LAX?

Anonymous said...

@Joey

Actually, that plan is failing in Japan.

A lot of my business acquaintances are Japanese expatriates and they hate the domestic/international separation between Tokyo-Haneda and Tokyo-Narita via the train station. And there's really no direct high-speed rail to neither of their airports too so it just adds to more weariness.

A flight from LA to Tokyo-Narita, hop on train to Tokyo station, transfer to bullet train to Osaka is such a drag, they're just opting to fly from LA to Seoul to Osaka.

A flight from LA to Tokyo-Narita, hop on bus transfer to Tokyo-Haneda that can vary anywhere from 60-120 minutes depending on traffic to Tokyo-Haneda for a domestic transfer to somewhere else in Japan is a pain in the butt, that they're just opting to fly LA to Seoul to somewhere in Japan.

As such, neither of the Tokyo airports are seeing a benefit of domestic/international separated airport and they are actually losing their competetive edge against the airport in Seoul.

Instead, the Japanese government is now re-considering to re-use Tokyo-Haneda as an international airport again and dump Narita all together.

Considering the above, San Francisco has a good thing going with a direct air-to-high-speed rail transfer plan. But SoCal will be missing out if LAX doesn't have one either.


I don't think the express rail link between LAX and LAUS would work according to plan either. Look at London. There's an express train out of Heathrow to London, but not a lot people are taking that to say get off at Heathrow, take the train, transfer and onto the Eurostar to Paris or Brussels, right? People would rather avoid lugging around their bags as much as possible and just stick to staying at Heathrow for their connecting flight.

The whole point of having a direct air-to-HSR transfer is to alleviate the need of the connecting passenger from wasting time and making as much transfers as possible with their luggage around. An express rail link between LAX and LAUS kinda defeats that purpose rather than having a direct airport station at LAX itself.

If I were a passenger from a flight from Tokyo and if I wanted to go to San Diego, and if the options were to take a connecting flight to Lindbergh at LAX or take a transfer at LAUS onwards to downtown San Diego, I'd say forget it, the latter is too much of a hassle, I'll stick with connecting at LAX and have my bags checked all the way through.

Matthew Fedder said...

@Eileen:

I too live in the depths of the pit of despair that is Mira Mesa. I don't think there would be much value in putting the HSR stop here, but it would be nice if the trolley line were extended out here.

David Archbold said...

The value in Mira Mesa is that community college and MCAS Miramar. We also have a growing population, much like UTC, but with only bussing for mass transit.

Joey said...

@Anonymous

That primary purpose of such a rail link is to connect the city center (downtown) with the airport; transfers to other modes of transportation are secondary. So even if people don't always transfer, that doesn't make it a failure. Besides, is one transfer really that bad? If discounts are provided for transferring passengers, and they aren't required to wait around for long periods of time, then that transfer could prove quite attractive to travelers. Sure, it would be ideal if you could have a direct link from everywhere to everywhere else, but in some cases, there just isn't enough ridership to justify it.

Joey said...

The main problem with connecting HSR to LAUS is that it isn't along the route. Places like Ontario can just be a stop because they're along the route, but LAUS would have to be a destination in its own right, and I'm really doubtful as to whether or not there would be enough ridership to justify that.

Anonymous said...

@Joey

Oh come on, now your making nonsense. You're not telling me that an international gateway and a primordial hub such as LAX will not have ridership for a direct high-speed rail station? That's just absurd!

Let's look at the facts here:

LAX is one of the largest airports in the world.

They've recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation of the international terminal to carry in more passengers from across the globe. LAX is not going to go away or replaced by Ontario anytime soon with all that investment done.

It's a big hub and focus city for United, American, Delta, Alaska and Southwest. A lot of these carriers also fly commuter jets to Fresno, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco. Flights that could be done away with by having a simple and easy direct high-speed rail link at LAX.


Is one transfer a big deal? Yes, it is! Have you tried carrying around a 20 pound suitcase and a laptop bag crosstown!?

I've done it once at New York-JFK, taking the LIRR to Penn Station and hauling them onto the Acela Express to Hartford, CT. Forget it, never again. Banging my suitcase everywhere, getting on the train, getting off the train, dragging it around crowded train stations, bumping into people, hauling them downstairs because the elevator and escalator was full, running to catch the train that was leaving in 3 minutes with my luggage, getting on the train again... it was so much of hassle you would never believe until you experience it yourself. Now imagine doing that if you were travelling with an entire family!! Aye-yi-yi!

The next time around, I found it so much easier to just check my bags through and fly into Newark and make a connection there on a short-hop commuter flight to Hartford.

Now if there was a direct alternative like an Acela train station at any of the New York airports, that would be different story. I could just collect my bags, head downstairs and hop on the Acela all the way to Hartford. No running around crosstown with bags. Overall, it's almost as smooth as waiting for a connecting flight.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 11:26pm -

CHSRA would have run its trains out to LAX in a heartbeat, there just isn't a suitable right of way.

LA Metro acquired the old BNSF Harbor Subdivision Transit Corridor from the harbors to Redondo Junction via Century/Aviation after the Alameda Corridor was created. However, that ROW is very narrow (currently single track), features a number of tight curves is and chock-full of grade crossings.

