Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Open Thread

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

Busy Sunday for me, so please use this as an open thread for anything HSR related.

I do also want to give an update on the new site. I'd like to invite you all to come test the new California High Speed Rail Blog. Right now there's a test post, and a copy of yesterday's post on LA-SD scoping comments. Please take a look around and leave a comment about what you think, especially in terms of layout. I will be making the final switchover during the Thanksgiving break.

Some notes:

1. The header needs to be fixed. I have barely any CSS or PHP skills, and I need to find a way to move the search box into the menubar and render the header image in the CSS properly. Help on this would be greatly appreciated.

2. ALL posts and comments from this blog will be imported over to the new one. Until yesterday I had been keeping a running import of all posts and comments, but the most recent update import wound up duplicating all existing posts. So I decided that the easiest thing to do will be to import everything at once, during the upcoming long weekend. Nothing from this blog - not one post, not one comment - will be lost.

3. This site will be kept as an archive, but no new posts or comments will be made.

4. You may wish to register your username. I am not going to require people be registered to post, but I will prevent people from using "Anonymous" as a username. Pick something, even if it's a pseudonym.

5. Any unforeseen problems may result in delay of switchover.

66 comments:

Andre Peretti said...

One of the Boycott-French-Rail sites. This one claims to be U.S. and targets Alstom.
Boycott Alstom
They exist in all languages and some are very virulent.

Anonymous said...

I kind of like this blogger site better than the new one. Sure the comment discussions are better, but as of now, the other site contains nearly the same items in general. I like how this blogger seems much more clean and polished compared to the new site.

If I were you, I would try and learn CSS and PHP before switching over to new site. That way, the new site can seem much more professional and polished once a switch is made. As it now stands, the new site doesn't seem as serious of a blog with its look. It seems a bit lackluster..

That's my two cents.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Interesting link, Andre. I wouldn't be surprised if that was US-based. Israel/Palestine issues can be, and often are, debated with virulence that makes the debate between HSR supporters and Peninsula NIMBYs look like afternoon tea.

I strongly doubt this would have any impact whatsoever on whether CHSRA chooses Alstom or not, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some folks make an issue out of it when the RFP goes out.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Thanks for the comments, anon. I don't necessarily disagree with you about the look. I'm not entirely pleased with the look at the new site, one reason I've been sitting on it for a month. I haven't been able to find a design that gives me what I want (I would really like it to look like Seattle Transit Blog, which has the kind of clean and polished layout I prefer).

Peter said...

Re Alstom

Yeah, I don't see that being made a very big issue. Especially given that by the time CAHSR gets around to selecting a train manufacturer, this will have long blown over.

Joseph E said...

I have been reading this site as well as the CalTrain-HSR Compatibility Blog since Nov 2008. However, as a resident of Los Angeles County, I have been wondering how Metrolink and the Amtrak Surfliner will integrate with with HSR. Is anyone advocating for a 4-track alignment thru LA to OC? Electrifying Metrolink and grade-separations would mean up to 125 mph regional rail. Even with stations every 2 miles, we could get from LA to Anaheim in 26 minutes, almost as fast as express HSR. On the other hand, Metrolink at grade leads to 50 minute trip times, frequent acidents and long gaps between trains due to freight traffic. Metrolink needs HSR even more than Caltrain does.

Daniel Krause said...

The width of the embedded letter does not entirely fit within the box. Not sure if that is a layout issue with the new site, or whether doc just needs to be reduced in size.

Joey said...

@Joseph E

I think the main thing is that Metrolink itself has no plans for upgrades/electrification, whereas CalTrain has been pushing plans for years. The four track shared system lends itself well to corridors which have both express and local commuter trains, which Metrolink has no plans for. I'll throw in the fact that Metrolink has no plans to switch to non-FRA compliant rolling stock, meaning that a long term mixed-use waiver would have to be issued, and the fact that there are still a decent amount of freight operations, during the day, on most of Metrolink's tracks. In comparison, CalTrain plans to, and has been planning to for a long time, use non-compliant rolling stock, and freight trains only run up the peninsula at night, when no passenger trains run. That being said, I think implementing those types of upgrades on Metrolink would be a very good thing, but without local backing, what I say means little.

