Sunday, February 8, 2009

Spain: AVE "Steals the Show"

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

As we've been focusing on the details of HSR funding or its implementation on the Peninsula, it's worth returning to the big picture - HSR's potential to transform transportation in California. Last week's issue of The Economist examined Spain's HSR success, showing how that country's heavy investment in high speed rail is paying significant rewards:

EARLY morning at Barcelona’s railway station and the platform crowd looks smarter than it would have done a year ago. But these are not ordinary weekday commuters. They are besuited businessmen heading for Madrid, almost 500km (310 miles) away. A sleek new high-speed AVE train will whisk them to the capital at speeds of up to 300kmph in plenty of time for their morning meetings.

The new passengers reflect a revolution in Spanish travel. Domestic airlines have lost a fifth of their passengers in the space of a year. And long-distance trains have gained almost a third.

It is not difficult to imagine that scene unfolding at LA Union Station or SF Transbay Terminal in ten years' time. The distances are about the same, and the traveler profile similar - there's plenty of business travel between LA and SF.

This shift is the consequence of an ambitious programme for high-speed rail. The streamlined AVE trains, with their sleek corridors, work tables and spectacular views, are stealing the show. Those used to the tedious taxi rides, security checks and crowded shuttle flights traditionally endured by Spanish businessmen will not be surprised. The opening of the Barcelona-Madrid line a year ago marked the beginning of the end of airlines’ dominance. In its first ten months it carried 2m passengers; in 2008 its share of the total market rose from 28% to 38%. Josep Valls, of the ESADE business school, predicts that trains will carry most long-distance travellers within two years.

This paragraph alone shows the huge advantage HSR has over other forms of transit between two major cities, and why the AVE is experiencing such success on the all-important Madrid to Barcelona route. The trains are fast, convenient, and efficient. Like the AVE lines, California's HSR system will serve the city centers; no need for a taxi to LAX or SFO. The shift in travel habits described here is both dramatic and immediate.

Critics still complain that politics has loomed too large. The first AVE line did not connect Madrid to busy Barcelona but to sleepy Seville, the home town of the then prime minister, Felipe Gonz├ílez. Even now, whereas small provincial cities like Valladolid and Segovia are connected to a new line, it will still take several years to link up with France’s network.

In retrospect this actually looks to have been a smart move. Madrid-Sevilla was a much easier engineering job than Madrid-Barcelona. When the first AVE line opened in 1992, its success showed that Spain was ready for more high speed trains. And while towns like Valladolid and Segovia may not have the same utility for a continental traveler as the planned link with the TGV, it makes political sense to show Spain that HSR is a solution for the whole country, and not just a few lucky areas. The result is the building and sustaining of political support for HSR that, in Spain, remains strong in both of the two major parties (PP and PSOE).

And as frequently predicted here on the blog, HSR is having a significant impact on the environmentally-damaging short-haul airline industry:

Prices vary and can be hard to compare. Budget airlines tend still to be the cheapest on the Madrid-Barcelona route. Fernando Conte, chairman of Iberia, Spain’s biggest airline, also insists that “point to point we are quicker.” Yet that assumes aircraft take off on time and there are no traffic jams. Savings on taxi fares plus a 99% punctuality rate are usually enough to push people on to the train. Tellingly enough, Iberia is planning to cut domestic flights by 7% this year.

Given SFO's frequent fog and rain delays, and LAX's overcrowding, 99% punctuality rates on California shuttle airlines is next to impossible to achieve. But the HSR trains can operate in that weather, and maintain their punctual schedules alongside their convenient city center to city center route.

California's plans aren't yet as ambitious as Spain's. But both California and the United States would do well to learn from the Spanish model - especially as we debate economic recovery and the future of our transportation network.


Rubber Toe said...

Ok, any guesses as to how long it is going to be until "Anon" from a few threads back starts arguing again that the 5 year old study he was tossing around "proves" that HSR in Spain has decreased the train share of the market?


Anonymous said...

Why do we never hear anything on this blog about the new HSR Milan Rome in Italy? Isn't Italy enough appealing to you?

Rafael said...

The Madrid-Seville starter line was constructed the in context of the 1992 World Expo in Seville, the capital of Andalucia, then as now a stronghold of the socialist PSOE party.

Soon after the government headed by Felipe Gonzales decided to buy the technology from Alstom, French police raided ETA safe houses in the three Basque provinces that were beyond the reach of Spanish authorities and extradited senior members of that terrorist organization.

