Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Madrid-Barcelona in 6 Minutes (via YouTube)

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

luis d. in the comments has been linking to this video produced by RENFE advertising their new Madrid to Barcelona AVE service that opened in February. It's a great overview of the route, which passes through terrain that is VERY similar to that which our own HSR line will encounter:

RENFE also has a great YouTube channel with more excellent AVE videos.

I also like this because I have a soft spot for the AVE trains, which were the first HSR trains I ever rode. Seven years ago on a trip to Spain, we took the AVE from Madrid to Sevilla. I remember turning to my then-girlfriend as we pulled into Sevilla Santa Justa and saying "we have GOT to get one of these back in California." My own advocacy for HSR trains began that afternoon in December 2001. It also doesn't hurt that the video includes shots of Barcelona, which currently holds the title of "my favorite city in the world." If only I spoke Catalan...

Here in 2008, we have taken the most important step to making that dream a reality. So I dunno about you all, but this video gets me *really* excited about what our own HSR line will look like when it is finally built. Compare the above video to this one put out by the CHSRA, which you've seen before - I can't wait to see this computer simulation become as real as the video shown above.


luis d. said...

I'm glad you guys like the video, me I can't stop watching it. It gets me excited every time.

Like I said the landscape looks VERY much like California, with the fog, the hills, farmland and their colors, at around 2:40 you can even see windmills wich reminds me of the Altamont Pass wich won't actually see the line in California but you can see what I'm saying! You can pretend it's our system and it works, haha.

Unknown said...

That is so beautiful. Why is Spain, of all countries, 15-20 years ahead of us in rail transportation?

I honestly can't wait!

Spokker said...

"Why is Spain, of all countries, 15-20 years ahead of us in rail transportation?"

Because Spain didn't have a Texas.


Robert Cruickshank said...

I feel the same way, luis, which is why I decided to give it its own post. Not only does the landscape look like California - Spain's population density is very similar to California's. The Madrid-Barcelona air corridor is comparable to LA-SF, and the AVE trains have done a booming business on that route.

spokker, the irony about Spain is even the right-wing backs HSR. Much of the expansion of the system there was begun under the right-wing Partido Popular government, although Zapatero's PSOE has accelerated and augmented those projects.

As the US right-wing assess the aftermath of its across-the-board defeat in last week's elections, they might do well to reconsider their opposition to mass transit and passenger rail. The British Conservative Party is embracing HSR. If the party of Thatcher can do it certainly the party of Reagan can too - and Republicans like John Mica and Johnny Isakson are already advocating that position in the Congress.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I should add that another reason I posted this was to give more attention to RENFE's excellent use of YouTube to advertise its services. The CHSRA has had some decent uses of YouTube, primarily with the NC3D animations, and can't compete with RENFE which can show real people riding real trains. But it shows the direction the Authority ought to move as it ramps up its public communications as well as its planning.

Anonymous said...

Here are two more videos with some rather good music:

Eurostar St. Pancras

Alstom AGV

Rafael said...

The RENFE video would be even better if there were passengers on the train ... I'm guessing they filmed this during the acceptance testing period.

Here's a few more videos that may give you a better feel for the HSR experience:

ICE3 passing station at 186mph.

ICE3 entering tunnel at 186mph.

Shaky amateur video of TGV Duplex interior.

TGV maintenance yard with lifting apparatus for entire trainsets - needed because of the Jacobs trucks in-between the cars.

Wifi on Thalys via geostationary satellite (also available on TGV Est).

Caltrain terrestrial broadband would have permitted videoconferencing, FPS games etc. but was too complex and/or expensive for that reailroad to implement in commercial service.

Rafael said...

Air brakes on Fastech 360 (FFW to 1:20) provide additional stopping power in the event of earthquakes. The design is expected to enter commercial service at 360kph (224mph) in 2011.

That makes it a potential candidate for the California system, alongside the Kawasaki/Hitachi 700T(Taiwan), Alstom AGV, Siemens Velaro and Talgo 350.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful..should have been here NOW..I really dont understand why American/California has never demanded this. Some hard heads still think prop1A was a waste even if they see this!! thankfully California is changing

Anonymous said...