David S said...

I think the general layout/theme of the new site is fine and adequately professional, but the header image itself needs polish. In terms of the search bar, is there a search widget you can install into the right side bar instead of having it in the header? If so, it's relatively trivial to remove it from the theme file.

Spokker said...

OCTA officially canceled its rapid bus implementation. When ARTIC opens it's much more likely to be serviced with the same old crappy bus service we have now.

They have opted to spend the money on signal synchronization instead, which won't do much for local buses that have erratic performance.

All ABOARD! said...
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Rafael said...

@ Joseph E -

please see the Alignment Alternatives Report for LA-Anaheim for details regarding the grade separations that HSR will bring in the LOSSAN corridor.

In general, the HSR project strives to grade separate entire corridors, rather than just the new HSR tracks. However, in some locations, e.g. in a short stretch just south of Fullerton, CHSRA is considering grade separation for HSR only to avoid having to widen the right of way via eminent domain.

What HSR will not do is add track capacity for Amtrak Pacific Surfliner or Metrolink to use. Given that the top speed of HSR trains in this corridor will be 110mph, this is a reflection of FRA rules prohibiting mixed traffic.

In the SF peninsula, PCJPB owns the tracks and there is very little heavy freight traffic. The mixed traffic waiver Caltrain is seeking therefore relates mostly to its own fleet, which would take some number of years to cut over to lightweight non-compliant EMUs.

In the LOSSAN corridor, the stretch between Redondo Junction and Fullerton is owned by BNSF and sees a lot of heavy freight traffic in and out of the LA/LB harbors. There would be a lot of transportation value in allowing Amtrak and Metrolink trains onto the HSR tracks when they're not being fully utilized, but these operators would probably also have to switch to lightweight, i.e. non-compliant, equipment first to avoid damaging the HSR tracks over time.

The trouble is that neither Amtrak nor Metrolink have the funding they need to implement PTC throughout their networks, so they're limited to operating FRA-compliant equipment in the portions where they can't leverage the HSR project for that purpose. Without upgraded signaling (both trackside and in-cab) for all ROW users, no mixed traffic waiver is even conceivable.

FRA does allow mixed traffic if there is guaranteed time separation, but without PTC the amount of separation has to be very generous to maintain safety. In the LOSSAN corridor, the corresponding loss of capacity would not be acceptable.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Early reviews on new site: most people like it, a good number of folks think some changes to color scheme are in order (and I agree), so I'll try and get working on those over the next few days.

Dan, thanks for the note about the Scribd document. It renders fine in my browsers (Camino 2.0 and Safari 4.0). However, I know there is a special Scribd embed code for WordPress - the one that's over there now was a close of the HTML for the post here at the Blogger site.

Jim in scruz said...

I saw this mentioned in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Saturday and was kind of shocked not to see it mentioned. Or if it was, I'm not shocked that I missed it.

There is an online petition now asking that Caltrain have a 5mph slow order between San Antonio and California Ave.

In my mind that's a non starter. A quick look at google earth shows that it's about 2.3 miles between the two (with Meadow nearly centered). Quick bit of math says that it would take 40 minutes to cover it. A little bit more math puts a 20 to nearly 60 percent penalty on the SJ-SF timetable. Yikes.

I grew up in Palo Alto and went to Gunn (85) - and it boogles my mind that this is going on. I guess the pressures of growing up are different now.

My solution - fast track the grade seperation for Meadow. It's going to happen anyway and in this case the sooner the better.

Peter said...

@ Jim in Scruz

I'm not surprised by the petition. But wow, they're taking a completely unrealistic approach to it. A slow order is going to be completely out of the question.

I agree that fast-tracking (no pun intended) a grade separation is in fact the best way to approach that suicide hot spot. What are in fact the plans for that location?

All ABOARD! said...

Did you read the comments from san bernadino on the new blog. HSR should really really go there.

Peter said...

Since this is an open thread, has anyone seen the VTA Light Rail System Analysis they just released?

VTA Light Rail System Analysis

All ABOARD! said...

One problem with light rail, including sf muni, is that its usually just a bit to slow because it operates as a streetcar with close together stops and frequent intersections. There needs to be a solution that lies between light rail and metro, like light rail thats grade separated or something.