LA Metro is currently in the early planning stages, figuring out if it should be used for a heavy rail express shuttle between LAX and LA Union Station or else for light rail. Either way, the project is unfunded for now.

Note that Ontario could support transcontinental/intercontinental flights, it's really a question of whether there are enough passengers to support them. One idea would be special shuttle trains from downtown San Diego to Ontario Airport only, with bags checked through at the San Diego train station, which would have a IATA code that appears in all the airline reservation systems. That would require a side spur at both stations, though, to permit secure baggage handling.

Cp. the City Airport Train in Vienna, Austria. It currently offers city check-in only, though, passengers on arriving flights still have to pick up their bags at the airport. The Mitte train station is currently being remodeled.

Anonymous said...

Let's reverse the above post with LAX without a direct HSR station and the "one-transfer method at LAUS."

Suppose we're a family of four flying in from Tokyo, heading on a vacation to San Diego to Sea World and the San Diego Zoo for the kids, and an adults night out in TJ (wink wink).


We fly in from Tokyo to Los Angeles.

Here are our options onward to San Diego:

1) Clear immigration, collect our bags, clear customs and re-check them for our connecting flight to San Diego. Waiting time for connecting flight is two hours (leaving in cushion time for any long lines at immigration, collecting bags and changing terminals at LAX). Flight is about 45 minutes total considering wait time for push-back, taxi-ing and landing. Arriving at San Diego approx 3 hours from landing at LAX. Not bad since we didn't have to carry our luggage around as much.

But there's still the chance of missing our flight if the flight from Tokyo is late and we miss the connection. We could be accomodated on another flight, but considering the small commuter jets that they between LAX and Lindbergh, they may not have seats available for a family of four, so this is a risk in itself.



2) Clear immigration, collect our bags, clear customs , and head downstairs for the express train to LAUS. Let's say this process takes about an hour (ever cleared customers and collected bags at LAX on an int'l flight? You know what I mean *snicker*) Then we make it downstairs for a 15-30 min train ride to LAUS. Transfer at LAUS dragging all of our bags for our connecting HSR to downtown San Diego. Kids have shorter walking legs and are getting tired so let's give it a 30 minute cushion time for bathroom breaks and juice. Weariness is starting to show as we haul two 20 pound suitcases, carry-ons and two kids around LAUS. Get on to CAHSR for an approx 1.5 hour ride to San Diego. Arrive at San Diego all weary 3.5 hours later from arrival at LAX from all that hauling of luggage crosstown. Ugh, doesn't seem so nice compared to directly connecting onto a commuter flight at LAX does it?



But what if there was a direct high-speed rail link at LAX instead?


3) Clear immigration, collect our bags, clear customs , and head downstairs for the direct high-speed rail link to San Diego. As with above, let's give it an hour to go through the immigration and collecting bags process. Ride smoothly for 1.5 hours on the HSR directly from LAX to downtown San Diego. Ahhh...the relaxation. The no hassle of lugging around luggage crosstown plus the ease of connecting directly at the airport, and the comfort of knowing that a 500 passenger seat HSR will be available almost anytime of the day even if my flight from Tokyo is delayed. Arrival at downtown San Diego 2.5 hours after landing at LAX.

jim said...

you know I dont even know why we are discussing san diego. since that portion is eons away. There is no way of knowing what people will want 20 years from now except to say that what is likely is that once the LA-SF portion is up and running and people are raving about it, san diego nimbys may well decide they want a piece. It SD wants it, let them figure out how to get it.

Anonymous said...

@ Rafael

That works ONLY if the international air carriers are willing to both fly into LAX and Ontario, which I highly doubt any carrier would be willing to do so. It makes no economic sense for long-haul international carriers to fly both into LAX and Ontario.

Just look at any other major airports around the world: Most major international carriers fly into Heathrow and very few from Gatwick except for some mid-distance European flights or domestic UK flights. Majority of international carriers fly into Charles de Gaulle and only low-cost carriers fly into Orly. Majority of international carriers fly into Tokyo Narita, whereas few city-to-city "scheduled int'l charters" and domestic flights fly out of Haneda.

The main rationale here is that LAX is not going to go away. It'll remain as Los Angeles' main international gateway. Why else would they spent billions in the LAX Master Plan and renovations to the international terminal building? They even have plans to upgrade the international terminal to add a western wing to it for increased international flights.

And that comes to the existence of Ontario. Who is going to use that?

Do you really think Japan Airlines is going to fly both Tokyo-LAX and Tokyo-Ontario? Or British Airways to fly both London-LAX and London-Ontario? Or Lufthansa to fly both Frankfurt-LAX and Frankfurt-Ontario? Or Korean Air to fly both Seoul-LAX and Seoul-Ontario? It makes no economical sense to them. It'll be one or the other, and with these guys already having presence and offices at LAX, they're not gonna move to Ontario.

Plus, Ontario doesn't even have a huge presence of domestic flights. Most of the international carriers are aligned with alliances with US domestic partners. Japan Airlines and British Airways will stick to using LAX because American has a huge presence there. Lufthansa will continue to use LAX because United has a hub at LAX. And Korean Air will continue to use LAX because Delta has a huge presence at LAX.

What incentive does Ontario have to offer to these guys that LAX can't? They're not gonna switch to Ontario just because it has a high-speed rail. To these guys, they want the high-speed rail to come to LAX instead.

jim said...

anyway the train should go to palm springs before it goes to san diego.