SF Bay Guardian has a nice story about the HST I like the part about
starting service by 2018..maby 2015on the SF-San Jose section!

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 7:14am -

from that SFBG piece:

"It'll come in pieces, but at some point it'll really come together," said Brent Ogden, vice president of AECOM Transportation, one of the project's contractors, who is working on the regional rail connection over Altamont Pass. While not part of the main project, for which Prop. 1A set aside $9 billion, the Altamont connection is eligible for part of the $1 billion in the measure earmarked for regional connections.

(emphasis added)

My understanding was that an HSR/commuter overlay for Northern California was "under consideration" - no more, no less. Note that extending broad-gauge BART south of Fremont Irvington would effectively preclude such an overlay.

The alternative would be to lay standard-gauge tracks and overhead catenaries along the exact same route. This would be cheaper to construct because many grade separations between east San Jose and Niles could be deferred. It would support Caltrain's future bi-level electric trains, which offer more capacity than BART ever will.

The unofficial tally so far has measure B in Santa Clara just a whisker shy of passing at 66.48%. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

Rafael said...

KRON 4 report on extending BART only as far as East SJ "for now".

Will someone please tell south city to take a step back and reconsider its options now that prop 1A has passed? Subway - yes! BART - no!

crzwdjk said...

Spain managed to extract lots of government revenue for infrastructure spending from its own housing bubble, which is how they managed to build so many high speed rail and subway lines. One interesting feature is that HSR and subway expansions tended to happen in 4 year cycles, matched with the federal and local election cycles respectively. I bet there would be a lot more political support for rail if the same politician that authorized the project could also be guaranteed to be at the ribbon-cutting. With our long and involved planning process, that's very rarely the case

Winston said...


The BART extension to San Jose wouldn't preclude extending HSR to San Jose. In fact, the routing used by BART would stink for such a system. It would be much more sensible to run HSR roughly along the shorter route that the Amtrak Capitols and ACE follow now. The ROW under consideration for BART takes a less direct (but more populated) route to that doesn't make sense for a high speed train.
This isn't to say that BART to San Jose is a good project - it isn't, but the ROW proposed to be used for the project is nothing special and even the people who propose "Caltrain East" abandon it after about 5 miles in favor of the Alviso line.

luis d. said...

Here's the latest map of the potential route's being considered for the extension of Bart to Livermore with possible future HSR alignments. They're getting creative with this map.


Anonymous said...

Why are you so obsessed by spanish high speed trains?!

Rafael said...

@ winston -

the point is that any future standard gauge HST/commuter overlay will need to get from Niles to at least Milpitas. If BART usurps any part of the WPML, there won't be any room left to lay tracks in that section of the alignment. It would basically kill any hope of ever running even moderately high speed trains up to Oakland or across Altamont pass.

The Bay Rail Alliance's Caltrain Metro East is a completely different proposal that calls for a new corridor past the SJC terminals and along Trimble Road across to Milpitas, then north to Niles via the WPML. It never gets anywhere near the Alviso line.

@ luis d. -

BART should not choose a solution that usurps any of the narrow UPRR corridor, since that would all but preclude a future HST/commuter overlay.

The Isabel/Stanley West via Jack London South alternative looks like the least intrusive option that would still permit an intermodal station with ACE (and future HST/commuter overlay, if any).

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 10:00am -

because unlike Japan and France, Spain resembles California in terms of both population density and terrain. Moreover, Spain will have more HSR track by 2010 than any other nation.

Brandon in California said...

News for me and you...

CHSRA Chairman does not think CHSRA needs to go to the proposed new Transbay Terminal to be succeful and says the Caltrain terminus at Fourth & Townsend is good enough!

That was his essential response in a SF Examiner article when asked about Prop 1A funds being used to fund a $1.1b extension to go 1.4 miles from the Fourth & Townsend location to the Transbay Terminal; ya know, the one that has been studied and studied for the past couple-few years.

I believe even a building proposal was scrapped to preserve the HSR/Caltrain alignment.

Ouch! I had ALWAYS assumed HSR would terminate at the downtown Transbay Terminal.