Spokker said...

The Caltrain suicide prevention people are irrational.

If the trains slowed to 5 MPH the suicides would just happen somewhere else. Caltrain has nothing to do with it. The agency, their riders and especially the engineers are victims too, who share some part of the burden. The solution is likely more and better mental health facilities, not child-proofing out world because Joey can't handle being a teenager anymore.

Peter said...

@ All Aboard

Hence why they are planning to speed up Light Rail through downtown San Jose, possibly (hopefully) through double-tracking along First Street by eliminating the cross-overs, and increasing the max speed to 20 mph through the "Downtown Transit Mall." I think that means everything between Convention Center and the tunnel on First St.

Also crucial will be the implementation of Express Service on 87. And upgrading the max speed from 55 to 65 mph.

I think that the "Short T" looks like the best improvement on Tasman, especially with an intermodal with ACE/CC.

Rafael said...

@ All Aboard -

AB3034(2008) sets a limit of 24 stations for the network. Anything over and above that cannot leverage prop 1A(2008) funds for construction. Planning is more fungible, they are after all using the money to plan the Altamont Corridor...

Since we're at 25 stations as it is (sans Hanford), adding San Bernardino to the list is beyond the scope of AB3034(2008) unless another station is sacrificed. City of Industry is a good candidate, but Pomona is mustard-keen to have that one, which makes sense IFF that city ends up on the route.

Beyond that, either the University City or the RWC/PA/MV mid-peninsula stop would have to be sacrificed to permit one in San Bernardino. There's an outside chance a stop in downtown Stockton will prove infeasible if UPRR sticks to its guns.

Even if the hurdle of the total number of stations can be cleared, I suspect San Bernardino would still not end up on the main line between LA and San Diego, it's simply really hard to reach.

Option 1: no station in San Bernardino

Option 2: San Bernardino county settles for a station west of downtown (e.g. Bloomington) and aggressively pursues transit-oriented development of a brand-new mixed use district there. This is only possible if CHSRA sticks with the original plan of running tracks east well beyond I-15 before tacking south toward UC Riverside.

Option 3: a downtown San Bernardino station could be on a spur off the main line that could be extended toward Victorville and/or Phoenix at a much later date. This would require additional track construction and modifications to the service pattern.

Option 4: San Bernardino develops connecting rapid transit to the Ontario airport and/or UC Riverside stations. Exactly what form that would take depends on exactly where the HSR stations end up and possibly, on how the three terminals at Ontario airport are connected to the HSR station there.

Which option makes the most sense depends on available funding, environmental considerations for track construction and train operations (no tunnels please), the incremental traffic volume San Bernardino could generate and on where passengers would be headed.

Peter said...

@ Spokker

That's kind of callous.

Studies HAVE shown that they in fact do NOT change to a different location if their location of choice is inaccessible (or not easily accessible). Otherwise we would see suicides spread out. The Gunn High School kids are committing suicide in an emotionally significant location, not picking a random spot and means for suicide. Make that location hard to get to, and you'll see an immediate drop.

Spokker said...

Wait until the residents start bitching about tall fences and razor wire. I wonder how much they'll care about suicide then.

All ABOARD! said...

@rafale. short of getting hsr at SNB, then they could still do TOD around a downtown metrolink station and advocate for a 110 metrolink line from LA to PSP.

(im getting a fast train to PSP if its the last thing I do)

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

VTA isn't going to have any money to improve light rail for a very long time. The BART extension will consume all available funds and then some.

What would make sense is improving the situation in Mountain View in the context of the HSR project. Currently, the VTA light rail line is single track between just south-east of the Caltrain station to just north-west of Central Expressway, severely limiting service frequency.

Since there's not enough room in the PCJPB right of way for Caltrain + VTA light rail + HSR side-by-side anyhow, an appropriate vertical stacking solution will have to be identified. Ideally, Caltrain + HSR should go underground and VTA be double-tracked in this section.

If it's done right, there should be enough room left for a stop lane for southbound buses on Central Expressway. A stop for northbound buses could be accommodated after moving the left turn lane to the available median. This combination would reduce bus traffic across the railroad right of way/increase bus service capacity.