Anonymous said...

Amazing that everyone here is so concerned with San Diego, since it won't get started until at least 2020, and only then if there are profits to be obtained from running the mail line.

A lot to do about nothing. Also remember San Diego Co voted no on Prop 1A by 48 yes vs 52 no. I guess all the excitement about it coming there way exists in this blog only.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 12:49am -

let me repeat: it doesn't matter how much economic sense it would make to YOU to take trains out there, there simply is NO suitable right of way for HSR out to LAX. That is the conclusion CHSRA reluctantly arrived at years ago.

Note that LAX isn't going to get a third runway, any more than SFO is, because of local opposition to the additional land use, noise, traffic etc. A major objective for the HSR project is to eliminate pressure for such expansion.

While it's true that airlines will probably not be keen to fly into both LAX and ONT, it is entirely possible that selected airlines will decide to serve ONT instead of LAX iff the HSR connection is such that ONT can actually command a catchment area from Bakersfield to San Diego. Ideally, there should also be adequate connecting transit from ONT to Orange County, e.g. via motorcoach.

Initially, most destinations will be in North America incl. Hawaii but there will likely be some to South America, Europe and Asia as well.

The success or failure of the solution depends critically on exactly how passengers and baggage move between the HSR station and the airport terminals. Ontario isn't much of a destination in its own right, so airlines would have to sell plane/HSR combos directly into downtown area of the destination city.

David Archbold said...

If you guys think hauling luggage with kids is bad, try it in a wheelchair - it's not even a bad joke.

DanM said...

I'm not sure this is 100% NIMBY-ism. I live in San Diego (north county), and --although a UTC station would be convenient-- I think a path to downtown via Qualcomm stadium makes the most sense.

Most visitors to San Diego stay in either downtown or Hotel Circle (midway between Qualcomm and downtown).

Additionally, I cannot see any logic to linking into Lindberg Field (airport). Lindberg does not currently support much meaningful long-haul air traffic and has no useful on-site infrastructure (parking and rental cars are off-site connected by bus)

//dan.

Rafael said...

@ DanM -

Lindbergh Field is about to receive a major revamp. The main terminal, parking and transit connections will all move to the north-east corner of the property.

Therefore, the facilities at Lindbergh today are irrelevant for the purposes of HSR planning. However, the single runway will remain a constraint. Airport planners wanted HSR to stop there not to act as a feeder for aviation, but literally as a flight level zero airline to relieve the runway. Train passengers could then use the airport parking garages.

The question is if that relief wouldn't be even more effective if the train stopped where people ultimately want to be, i.e. downtown. That's why CHSRA initially penciled in the Santa Fe Depot as the site of the San Diego station.

The difference boils down to how people will choose to get from the train station to their final destination: walking, taxi, transit, shuttle van, rental car or private car.

Anonymous said...

Maybe people are discussing San Diego because they instinctively understand that is where the hsr should go from the outset instead of blinking Palmdale.

Pray that some deus ex machina stops the Kopp-Diridon frankenstein dead in its trax soon and California can get back to I-5-Grapevine-San Diego straight shot. Stop Bechtel before it ****s up again.

Joey said...

Still?

Peter said...

Sooooo, you want to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles via San Diego? Have you ever looked at a map?

And maybe people are discussing San Diego because the CHSRA has begun the environmental planning to there?

Joey said...

No harm in starting early. I would be weary of making final decisions too soon though.

AndyDuncan said...

The question in san diego isn't so much whether there should be rail connection to the airport, it's whether airport bound HSR passengers will have to transfer to a trolly to get to the airport, or if downtown-bound HSR passengers will have to transfer to a trolly to get downtown.

Given what has been seen around the world, we know pretty much for a fact that more people are going to be going to downtown San Diego than to the airport, so it's just a matter of optimizing the station location and transfer patterns to suit where the ridership is going to be.

One thing that's important to remember is that the new terminals at Lindberg field will only be 1.5 miles away from Santa Fe station. That's almost exactly the same as the distance between the terminals at SFO and the "SFO" HSR station.

Putting a HSR station in or alongside an airport terminal is a good idea in certain situations, but there's not a compelling case to be made here, since the distances between the two locations is so small, and there will be another rail link between the two.

Someone mentioned Charles De Gaulle as an example of where co-location HSR works. That may be true, but nobody would suggest putting a station at CDG INSTEAD of downtown Paris.

AndyDuncan said...

@Rafael: "Note that LAX isn't going to get a third runway, any more than SFO is, because of local opposition to the additional land use, noise, traffic etc. A major objective for the HSR project is to eliminate pressure for such expansion."

LAX already has a third runway (and a fourth). Two on the north side and two on the south. The expansion plans call for moving the northern runways further apart and putting a taxiway in between them, that will add capacity by making plane movements. I don't know about the southern runways.

Westchester residents have indeed been fighting to keep the runways from moving closer to their houses, but there's not a lot of local sympathy for their cause. In order to minimize the distance the northernmost runway will have to move, they plan on making terminals 1,2 and 3 one long flat terminal with no spurs, and moving the southernmost of the two northern runways further south.

The international terminal expansion is sorely needed. Some international flights are already forced to use the remote terminals and take a bus back to the main terminal. Which is no fun for anyone.