Unfortunately, I do not have a link to the article; only the email from the Yahoo CHSRA group. Nor could I locate the piece on the SF Examiner. So, here are some pertinent paragraghs:

Transbay Transit Center going off track

Pricey proposal: It would cost $2 billion to extend Caltrain to the planned Transbay Transit Center.

Statewide bullet trains have been presented by transit officials
as the silver bullet The City needs to finally bring rail transit
downtown, but some are questioning whether a necessary extension
should receive financial help from bonds for high-speed rail
approved by voters Nov. 4.

... that would necessitate a $2 billion, 1.3-mile extension of
Caltrain's tracks from their current terminus at Fourth and King
streets in Mission Bay to downtown's Transbay Transit Center at First and Mission streets, as well as a "train box" -- a massive space underneath the bus terminal big enough to hold six rail platforms and tracks -- that could later be tunneled into and developed into a station for Caltrain and high-speed trains.

Transbay Joint Powers Authority spokesman Adam Alberti said the
authority began lobbying for funds from the high-speed rail bond
in a letter issued last month.

But at least one authority has eschewed the possibility that high-
speed rail will pay for the extension.

"We do not need First and Mission. I am satisfied with Fourth and
Townsend," said Judge Quentin Kopp, chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority. "We are not going to pay an extra billion-plus dollars to take the high-speed rail an extra 1.4 miles."

Brandon in California said...

A do not disagree.

Kopps comments could also be a negotiating tactic to try and leverage other local funding sources to particpate in the project; MTC, Caltrain, Transbay Terminal Authority.

Which, actually should be the case because it seem inappropriate for the CHSRA to carry the full financial burden of the project. The Transbay Terminal project also looses much appeal if HSR does not serve it.

And, is it not a bit misleading for the CHSRA to commssion a vid of HSR at the Transbay terminal and then deny funding the project; at least in part?

Anonymous said...

^^^ Yeah, I read that too...wtf!?

It also sounds kinda like Kopp is acting like the kid who got the most candy for Halloween and has to keep the others at bay.

"you can have your subway, you just need to find your own way to pay for it"

They have been talking about this extension for at least the last 30 years. It seems unlikely to happen anytime soon, especially with MUNI digging it's own subway two blocks away for the next ten years (funded by a bond measure passed in 1988!).

Maybe SF should do it's own bond measure ala LA's measure R to fund the Geary subway, Central Subway extention to North Beach (on the surface of Columbus from the portal they plan to use to extract the TBMs, and the Caltrain extention all in one shot.

If they did it now, they actually might start building something by 2030 when HSR is set to be completed...MIGHT.

Rafael said...

@ brandon -

don't forget that Quentin Kopp is an old hand at both San Francisco and state politics. The funding plan for HSR has always assumed that "someone else" would pay for the Transbay Terminal and the Caltrain downtown extension (DTX). CHSRA also assumed that it would be allowed to use the DTX "for free", considering that it will pay for all of the grade separations along the SF peninsula and greatly reduce the cost of Caltrain electrification.

Kopp knows as well as anyone that 4th & King is unacceptable as the SF terminus for HSR, but he cannot afford any project bloat. Scraping together $33 billion is going to be hard enough as it is. Indeed, he's counting on $2-$3 billion from the cities and counties served.

Kopp also knows that SF mayor Gavin Newsom has mortgaged his political future on getting the new Transbay Terminal built and, that he's not going to get that funded unless it is served by both HSR and Caltrain. Apparently, Kopp thinks he's got Newsom by the short and curlies on this one. Expect some acrimony on the issue of who pays for the DTX tunnel for a good while.

Anonymous said...

IM fine with it a 4th and King
the N-judha .ballpark ect is there and it really could be greatly enlarged and look very nice with a large glass and steel trainshed like the Eurostar in London.The new TBT is nice but I dont want to see the project shorted just to bring it 1 more mile..plus I can get to 4th and king very fast!!

Brandon in California said...

I suspect statewide travelers may not care all that much about final terminal location, as long as it is in the proximity of their destination. And, Fourth and Townsend, or King, would suffice.

However, for daily commuters being required to make that additional transfer, with more time added to their commute, that final location WILL be a deciding factor in their use of the system.

Rafael said...