An underground island or two side platforms for Caltrain should be feasible in the available ROW, even with HSR tracks. Siting the mid-peninsula HSR station in Mountain View might make a lot of sense in terms of connecting transit, but it would require putting either a track or a platform under the right southbound lane of Central Expressway. Similar excavation would be required on the downtown side, i.e. the existing station building would have to be sacrificed.

In addition, space would have to be found for a multi-story car park, possibly after relocating the Santa Clara social services agency diagonally across from the station, on Moffett Blvd.

Peter said...

@ Rafael

I wouldn't be surprised if VTA didn't pull the money from the Eastridge extension and put it into the other upgrades. In the study, they state that none of the stations on the Eastridge and Vasona extensions will not meet their sustainability goals of 2035 (+/-) boardings per day. The money earmarked for those could easily be funnelled into the other, more effective, upgrades.

All ABOARD! said...

do we have an idea yet of whether hsr will roughly follow the 10 or the 61? also out to the 215 is a must.

wait hold on there is are two connecting rows that meed in dt SNB just west but still adjacent to the amtrak station there. hsr should go like this using these two existing passenger rows, dt snb to dt riv.

how many minutes would this add to the lax-san time? 10?

All ABOARD! said...

oh Obama was just on a press conference, on jobs, the first thing he mentioned was high speed rail, so clearly its something that he is keeping at the top of his list. Other than defense spending, I can't think of anything more useful and more job creating than national rail upgrades of all kinds.

Rafael said...

@ All Aboard -

streetcar: no grade separations, slow, limited train length

light rail: fully grade separated (mostly above grade), overhead catenaries, fast, long trains possible

subways: fully grade separated (mostly below grade), third rail, fast, long trains

The half-way house you're suggesting is a partially grade-separated streetcar service. Both SF and SJ have this today. It allows trains to go through hills, over/under heavy rail tracks and past rush hour traffic, but train length is still limited by the sections in streetcar mode.

A number of cities around the world have implemented light rail systems based on inverted monorails rather than conventional elevated structures. The Germans variously call them Schwebebahn or Hochbahn, in English they're sometimes called aerobus systems. They're very cost-efficient but there's always the risk that some extra-tall vehicle will block the right of way.

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

"money from the Eastridge extension"

Ha, good one. I'm telling you, every penny VTA has will be going toward BART for a very long time. Everything else is a paper tiger.

All ABOARD! said...

So far every light rail system built in the us appears not to be grade separated

san, sjc,sfc,pdx, den, phx, bos, as well as plans in abq, sea, and others.

Im not finding any grade separated light rail in america.

Matthew said...

@Jim: The most recent segments of the San Diego system - the green line between Old Town and Grossmont Center - are entirely grade separated, except for the very first intersection (at the Old Town station). The new Mid-Coast extension will be as well.

Matthew said...

@Cruickshank: A design magazine I follow (because I have absolutely no sense of design myself, I need a lot of inspiration) had an article highlighting some very good free Wordpress themes. The article itself highlights 40, and links to another highlighting 100.

Rafael said...

@ All Aboard -

I doubt anyone will have any money to upgrade the Metrolink San Bernardino line to 110mph in addition to getting the express HSR tracks between LA and SD built.

As for Palm Springs (please stop using Amtrak abbreviations ;-) The Metrolink San Bernardino line could possible be extended east by leveraging the spur that runs east to Redlands and constructing a connector south to the UPRR Colton line at California St..

However, UPRR may not be interested in hosting any additional passenger trains at all beyond the existing Sunset Limited in the section east of Colton. An additional daily Amtrak California service between Los Angeles Union Station and Coachella might be worth considering, but someone would have to invest a little bit of money in stations and sidings.

All ABOARD! said...

okay thanksgiving travelers, this is hell week, please show up early, get your tickets early and remain calm and have your ids ready. travel light.

Rafael said...

@ All Aboard -

In SF, the section under Market street is grade separated. The Central Subway will be between 4th & King and Chinatown.

The VTA light rail line between SJ Diridon and Santa Teresa is almost completely grade separated.

In LA, the Green and Gold line are partially grade separated.