LAWA plans on using bonds to cover the construction, paid for by increased landing fees and consessions prices, among other things, but supposedly not using any (explicit) tax dollars.

We'll see, I suppose. LAX generally breaks even on operations, but increased landing fees and the disruption of construction could cause some airlines to take a closer look at Ontario. Some have already moved their international flights to SFO.

AndyDuncan said...

@Rafael: let me repeat: it doesn't matter how much economic sense it would make to YOU to take trains out there, there simply is NO suitable right of way for HSR out to LAX. That is the conclusion CHSRA reluctantly arrived at years ago.

While we're in agreement on the limited value of HSR to airports, there is a perfectly suitable ROW to LAX that I know you know about, the Harbor Subdivision Corridor.

In fact one of the proposed alternatives is an express line between LAUS and LAX. Such a line would most likely be built as metrolink or DMUs, but there's no reason they couldn't electrify it, grade separate it, and run non-compliant trainsets to it. Whether those trainsets were wearing LAX Express livery, Metrolink livery, or CAHSR livery would be a bit of a moot point.

The reason CAHSR rejected the LAX alignment was because ridership numbers didn't add up.

Personally, I'm hoping for the "Regional Service" option, which would be a metrolink-style train from LAUS to LAX making two stops along the way, and continuing down to Long Beach. While that would probably be DMU or heavy rail, there is again no reason it couldn't be electrified and non-compliant.

Alon Levy said...

There's no reason a big city can't have two major international airports. New York has both JFK and Newark, and most international carriers fly to both. Newark even has some Acela service, though most trains don't stop there.

The ICE and TGV systems serve only major airports, such as Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt. CAHSR is imitating this practice by serving SFO, and proposing stops at Palmdale and Ontario to use those airports as relief for LAX. There's no point in stopping at Lindbergh, which is not a hub for connecting flights and will never be.

Rafael said...

@ Andy Duncan -

the real issue with expanding LAX isn't so much the land required for the new taxiway(s) but rather, the additional traffic generated by the additional passengers and freight. The 405 is a parking lot as it is.

HSR trains are never going to run along the Harbor Subdivision Transit Corridor because CHSRA isn't going to risk running expensive high speed trains through a gauntlet of grade crossings and full grade separation would be ruinously expensive. Besides, the ROW is only 30' wide, enough for only one heavy but two light rail tracks.

Ergo, what LAX desperately needs is relief in the form of more flights out of ONT. That airport should eventually be re-branded as "LAX East" (code LXE isn't taken yet).

To anyone not from California, Ontario is a province of Canada. No-one even associates it with Los Angeles, so there's a long way to go before it can attract enough flights to offer effective relief for LAX. An HSR station alone won't be enough.

David Archbold said...

LXE would be a great supporting instrument for promoting Ontario to airlines to adopt as a secondary destination while continuing operations at LAX

Anonymous said...

As an employee of an international carrier, I’d like to add my two cents on the hopes that major international carriers will be able to make the move to Ontario.
First of all, a lot of the ideas that the California High Speed Rail Authority are using for airlines and airports are highly outdated. The inception of the CAHSRA was back in the early 1990s. A lot has changed since then.
The thing that bothers me the most is how I see that the CAHSRA is taking airport-to-rail station lightly without really researching the partnership from the perspective of the airline industry. And by the airline industry, I do not mean just the small picture of intra-California or US domestic routes, but the entire big picture with the international flights included.
One place I see this the most is the CAHSRA’s assumption that all international carriers will switch to Ontario on a whim if they create a high speed rail station there. This is clearly shown by the light-hearted presumption that Ontario is already an alternate airport for LAX and that it has capacity to expand, and that other places have worked well with several large airports in the immediate vicinity.
Now this assumption may have worked in the old textbook, but if they were to ask any of the international carriers now, they will surely get a very cold response. Now, all the airlines are grouped into major global alliances and have strong interlining/codesharing agreements with one another. This is a paradigm shift to the outdated idea that the CAHSRA relies on which is based carriers flying from point A to point B. This is not the case anymore ever since a new playbook was adopted by the major carriers all across the world AFTER the creation of the CAHSRA. That playbook is called the global airline alliance concept which was formulated in the late 1990s and early 2000. Simply put, it’s basically an expanded concept of the hub-and-spoke method, except instead of one carrier flying into a base airline hub, a group of tight-knit synergetic airlines to fly into a specific airport for a win-win relationship.

Let me give you an example. Carrier A can fly Tokyo to Mexico City non-stop. But the cost doesn’t justify flying a huge Boeing 747 jumbo jet there when not many people fly that route. But a smaller plane can’t carry that much fuel for such a long range flight. Yet, they can’t drop that route altogether because there’s still a lucrative business and tourism market between Tokyo and Mexico City. This was a major dilemma that faced all carriers alike.
The global alliance concept took on that dilemma by expanding on the hub-and-spoke method and combining it with tightly-knit code-sharing and interlining agreements. Carrier A will carry the passengers half-way to Los Angeles which justifies the cost of flying a jumbo jet because LA itself is a lucrative destination, and then an alliance partner can pick up those who want to go to Mexico City or to any other destination whereas a non-stop route cannot be justified for the above mentioned reasons. This mode of travel has been so successful since its adoption that most world’s major airlines have now aligned themselves to one of three major alliances, and they account for more than 60% of the world’s travelling passengers.