Coincidence? Perhaps not.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 10:09am -

Robert has mentioned commenter DoDo's extensive post on Italian HSR on the European Tribune site in an earlier post.

However, Spain may be a better model for California in terms of total population, population distribution and topography. The country is also investing in expanding its HSR network more aggressively than Italy or indeed, any other nation save perhaps China (depends on what you count as HSR).

Anonymous said...

Here's a little math problem for you.

195,000 square miles
39.7M Pop

498,000 square miles
3.7M Pop

San Jose
178,000 square miles
1M Population

47 square miles
1M Pop
(Even SF is no where near the density of Spain - even if you double it to 2M pop, to account for tourism.)

Then begin to add the surrounding suburban areas in California, and the populations centers in California begin to get very spread out...

How exaclty is Spain comparable to California in terms of population and population distribution?

The 'city center' transit hub concept in California is complete nonsense. Its false. It doesn't exist, and HSR won't MAKE it exist. Spain may have a very lovely HSR system. Completely irrelevent to California.

Anonymous said...

That is an eye opening math problem! Until today I never realized that LA is 2.5 times larger than the entire country of Spain in terms of Area. It's also over 10,000 times the size of San Francisco!

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 10:37am -

LA county: 4752 sq mi
LA city: 498 sq mi
San Jose: 178 sq mi

LA county ~10.4 million
LA city ~3.8 million
Orange county ~3.1 million

Bay Area as a whole ~7 million inhabitants

The distance between SF and LA is comparable to Madrid (~4 million) - Barcelona (~1.6 million). That means the starter line in California actually makes even more sense than the newest HSR link in Spain, but then again its projected costs are also much higher. That's mostly because RENFE had preserved its rights of way in built-up areas and California had not.

Rubber Toe said...

498,000 square miles

It sure seems like it when you get on the freeways to go somewhere :-)


Anonymous said...

OK, I put too many zeros in each sq milage figure, thats a typo,

but drop the zeros and the comparisons to each other and between California cities and Spain, are still relevent. The story is the same. SPAIN population density is massively more dense than anything in California, even our most populated cities.

When it comes to the viability of mass transit its about DENSITY of population - numbers of people in compact areas around the transit hubs, that would realistically use the transit hubs in ways you're putting forth.

Reality is, people will be DRIVING CARS to get to the stations. AND YOU ARE PROPOSING to DRAW CARS IN, in a very big way, to these city centers. (Where today, THANK GOD, LAX and SFO keep the airport traffice AWAY from the city. Can you imagine the MESS if the airport traffic fed into the MIDDLE Of the CITY? WHAT A NIGHTMARE!)

The total county population - goes with the total county square mileage! What's the sq mileage of the 'bay area as a whole' that goes with the 7M pop you're presenting here? No doubt you'll get to an even LOWER density than either SF or SJ alone.

(Orange, you also threw in there without the corresponding sq mileage)

Even LA county numbers - WAY less DENSE than Spain.

LA city is denser than LA county.

For mass transit viability, Its NOT about the total population numbers, its about the living and working configuation of the populations you think you are serving.

When people have to DRIVE to airports or HSR stations, then you are only drawing more cars in. Its not viable, not desirable. It probably creates MORE car traffic than it relieves when you consider traffic jamming up in population centers!

Its not distances between cities or hubs that make any difference, and its NOT about total populuations across vast land areas.

Here's another way to think about it - your HSR customer base is not the inner city residents. Is the 'greater' bay or LA areas, and for that you need to draw vast numbers IN to that city center to ride the HSR. And to get there, they'll have to DRIVE. This isn't Spain.

Anonymous said...

Sq Mile Pop (M) Pop/SqM SqM/Pop
178 1 0.6% 178.0
47 1 2.1% 47.0
498 3.7 0.7% 134.6
195 39.7 20.4% 4.9
4752 10 0.2% 475.2
1304 1.7 0.1% 767.1

LA County
Santa Clara County.

Anonymous said...

Well we hope it becomes a little more like Spain..and other forward thinking goverments..instead of sprawl USA. We are building this for today and the next 100 years. We cannot have 200 mile long suburban zones..California urban areas will increase in population
there will be 50million people no matter what

Anonymous said...

Cities all over california have already started investing in their downtowns they started this trend over a decade ago. Yes suburban sprawl still exists. but more and more people are choosing to live in town.