With third rail, electrical safety requires 100% grade separation. With OCS, you can be anywhere from 0% to 100% grade separated. Urban planners like that kind of flexibility, because it lets them punt when funding is tight or the local environmental situation makes grade separation too difficult, at least initially.

Anonymous said...

Currently, the VTA light rail line is single track between just south-east of the Caltrain station to just north-west of Central Expressway, severely limiting service frequency.

Poppycock. VTA runs at nowhere near the service frequency required for that to turn into a bottleneck.

Rafael said...

@ All Aboard -

"Other than defense spending, I can't think of anything more useful [...]"

That sounds like "military intelligence" to me.

The conventional War on Terror needs to be called off because it's been a bust, the fight against terrorism needs to be waged by other means. What the US should do is recall its regular troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan and spend 1/10th of the run rates of those wars on civilian infrastructure projects (with local subcontractors!), 1/10th on interfaith dialogue and another 1/10 on undercover policing/drones/special forces. The other 70% don't need to be spend any longer.

Once the wars are declared over, Congress needs to reduce regular defense spending from the current $520b/yr back to pre-Bush levels (~$200b/yr). Pleading the end of the Cold War and poverty, it must persuade its allies to shoulder more of the burden of collective defense, though they may choose to do so with a mix of hard and soft power.

Then, spend half of those savings on new sustainable civilian infrastructure: electric rail, smart grid, renewable electricity, Li-ion battery recycling, energy-efficient building retrofits.

As long as a stimulus is needed, the other half would be well spent on additional maintenance/replacement of existing infrastructure as well as natural disaster prevention, i.e. preparations to control and fight wildfires, effective seismic retrofits for buildings, eminent domain against residential properties recently destroyed by predictable severe weather events etc.

Just about anything yields more lasting value than developing new weapons systems so sophisticated enemies have no choice but to engage in asymmetric warfare.

Spokker said...

The Green Line in LA is fully grade separated because it runs in the median of a freeway. It's still low ridership because it misses an airport and a Metrolink station on either side of the route. Also, waiting at freeway stations is very, very uncomfortable.

The line came to be because a compromise was struck between those who were building the Century Freeway and low income neighborhoods. Basically, the Green Line was the bargaining chip that got the freeway built. Little thought was put into its alignment other than that it had to follow the follow. Hence, historically low ridership.

The Gold Line is less grade separated than not. South of Union Station it's street running with a 1.7 mile tunnel segment, and North of Union Station it mostly follows an old Santa Fe semi-exclusive right of way, with some freeway running at the end.

The Gold Line, even more so now that the Eastside Extension is open, is really a vivid symbol of the versatility of light rail.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 2:25pm -

afaik, VTA light rail runs 3-4 trains an hour out of Mountain View and that's about all the single track section can handle. Ridership at that station is currently low because the transfer delays are often unacceptably long. Double tracking would easily permit 10tph, though sometime before then the grade crossing at Central Expressway would become an issue.

Any additional trains should perhaps ply a new route between MV and Alum Rock, avoiding downtown altogether.

Peter said...

@ Rafael, Anon @ 2:25

It's the chicken and the egg problem. You have low ridership because the service level is low. You have a low service level because the ridership is low.

However, unlike the chicken and the egg problem, it's one that CAN be solved. If you double-track that stretch and implement express trains like the ones they were studying, the ridership will improve.

Otherwise, it will continue to be a bust.

Peter said...

@ Rafael

"Any additional trains should perhaps ply a new route between MV and Alum Rock, avoiding downtown altogether."

And that is one of the options being studied.

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

"If you double-track that stretch [...]"

Right, and I believe the HSR project will make that possible by putting the heavy rail tracks underground while leaving the light rail tracks at grade, with plenty of room for double-tracking. With all the overpasses in the area, elevated tracks aren't really an option for any of the rail services.

However, Stevens Creek is going to present a problem for any plan to construct a trench. Light rail could tunnel under Central and the creek, but keeping heavy rail at grade would create a major headache at the Castro/Central intersection. Perhaps Clem will do a Focus On: Mountain View sometime soon.

Peter said...