Now one of the posters made a great argument. That person mentioned why a high-speed rail station at Ontario would not entice major air carriers to move there instead of LAX. This is exactly the reason that I’m making right now.

Anonymous said...

Japan Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and LAN Airlines all fly into LAX. They belong to a global alliance called oneworld. American and Mexicana is also a part of that global alliance. Without a huge American and Mexicana presence in Ontario, JAL, BA, Cathay, Qantas and LAN will have no motivation to move to Ontario. Japan Airlines would rather stick with an airport that has the ability to pick up some of the connecting passengers flying on American from Boston and fly them out to Tokyo. On the other side, American would rather stick to staying at LAX where they can pick up Qantas passengers and fly them out to Chicago. Mexicana would stick to staying at LAX where they can pick up Cathay Pacific passengers from Hong Kong and fly them out to Mexico City. LAN Airlines would love to fly Peru to Japan non-stop for their own Peruvian-Japanese populace and to bring in the booming tourism industry for Japanese tourists to see Macchu Picchu but they have either the capital or the planes available for such a long flight. So they opt to fly half way to LAX and have Japan Airlines or American pick up the passengers to Narita and vice-versa.
Same holds true for Lufthansa, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Air Canada, China Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Asiana Airlines. They belong to a mega-global alliance called the Star Alliance which has strong relationships with United, US Airways, and Continental. Air New Zealand is not going to move to Ontario just because it has a high speed rail station. They’d rather stick to staying at LAX where United has a hub so they can carry passengers flying on United from Denver and taking them to Auckland. Conversely, Continental is not going to move out of LAX because they can pick up potential passengers flying in from Frankfurt by Lufthansa and carry them onwards Honolulu. Singapore is not going to fly into Ontario because they can pickup passengers flying on US Airways from Philadelphia at LAX.
And we have the other remaining alliance called Skyteam. International carriers such as Air France, Korean Air, Aeroflot, are aligned with their North American counterparts, Delta and Aeromexico. Neither Air France or Aeromexico will be willing to switch to Ontario because then they’ll both lose out on the Paris-via LAX-Cancun business. Korean Air is not going to move to Ontario because Delta brings in passengers from Atlanta at LAX.

Getting the big picture now in mind, you see how in this day and age, Ontario is not going to be an attractive destination for any international carrier just because it has a glitzy and fancy high speed rail station. They are not as much in the business of flying point A to point B anymore. Instead, they save costs and look after each other by flying point A to point B, where point B itself is a lucrative destination in itself, but as an airport that serves as a connecting point where their various alliance partners can pick them at point B to various point Cs

Anonymous said...

Dividing up LAX and Ontario defeats the purpose of the entire global airline alliance concept. Having on airport take up some while leaving the rest at the other doesn’t work in this day and age of globalized travel. International carriers are NOT going to move to Ontario unless all of their alliance partners moves, including their US domestic counterparts. In fact, I would be willing to bet a hundred dollars that if the CAHSRA went to LAX right now and interviewed each of the major airlines that are part of the three major global alliances and ask if they will move to Ontario, they will answer that they see NO BENEFIT of moving to Ontario even if it had a direct high-speed rail station unless all of their US and Latin American partners do so as well. And if all the major US carriers leave LAX, then LAX will become deserted and all that multi-billion dollar renovation going on there will have had no meaning and will be just a waste of tax dollars.
Now considering that none of the international carriers have the incentive to move to Ontario, nor that we can just move all the airlines from LAX over to Ontario, let’s look at bringing in a direct HSR transfer station at LAX. Now has a solution that works best for all transfers and connections at all intra-state, domestic, and international travel combined into one area. It allows the ease of transfers between a family living in Fresno to travel directly into LAX and fly out to London. Frankfurters can fly into LAX and still have the ability to transfer to their flight to Honolulu because their connecting flight stays in the same airport. A family of four from Tokyo can fly into LAX and take the direct train to Sea World. Conversely a businessman on that same Tokyo flight can connect at the same airport on his way for a lucrative business deal in Mexico City. It keeps all transportation together at one place, creating a synergetic bond between the international and the domestic airlines and the high-speed rail together.

Now if the CAHSRA is really serious about this, they should’ve researched more into this matter. Unfortunately, I fail to see that they have really studied into this matter seriously. Why else would they have the inane proposal of having an Ontario, Palmdale or San Diego Airport station while completely missing out on LAX? “Because it’s too difficult” is not an answer that I’m looking for, to me that just sounds like laziness. If they are serious, they would try to connect at LAX at all costs, despite all the obstacles in the way. They would try to make a completely underground segment for the HSR to LAX instead of using existing right of ways. No, in fact the even the mentioning of existing right of ways to LAX makes me to believe that all they looked for was the cheapest way out.

Anyhow, I'd like to apologize for writing a long response. Hopefully, you'll now understand why it won't be so easy to just transfer all international flights to Ontario just because it has room to expand or that it has a gltizy new high speed rail station. It's going to take alot more than that to convince international carriers with a new playbook in their hands called the global airline alliance concept.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 5:31pm -

perhaps you're giving CHSRA too much credit for the airport strategy. The city of LA, in the guise of LAWA, lobbied hard for HSR to run past both Palmdale and Ontario, with strong support from politicians in Sacramento who have essentially given up on attempts to expand capacity at LAX.