@ brandon -

it's true that passengers headed for downtown SF or the East Bay could transfer to BART at Millbrae, but that would undermine the downtown-to-downtown line haul time argument made in favor of HSR.

Passengers headed for the North Bay would be doubly penalized because of the long walk between Embarcadero BART and bus level of the TT. Note that at this point, the underground pedestrian passage along Fremont street is merely an optional extra for the DTX component of the TT project.

Anonymous said...

And I dont get how 6 tracks will take care of HSR and Caltrain..I think there are 6 platforms alone at 4th and king..Really I live here the last thing for the project is to get bogged down in SF politcs and games..The deniers will be out in force..get the trains to 4thand king to start
That 1200 foot tower was supposed to help pay for this..it may be years before its built..We need to get this going while the right people are in WashDC

Unknown said...

4th and King is unacceptable for both local and statewide travelers. At that location there is no BART connection, which makes it extremely difficult for the High-Speed Rail to serve the East Bay population centers. Further, Transbay is a "Grand Central of the West," emphasis on the central, which is supposed to combine the dozen transportation systems of SF. Not having strong connections to many transportation options undermines the goals of the project.

It is not fair for the CAHSR to pay for the tunnel alone, though. They probably will have to pay for some, but so will Caltrain, the city, the developer, and the federal government.

Rafael said...

@ yeson1A -

the planned 6 tracks in the basement of the new TT will be enough if some simple measures are taken to minimize turnaround time to just a few minutes.

These relate primarily to managing pedestrian queuing and flow on the platforms and along the aisles inside the trains. In addition, cleaning services for on-board restrooms and cabin areas as well as the cafe car logistics need to be organized into efficient brigades.

Everyone will have to do their part in this choreography, but it's entirely doable if passengers are presented with clear information on what they should do and why.

Anonymous said...

HSRA may not pay to reach downtown SF Transbay Transit Center
11/12 SF Examiner
Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:56 am

"We do not need First and Mission. I am satisfied with Fourth and
Townsend," said Judge Quentin Kopp, chairman of the High Speed Rail
Authority. "We are not going to pay an extra billion-plus dollars
to take the high-speed rail an extra 1.4 miles."

Other data:
"6 trains and platforms to be accommodated by proposed train
station under the new Transbay Transit Center"

Sounds awfully small to me...

Anonymous said...

The temporary transbay terminal is under construction now. The construction on the new terminal and rail extension is from 2012-2019. the first segment of of hsr - anaheim to sf is scheduled from completion 2020. they have timed everything to come together at once.

Anonymous said...

Jim: "The temporary transbay terminal is under construction now."

Really? I can see it from where I'm presently sitting. There is absolutely *no* construction going on whatsoever at the Transbay Terminal.

Can you elaborate?

Anonymous said...

It has always been my understanding that caltrain is going to TBT regardless of hsr that extension is the first phase of the tbt project

Anonymous said...

Notes from 9/10/08 Temporary Transbay Terminal Community Meeting
September 10th, 2008 · No Comments

The Transbay Temporary Terminal project will break ground on November 1st on the Rincon Hill neighborhood block bordered by Main, Howard, Beale, and Folsom Streets. The first phase is scheduled to be finished and begin operations by August 2009.

Anonymous said...

click here for more info : http://temporaryterminal.org/

Anonymous said...

the caltrain extension starts in 2012 and will be compatible with hsr.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jim.

Temporary terminal location -- That is really going to suck for AC transit transbay bus service. Those few blocks barely move during evening rush hour -- withou the TBT that skips over all the congestion between the terminal and the Bay Bridge, you could easily add 20 minutes to the trip.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 2:12pm -

that's probably why they decided to permanently close a bunch of parking lots in the area. If that doesn't deter enough drivers, they may resort to designating bus lanes on the approaches to the temporary terminal.

Perhaps the real issue here is that not enough commuters are willing to use buses to cross the Bay Bridge on their way to work. I'm not aware of any additional (guarded) parking lots being set up in the East Bay to facilitate that.

BART is overcrowded as it is during rush hour and, prop 1A funds may soon be spent on construction work to improve pedestrian flow capacity at the downtown SF stations.

Anonymous said...

I hope they keep the temp terminal clean and free of loiterers.