@ Rafael

Looking at the Mountain View station on Google Maps, I think it would be possible to squeeze four heavy rail plus two light rail tracks through there. If need be, relocate Central Expressway by a few feet, set up an island platform between the southern VTA track and the northern Caltrain track, build an outside platform for the northern VTA track, shift the southern Caltrain platform south by a few feet, and presto, there you go.

Or, even better, just put VTA on an aerial from Whisman station to Mountain View. Preferably on the Central Expressway median.

Peter said...

Or I have no idea what I'm talking about and should shut up now.

Alon Levy said...

Rafael, the stated cost of bringing PTC to Metrolink was $160 million. The extra cost of electrification is approximately zero, since HSR would need electrification anyway. The ridership difference between LA-style commuter rail and an S-Bahn along the HSR routes should more than make up for the extra costs.

Joey said...

because Joey can't handle being a teenager anymore.

hey...

On San Bernardino - perhaps it could be served with a Y spur that would allow trains to detour and stop without terminating. Something like this

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

except at the MV station itself, the ROW is 85 feet wide in the area. Barely enough for five tracks but not enough for six. Eliminating the Central Expressway median would create some extra width, but the support columns for the CA-85 overpass would still be a problem.

So would the need for full grade separation of Castro and Rengstorff if the heavy rail services remain at grade. Deep under- or tall overpasses would have massive impacts on traffic patterns in the area, especially at Castro.

Rafael said...

@ Alon Levy -

the question is: which tracks would this S-Bahn run on?

CHSRA's plans for LOSSAN call for two HSR tracks next to the FRA-compliant tracks, used by BNSF/Amtrak/Metrolink. Electrifying those as well would indeed not cost all that much, since so much of the cost is in setting up the substations. However, the HSR project will only ever electrify the rights of way it operates in itself, so we're talking Lancaster to Palmdale and Sylmar to Anaheim (to Irvine).

Both Amtrak and Metrolink use a lot of other track as well, so unless additional money were forthcoming they'd have to use awkward dual mode gear just to reduce diesel emissions a little bit. By the time all this goes live, EPA Tier 4 will be in effect and it'll be cheaper for them to cut emissions that way.

Of greater interest would be the option of running Metrolink-branded non-compliant local trains with high acceleration but limited top speed on the HSR tracks. The issue here is that they must not hold up express trains, which translates to letting them pass by at stations. There isn't enough room for six tracks in most cases, so these locals would have to make brief excursions back to the legacy freight tracks, sections of which would have to be electrified in this scenario. Track order in the right of way would also become a significant issue.

The main problem is that mixed traffic gives FRA and preumably, BNSF, the heebie jeebies.

Sticking with FRA-compliant gear for the S-Bahn would also require a waiver, except this time it would be for running on the HSR tracks. Slab track construction could probably handle the extra weight without additional maintenance, but it's expensive to build and some researchers suspect DB's extensive use of this technology could be related to the premature fatigue problems with that operator's ICE-3 and ICE-TD trainsets.

A further development called slab track with mass-spring systems makes for a more flexible foundation for the tracks, but it's even more expensive and normally only used for stuff like base tunnels through the Alps.

Rafael said...

@ Joey -

interesting idea, but we're really looking for a solution that gives San Bernardino a run-through station, otherwise it can't be on the main line from LA to San Diego. Direction reversals add several minutes to line haul time.

Also note that the city is planning a new transit center at Rialto and E Street, a couple of blocks east of I-215.

They'd be hard pressed to come up with a location that's even harder for HSR tracks to reach.

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joey said...

Just to clarify - why do train reversals take so long?

A run-through alignment might be possible, but only under one of two conditions: (a) acting as a detour off the main line with a relatively sharp curve just east of the station (since all trains on this detour would stop the sharp curve wouldn't matter so much) or (b) Large amount of property takes south of downtown San Bernardino to facilitate a wider curve acceptable for express trains. In either case, the tracks would probably run along the Metrolink San Bernardino route east of I-15 (splitting or curving after Ontario Airport).

Anonymous said...

I don't know why it's either light rail or metro here in the states. How about just regular electrified commuter rail, like the ones they have in Japan? Is it that hard? Take for example, the JR Yamanote Line that goes in a circular path around inner Tokyo withevery train coming every two minutes. The Chuo Line that bisects the city. The Keihin Tohoku Line that connects Yokohama to upper Tokyo. Etc, etc.