I completely agree that simply building an HSR station at Ontario, even if it's well integrated with the terminals there, isn't going to be enough. Getting all of the airlines in either the oneworld or the StarAlliance partnerships to switch would require much more of a full court press on LAWA's part.

More to the point, they need to develop a long-term strategic concept for LAX + ONT in close co-operation with the airlines. "Build it and they will come" isn't a strategy.

However, I disagree with you that running HSR out to LAX at all cost is necessarily the answer. With capacity permanently constrained, LAWA doesn't want passenger or cargo volume to grow substantially at LAX.

Also, with HSR the Ontario airport will be as close (or closer) to downtown LA than LAX. The concept that Ontario airport will never be more than a regional airport for just the Inland Empire needs to be challenged in the minds of both airline industry executives and passengers.

And that starts with renaming the airport at the appropriate time, to set the expectation that SoCal will be served not by one but two large airports going forward.

Joey said...

Well after hearing the case for HSR to LAX, I guess it makes sense. The problem still remains of GETTING THERE, however. The Harbor Subdivision corridor, as previously mentioned, isn't even wide enough for two tracks in many places. That means eminent domain on a large scale (mostly industrial but some homes too). This makes it (a)controversial and (b)expensive. I doubt it could happen unless the airport/airlines contributed significant backing/funding for this project. While I'm at it it might be worth mentioning that that corridor could justify as many as four tracks, for local, express, and HSR service, though I'm not exactly sure how that would be divided up. In any case, this is not a project to be taken lightly.

Alon Levy said...

Anon, the global alliance system just means that for operations purposes, airlines within OneWorld, or Star, or Skyteam, are effectively merged. From CAHSR's perspective, this means that instead of getting many independent airlines to switch, it needs to either get one alliance to switch, or get many different airlines to serve both airports. New York is a pretty good model here - there are no separate airports for Star and OneWorld; US-based airlines and many foreign airlines fly into both JFK and Newark. New York and Los Angeles are large enough destinations and hubs they can support two major airports each.

AndyDuncan said...

Let's also remember that diverted air travel is only about 25% or so (by trips, not passenger miles, they haven't said what the expected split is for passenger miles) of the expected ridership for CAHSR. The rest is coming from a small percentage of an incredibly large number of trips that are currently auto-based.

LAX could have a connection, I disagree with Rafael that it's infeasible, but I agree with him that it probably won't happen, mainly for political reasons as the communities the line is supposed to run through will demand light rail and a bunch of stations, and the LA basin has essentially no long term regional rail plan.

I do think, however, anon, that Ontario could be a successful overflow airport for LAX even if all or nearly all of the international flights remain at LAX. We have a large number of secondary airports in LA already that are nearing capacity, ONT just happens to be one that still has some left. Burbank, Santa Ana and Long Beach all have large numbers of flights for domestic "low cost" airlines like southwest and jet blue that aren't part of the alliances you mention, in addition to the big american carriers like United, American and Delta.

While HSR code-shares with Cathay Pacific out of ONT aren't going to happen, it's still possible that ONT can provide overflow for LAX, and being able to get to ONT in 20 minutes from Downtown LA is going to be a huge part of that.

Anonymous said...

Some of the flights that are not aligned with the major global alliances can be moved out of LAX.

Carriers such as SunCountry, Virgin America, Frontier, Midwest, AirTran, Allegiant, Spirit, Southwest and JetBlue could be shifted towards ONT. Most of their model is based on the low-cost carrier and point-to-point model.

Several non-aligned international flights can also be relieved at Ontario: TACA, LACSA, Avianca, Volaris, WestJet, Virgin Atlantic, V Australia, airberlin, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, El Al, Air Pacific and Air Tahiti Nui.

Of course there are some regional majors that should remain at LAX for partnership purposes. Most notably are Alaska/Horizon and Hawaiian, which has this weird relationship of codesharing across the board with all the majors and international carriers without being a particular member to a single alliance.

Spokker said...

Joey, the Harbor Subdivision is claimed by Metro. It will most likely be light rail. CAHSRA won't be able to touch it.

Joey said...

Well then, that leaves ... let me count ... ZERO options for extending HSR to LAX. Pity, I suppose. LAX could really benefit from at the very least an express connection to downtown LA.

Spokker said...

I support light rail on the Harbor Subdivision. It would go through a lot of low income areas full of people who wouldn't be able to use HSR anyway. They'll be able to get a lot of use out of a light rail link though.

Joey said...

I don't dispute that the areas along the harbor subdivision need service. I'm just wondering if an express connection might be useful AS WELL as light rail/local rail.

Spokker said...

Like you said, there's hardly room for two tracks there.

Joey said...

You can't break an omelette without breaking a few eggs... I know it would require eminent domain. Though a real EIR would be necessary to determine if it would really be worth it; I'm just speculating based on probable need.

David Archbold said...

To Anon,

The idea that airlines would shun operations at two airports in a close region ignores the benefits of diversity in airports. Yes, there would be some disagreement about which flights should be destined for Ontario; there is the all to logical possibility that passengers would recognize that a secondary airport for domestic connections from international flights and another for other international destinations makes a lot more sense than 'all eggs in one basket' if you consider undesirable events. Just because things have always been done a certain way doesn't mean they will always be done that way.