Anonymous said...

I always though france was a good comparison. but im partial to anything french.

Anonymous said...

Rubber Toe,

You are welcome to produce evidence that HSR in Spain has increased the train share of the market, if you think you have it.

Anonymous said...


Lets use your total Bay area Growth number (from 7M now, to 9M by 2035). Thats 28% growth. For simplicity, lets assume same for each of these cities/counties.

And furthermore, lets just say for the sake of yuks the growth further accelerates beyond 2035 and is 100% growth by 2109 - 2X today's population 100 years from now..

Here are the new population density numbers with SPAIN being held completely FLAT to today's densities:

SJ 1.1%
SF 4.3%
LA 1.5%
LA Cnty .4%
SC Cnty .3%
SPAIN 20.4% !!!!

Oh and France? 211 sq miles, Population 64M. 64/211 = 30%, even more dense than Spain.
(Are we beginning to draw a picture here of why rail transit works so wonderfully well in Europe?, and is not at all suited to California populations?

Even over 100 years at 100% growth, the population density in California is not going to come anywhere NEAR comparable to Spain (or France) today.

Mass transit THAT GOES IN A STRAIGHT LINE is going to be virtually USELESS to this California population distribution (except for a fun ride to Disneyland). (You'll want to make sure they add plenty of FUNDING for LONG TERM PARKING STRUCTURES at CHSR Stations!)

By the way, water supplies in Southern Cal or the Bay Area for that matter, are not going to support this growth - in fact if you believe this growth rate, and you have any conscience at all, you'd be lobbying for water infrastructure projects, like cross-state water pipelines? saline treatement plants? new resevroirs? or whatever... not HSR.

Oh wait, I forgot. You don't live here, so what the hell do you care about these California towns.

Anonymous said...

Here are passenger-km figures for surface transportation from the latest (2007) edition of Eurostat's Statistical Pocket Book, which reports data through 2006. Figures are billions of passenger-km.

Passenger Car: 174.4
Rail: 15.5
Bus & Coach: 33.4
Tram & Metro: 4.4
Total: 227.7

Passenger Car: 321.9
Rail: 21.1
Bus & Coach : 49.2
Tram & Metro: 5.6
Total: 397.8

Passenger Car: 340.9
Rail: 22.1
Bus & Coach: 49.4
Tram & Metro: 6.2
Total: 418.6

Between 1990 and 2003, rail's share of passenger-km fell from 6.80% to 5.32%

Between 2003 and 2006, rail's share of passenger-km fell further, from 5.32% to 5.27%.

This occurred despite a quadrupling of HSR's share of total passenger-km of rail transportation in Spain between 2003 and 2006.

Conclusion: Conventional rail in Spain is declining faster than HSR in Spain is growing. At best, HSR is slowing the decline of rail.

Anonymous said...

@ ANNO what are your wonderful Reason Foundation ideas that will solve "our" issues for those of us that DO live in California?

Rafael said...

@ anon -

perhaps you've never been to Spain. There are a number of cities with a whole lot of empty countryside in-between, much of it arid and mountainous.

It's true that California's population centers are the result of recent car-centric sprawl, whereas many European cities predate the invention of the automobile and therefore have dense urban cores that lend themselves well to transit systems. However, there is now a trend back to high-density transit-oriented development near the urban core, especially in Northern California. This is complicated by existing zoning laws and seismic building codes, but that is not to say nothing will change in the next 30 years.

In particular, HSR creates an opportunity to foster economic development and population growth in the Central Valley, easing the pressure to pump even more water to the Bay Area and SoCal. Indeed, one of the most cogent arguments in favor of some form of upgraded passenger rail service through Altamont Pass is that it would make the naturally water-rich area between Sacramento and Merced more attractive to green tech businesses and new migrants to the state alike (many of them from other US states).

HSR stations will include car parks, but they will charge fees in line with the area they serve. The primary focus is on improving local transit along as the HSR system is built up. LA, Santa Clara and Marin/Sonoma counties all voted by 2/3 margins for sales tax hikes to pay for improved local transit, in the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s!

Networks of bicycle lanes and paths may be created to compensate for the paucity of transit services in especially sprawling conurbations. The gating factor there may be the high price of quality folding electric bicycles (folded state) on the US market. These can be taken along on any transit system including HSR and used at either end of the trip. Range on a full Li-ion battery is typically 20-30 miles on level terrain without a headwind.