Joey said...

Tokyo has a subway metro too, in case you're forgetting, which, IIRC, is denser than the commuter rail lines within the city.

All ABOARD! said...

@RAfael-
sometimes I assume people know what I mean when Im not specific, when I made the defense spending comment I was thinking more in 1980s terms
(because to me its still the 80s)

so I meant, defense jobs as in what used to be a huge aerospace industry in california. The combination of aerospace/engineering/research and a zillion military bases provided a huge and constant economic boost to cali. of course that we then.

Had I looked at a recent calendar id be reminded that bases are long since closed, we never built star wars defense, and I think we buy our military planes and ships from, like china or mexico or god knows where.

I didn't mean defense spending a la the bush-obama way. where the money just evaporates into thin air and creates nothing but an echoing sound inside our empty treasury.

All ABOARD! said...

(especially in the socal economy which was built entirely on entertainment, defense, and the tanning industry.)

Alon Levy said...

Rafael, there's no need for dual-mode locomotives, or FRA-compliant anything. If Caltrain can get a waiver, so can Metrolink - and this assumes that such a waiver will even be necessary once BNSF switches to PTC in 2015.

There's no reason to send any S-Bahn further north than Santa Clarita, or even Sylmar. No legacy rail system could compete with HSR on Palmdale-LA, and Palmdale is not dense enough to generate rail traffic other than commuter trips to LA.

The trains would run on the local tracks, sharing track with freight. They might use the HSR tracks for passing, if there's enough space.

Adirondacker12800 said...

since so much of the cost is in setting up the substations.

Run twice as many trains you twice as much substation. The cost is going to be lower than double but it's going to be close. Same thing with catenary.

they'd have to use awkward dual mode gear just to reduce diesel emissions a little bit.

Why would they need dual mode locomotives? Diesel locomotives can run under wire. The reason for dual mode locomotives to get the diesel locomotives into places where ventilation is a concern.

Alon Levy said...

Why would you run diesels under wire when there's already a wire?

Adirondacker12800 said...

Why would you run diesels under wire when there's already a wire?

Because the wire ends. Kinda hard to get an electric train to go from Union Station to Riverside when the wire ends in Fullerton. Or have the electric train go to San Bernandino when the wire ends shortly after leaving Union Station.

All of Metrolink has less than 50,000 passengers a day. They aren't going to be electrifying lines for a long while.

Alon Levy said...

Yes, all of Metrolink, run as a diesel commuter railroad with a stop every 5 miles, a stub-end terminal, and an unpredictable schedule, gets 50,000 passengers per day. A Metrolink S-Bahn, with a stop every 2-3 miles, through-running from Sylmar to Anaheim, and either a clockface schedule or high enough a frequency for the schedule not to matter, would get more ridership.

Running commuter rail as if it were rapid transit really does boost ridership. Just look at Rockaway rail ridership before and after the A train took over from the LIRR. Nowadays those stations get a weekday ridership higher than this of the LIRR's Far Rockaway and Long Beach branches combined.

Adirondacker12800 said...

Running commuter rail as if it were rapid transit really does boost ridership.

But you don't need electricity anywhere in the system to do that. It would be very very expensive to do but it could be done. Was done on the Els until they were electrified.


Until the nether ends of the system have enough traffic to make catenary cost effective they can run straight diesels all the way to Union Station.

Joey said...

Don't forget that faster, cleaner, more modern systems attract more riders than outdated, slow diesels.

If you build it (intelligently), they will come.

Alon Levy said...

But you don't need electricity anywhere in the system to do that. It would be very very expensive to do but it could be done. Was done on the Els until they were electrified.

First, remember that the line I'm talking about is going to be electrified anyway because of HSR construction.

And yes, you do need electricity. One of the distinguishing features of S-Bahns and RERs, as opposed to ordinary commuter lines, is that they're fully electrified and double-tracked.

Even a hundred years ago, rapid transit needed electricity. The Manhattan els saw their ridership plummet after the subway opened, and people complained about the steam soot all the time and wanted to take them down. When they were electrified a few years later, ridership bounced back up for a while, buying those els 30-40 more years of operation.