Brandon in San Diego said...

The Harbor Subdivision project is not really going very far... the staff report on the Alternatives Analysis is on Metro for one of their subcommittees coming up.

The first supported recommendation to advance into DEIR/DEIS is extending the Green Line to the south... to the Torrance RTC. LRT appears to be the lead technology; however, it appears DMU's is an option too. LRT has higher projected ridership.

Another semi-highly recommended for advancing into DEIR/DEIS links the Blue Line at Slauson to the proposed Crenshaw line.

None of the concepts to Union Station appear to be favored.

On the other hand, there once was a Green Line extension on the east end to connect to the Sante Fe Springs Metrolink Station (and possible future HSR station) . I don't know the status of that as there is nothign on the Metro site that I could see.

Anonymous said...

Dave,

The idea of separated domestic an international airports completely failed completely in Tokyo. While it made good sense initially, once people started using it, they began to experience the hassle and the pain in the butt aspect to crosstown when making a connection. And like any other citizen of a democratic country, they began bashing the government (whom they chose in the first place) as a huge waste of tax funds for something that's so obvious as night and day (which again, if they're so smart, why didn't they object to it in the first place?).

The key here is connection. The idea of separated airports only works if you're flying point to point. But it works crap when one has to travel crosstown for a connecting flight.

Would you deliberately book a flight to Newark and make your way across the Hudson and Manhattan dragging your suitcases and carryons and your family to catch your connecting flight at JFK to Istanbul? Plus, you also have the worry that anything could go wrong: from the delay getting into Newark, your bags not coming out at Neward, bus transfer to JFK stuck in a traffic jams in New York, etc. etc.

Or would you rather avoid the hassle and just book LAX to JFK to Istanbul? Mind you that a direct LAX to Istanbul flight does not exist.


To give you statistics, the number of passengers that passed through LAX last year was roughly 60 million. Approximately 70% of passengers use LAX as O-D (origin-destination). The separation of domestic and international airports works perfectly fine for them.

It's the remaining 30%, or 18 million passengers at LAX that are gonna feel the pain the in the butt for connecting crosstown between LAX and Ontario. And the airports in the Los Angeles areas are not that great to begin with. These 18 million annual passengers are going to be the biggest and loudest voices to start saying "LAX is the crappiest place to go, avoid it like the plague!" which will further damage our reputation as a visitor friendly city (which it isn't to begin with).

Anonymous said...

Things would be easy if this were China. No meetings, no scopings, no EIR studies and endless debates. Just draw a red line through a map, and start bulldozing anything in its path. If anyone opposes, that person mysteriously disappear and is never heard from again.

The "sucks to be you if you happen to live or have a business along the path, but it benefits society as a whole" method. Keeps costs and time down to minimal, and one can go from blueprint to operational status in a few years as opposed to a few decades.


Sounds like the Chinese method is working great to get things done in a short time. Can I vote for an authoritarian single-party Communist rule until the job gets done? :D

NONIMBYS said...

No we dont need a single Fox news type party.all we need is less crybabie whinney Nimbys and go back to the time when the USA would get things done as a group instead of letting every little selfish nimby cry about the terrible pains they will endure

David Archbold said...

To Anon,

I would suggest that the 30% book their flights intelligently. Its not impossible to know that a flight arrives at a particular airport and the connections from there. Why do you keep backing the train up to pick up more passengers that are going everywhere we aren't?

AndyDuncan said...

To give you statistics, the number of passengers that passed through LAX last year was roughly 60 million. Approximately 70% of passengers use LAX as O-D (origin-destination). The separation of domestic and international airports works perfectly fine for them.

It's the remaining 30%, or 18 million passengers at LAX that are gonna feel the pain the in the butt for connecting crosstown between LAX and Ontario.


If we can move even half of that 70% out of LAX, you could then have plenty of international flights and connections running out of LAX.

Even just moving southwest out of LAX would provide nearly a whole terminal's worth of capacity.

We're not Tokyo, we already have six airports with various levels of international and domestic service. We don't have to ban domestic service from LAX to see the benefits of having more domestic flights at ONT.

But let's turn it around, if having all your domestic and international flights out of one airport is a great idea, then why don't we shut down all our other airports and fly everything out of LAX?

How much capacity would be left for international flights then?

LAX is big enough to have plenty of connecting domestic flights available to international passengers even with half the domestic flights it has today.

You said it yourself, 70% of the passengers at LAX are going to or coming from LA. ONT isn't big enough to handle that many passengers, and Palmdale probably isn't going to happen for 50 years. There will be plenty of connections available at LAX for as long as it's an airport.

Paul Peterson said...

The aesthetics of University City? What aesthetics? Wide boulevards with ugly tract condos/homes. Man it's ugly there. A train could only do it some good.

Anonymous said...

I have a simple solution:

Low cost carriers (Southwest,JetBlue, Virgin America, Spirit, SunCountry, Midwest, etc.) should all move to Ontario

LAX should be kept for the big global alliances: the legacy carriers (American, United, Delta, etc) and their int'l carriers.

Anonymous said...

I'm another anon, #37534.

