Monday, January 26, 2009

Gavin Newsom's TGV Trip

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

San Francisco mayor and candidate for California governor Gavin Newsom is in France this week and toured the TGV, hoping to boost his profile on sustainable transportation. He also took the occasion to reiterate support for an HSR tunnel to the Transbay Terminal:

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom took a tour of the French high speed rail system (TGV) in Paris Monday and said that California's new version of the train is a "requirement" for the Transbay Terminal being planned for San Francisco's South of Market area.

"Since the onset of this project, I have been committed to the grand vision of Transbay, including high speed rail, a downtown extension for Caltrain and the visionary multi-use terminal itself," Newsom said. "Including the rail box as part of the terminal construction is necessary for this grand vision to be realized."...

Newsom's office has said that the plans are not certain as to whether the rail would come into the Transbay Terminal. He said it was vital that it did.

“We’re not going to build a $2 billion bus station under my watch,” said Newsom.

The Transbay Joint Powers Board, which oversees development of the Transbay Terminal, has considered building the first phase of the new terminal without the train terminal, and coming back later to excavate under the terminal and build for high speed rail only if subsequent funding materializes.

On Monday, Newsom came out against that idea, suggesting that the Transbay Joint Powers Board should not move forward on construction of the new transit center until funding is secured for the inclusion of high speed rail and it is fully integrated into the first phase of the project.

We've been calling for someone in San Francisco to assert some leadership on this and while it's great that Newsom is stepping up, the fact is that he does not bring much to the table in terms of financing. If he can get Senators Feinstein or Boxer to step up with including funding for the train box and tunnel in the stimulus, that would be fantastic. Newsom and Obama have a famously frosty relationship so that's not likely to help matters. Still, if Newsom can play a mediative role between the Transbay JPB and the CHSRA that would be helpful.

Newsom also said that the DTX and the train box would be ideal targets of an Obama stimulus. Unfortunately those chances appear to be receding. The DeFazio amendment I wrote about last night has been withdrawn:

We received word this afternoon that Rep. DeFazio's amendment that would have provided $2 billion in assistance to transit agencies was required to be withdrawn. We'll post more as we learn it, but had something to do with parliamentary issues.

There's reports out there that Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, is planning to offer an amendment to the stimulus that would add as much as $10 billion in rail funding. I don't know the details on that, but you'll surely get them as soon as I do.


Anonymous said...

heres the link to the article from france with the comments section - deniers and sf haters mostly.

BruceMcF said...

I read at, I believe, SmartGrowthAmerica that the Nadler amendment is $3b.

And of course the Senate has cut bus transit and rail down to $9.5b, and if things are par for the course, that will be the same $6b for buses as the House bill and rail cut back from $4b to $3.5b.

Alex M. said...

At least someone high up is finally getting word out that the trainbox needs to be built at the same time as the rest of the TTC.

“We’re not going to build a $2 billion bus station under my watch,”

...perfect quote because that's exactly what it'll be if the trainbox isn't built at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the off-topic plug, but with over a week delay compared to what I 'advertised' to Rafael, I posted my account of Railjetting into Red Bull Country over at European Tribune.

Also, an update on an older discussion topic. In the comments of Thunder Alley, Rafael linked to a YouTube video shot in Lausanne/Switzerland, which demonstrated how standby noise can be a problem too: you hear how the pretty loud air compressor of a parked first-generation TGV switches on automatically.

Now I read good news on that: last October, SNCF odered new air compressors for the trains. (See details in railway insider story; there's also the Faiveley press release (with imperfect English) and Railway Gazette mention.)

Rafael said...

@ DoDo -

thanks for the article on railjet. Sounds like they still have some kinks to iron out (rattling plastic on a new train? come on!), in addition to providing on-board broadband internet access at some point.

Wrt the economy class seats, lack of a footrest seems like a false economy. Fortunately, none of the planned routes will require five-hour trips.

The new compressors for the TGV trainsets will be used on the domestic Sud-Est line. Not sure if they will also be used on the TGV Lyria service to Switzerland. There's also no mention of sound levels, only the higher reliability that comes with eliminating the oil circuit.

Perhaps at some point in the next decade the Electronic Wedge Brake technology currently under development for passenger car applications will find its way into heavier vehicles such as HDVs and passenger trains, completely eliminating the need for a pneumatic system for the brakes.

Anonymous said...

My own trip was 5 hours 48 minutes, and the full trip to Munich is 7 hours 24 minutes; so I don't understand that comment. (Or were you speaking about the CAHSR?)

The compressors are for TGV Sud-Est = TGV PSE trains, which were built for the LGV Sud-Est line, but go beyond it. Lyria service beyond Geneva is shouldered by the Switzerland-compatible TGV Sud-Est subseries 110.

You are right, none of the articles I linked makes the noise reduction explicit, but the IRJ version does, as well as this product info. Newer compressors are definitely quiter, must be noise insulation and more precise design (->less vibrations), especially the screw compressors deployed in the closed machine rooms of modern locos -- but I see Faiveley's is still a piston compressor.

On the EWB, amazing technology. I note that for modern EMUs for AC networks, the pneumatic brake is already more for emergency as the most fail-safe system: the Stadler FLIRTs or the Bombardier Talents do most of the braking with dynamic braking. (When we tested one of these, the manufacturer's representative said that we used the pneumatic more that it will be used in its entire service life.)

Alon Levy said...

DoDo, who's "We"? Do you work for DB or something?