Gimme a break, half the current HSR plan through urban areas is expensively elevated, trenched, or tunneled, but somehow getting from LA Union to LAX isn't possible? A 30' ROW can fit 2 elevated HSR tracks, perhaps with some overlap (to accomodate safety walkways and cat poles) above the parallel roads or industrial properties that line the entire Harbor Line route needed.

But that isn't even the best option, instead the Green Line and Alameda Corridor should be the route for HSR into LAX. Convert the Green Line to a transit technology compatible with the planned HSR, basically whatever is chosen for SF-SJ. Add a short elevated segment above the Alameda Corridor freight rail trench, either 4 miles north to the Harbor Sub or 3 miles further north to the LA Union-Irvine HSR line. Extend the Green Line into LAX, convert the southwest end to LRT as an extension of the Harbor Sub LRT, and extend the east end a couple of miles to allow direct Irvine-LAX trains. Gets HSR directly to LAX cheaper than via the Harbor Sub, allows direct access to LAX by every HSR line when demand warrants, and greatly improves Green Line ridership by enhancing connectivity.

Sure there's details to work out, such as perhaps adjusting platform heights and clearances and removing or adapting to the existing 3rd rail. Yes, a constrained existing 2-track Green Line corridor will slow the express HSR trains behind all-stop locals, but only for 7 stations over less than 9 miles so the total HSR trip time is still less than for connecting to a Harbor Sub LRT/express DMU/express bus service. 20-30 minutes LAX-LA Union with no seat change (and much faster direct LAX to OC, Inland Empire, and San Diego) is the best option. Likely some NIMBY barking from the usual Compton political grifters, but why should they be allowed to thwart HSR if the Palo Alto NIMBYs are not?

Direct LAX HSR access and a converted, broken up, and extended Green Line would make a great Phase III project once the Sacramento and San Diego extensions are done.

Anonymous said...

Oops, looks like the Green Line isn't even 3rd rail, no biggie.

Daniel Krause said...

It appears that most folks making comments support a downtown San Diego station. Unfortunately, the political momentum in the San Diego area is to eliminate the downtown station in favor of an airport station. While I think there is merit considering a scenario where there would be both a downtown and airport station, it is absolutely necessary for the downtown station to happen for a successful project segment.

Comments are due for the scoping for the LA-SD section of the project-level eir-eis on Friday November 20th. Please consider sending a note to the following address and let them know a downtown San Diego needs to be preserved.

Mr. Dan Leavitt, Deputy Director
California High Speed Rail Authority
Attn: Los Angeles to San Diego via the Inland Empire Section EIR/EIS
925 L Street, Suite 1425
Sacramento, CA 95814

Rafael said...

@ Spokker -

30' is wide enough for two light rail tracks. For heavy rail, you need at least 34'. Small difference - until you need to exercise eminent domain along 15 miles, much of it through minority areas protected by environmental justice laws.

It may be possible to fit a third track in certain sections, allowing express trains to bypass slower locals if the timetable is designed properly.

In particular, it might make sense to run an LAUS-LAX non-stop shuttle with baggage check-in at LAUS. This would require segregated platforms to enable secure baggage handling.

Light rail to LAUS isn't at all trivial, though. For one thing, some aerials and tunneling would be required to get from Century/Aviation to the airport terminals (underground loop track, please!)

For another, the tracks would need to somehow connect to the new Gold Line Eastside Extension, e.g. near Alameda/1st. Note that LRT and heavy rail tracks are normally not even allowed to cross, though there are exceptions in e.g. south SF. Also, according to AndyDuncan, the LA Metro Blue Line tracks are pretty saturated as it is.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Daniel,
With due respect, your information is not accurate. Any political mention & support of HSR being at the airport had only one function.... to make an eastside airport terminal + super transit hub look more attractive.... as it was proposed by the Mayor and Steve Peace TO the airport authority.

Steve Peace also worked for the Padres owner... who had realestate interests on the eastside of the airport.

The airport authority did not take the bait.

A political push for HSR being at the airport... if it still remains... would still have roots in trying to persuade the airport authority to relocate those terminals.

Additionally...

No one outside of... maybe CCDC (the downtown redevelopment agency), would ever conceptually suggested getting rid of the downtown Santa Fe Depot. Anyone that did, would be political folly. No one has the political power to do so... even our Govenor.

Sante Fe Depot is owned by Catelus/Prologis...the development arm of UPRR. And, Amtrak and the Coaster run service to the airport... which are quite successful. A terminus at the airport would defeat that success. A Trolley connection would be insufficient at bridging the gap.

Daniel Krause said...

Actually Lynn Schenk, board member of the CAHSR Authority, clearly stated at an Authority meeting that there was a developing "consensus" in San Diego for locating the HSR station at the airport. I also talked to Dan Leavitt of the Authority and he confirmed that this is the direction they are getting from the San Diego leadership and he seemed to support the concept. Also talked to the lead consultant for the LA-SD section, and he confirmed that it was his understanding that the airport station had the most momumentum.

I have also heard that it in the news as well. While I hope Brandon in SD is right about the motive behind pomoting the airport location (and that is is not much to worry about), I for one am going to take this the possible move to the airport in lieu of a downtown station seriously and that is why support for the downtown station needs to be voiced consistenty.