There is also a cultural barrier to overcome. Most adults in California currently perceive bicycles strictly for kids or use as exercise equipment (esp. mountain bikes). Electric assist is generally thought of as too expensive/dangerous for kids and, irrationally, as "cheating" for adults.

In other countries, notably China, Vietnam, the Netherlands and Denmark, city bikes with just one or a few gears are considered general-purpose transportation equipment. Cargo versions are used as a matter of course to haul small children, groceries, even building materials through crowded, narrow streets.

In California, large distances, high summer temperatures and/or steep terrain mean powerful electric assist is a must-have for anyone looking to eliminate the recurring expenses related to owning a second or even a third car. Only in that context does spending on the order of $1500-$3000 on a folding electric bicycle even remotely make sense.

Clem said...

Time out. Let's first get the right arithmetic, and THEN draw conclusions.

In DECREASING order of population density:

Barcelona city: 39 sq mi; 1.67M people; 40,867 people/sq mi

San Francisco: 47 sq mi; 799,183 people; 17,113 people/sq mi

Madrid: 234 sq mi; 3.23M people; 13,460 people/sq mi

LA city: 498 sq mi; 3.8M people; 7,630 people/sq mi

San Jose: 175 sq mi; 989,496 people; 5,654 people/sq mi

LA County: 4,752 sq mi; 10.4M people; 2,188 people/sq mi

Madrid metro area: 3,100 sq mi; 6.25M people; 2,015 people/sq mi

Barcelona province: 2,990 sq mi; 5.42M people; 1,813 people/sq mi

Santa Clara County: 1,291 sq mi; 1,837,075 people; 1,409 people/sq mi

9-county Bay Area: 6,923 sq mi; 6.96M people; 1,005 people/sq mi

Spain: 195,364 sq mi; 46,157,822 people; 236 people/sq mi

California: 163,696 sq mi; 36,756,666 people; 225 people/sq mi

Alex M. said...

@ Anon @ 11:59 -

"Reality is, people will be DRIVING CARS to get to the stations."

Not true at all. Nobody will be driving to the TTC to get on the train. The whole idea of having a transit hub is that it is linked to other forms of mass transit. I live in Berkeley and there is no way I would drive to downtown SF, park in a garage, then take a train to LA. I would take AC Transit to the Bart station, then take that to the Montgomery BART station connected to the TTC and transfer to HSR there. Like Rafael said, the HSR project is also working on building out local transit to "feed" the system. Your vision that everyone will be driving to the HSR stations and parking is not correct at all. Your concern most likely lies with the large crowded cities (SF and LA) where it WOULD be a problem to drive to these stations. But, like I said, the majority of the people going to the TTC will use public transit, as will many people to Union Station. In smaller cities (without build out transit systems) along the route, driving to the station will be less of a problem. Your pessimism is REALLY irritating.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Anon, you must be blind to argue that a "city center transit hub" doesn't exist in California. One already exists - LA Union Station. It is an extremely busy place and is indeed the hub of the SoCal passenger rail network.

SF Transbay Terminal is poised to play a similar role, as is SJ Diridon.

As to the comparisons, Spain actually has more sprawl than folks realize, especially in the Madrid area. As Clem pointed out the population densities are quite similar between Madrid, Barcelona, LA and SF.

Back in July 2008 Matt Melzer, then of NARP, posted some excellent charts showing that prior to 1992 Spain was a nation dependent on cars and airplanes for travel, just as California is today. The conditions are very similar, even the topography.

As to Italy, I admit I am more familiar with the AVE trains than any other, so that familiarity bias will repeat itself on the blog from time to time. I did post about the new Italian HSR, and try to write about news on other HSR systems when it comes up.

But given Spain's ambitious HSR plans, its strong parallels to California, and the stunning success they've had, yeah, I think we should pay special attention to Spain.

I'm always open to posting articles written by site visitors - shoot me an email with an idea or a ready-to-go post and I'll put it up.

Anonymous said...

It's foolish to compare densities of SPAIN versus CALIFORNIA in this discussion. This sort of transit isn't meant to serve the Owens Valley, Yosemite National Park, Eureka, or a whole host of other undeveloped wilderness areas in the state of California. It is, however, worth comparing Barca/Madrid and SF/LA, and the comparison there isn't so far off.

Honestly, do we care how transit-ready Tahoe City is when evaluating if ridership will be high on a LA-SF train?

Rubber Toe said...

Anon said: "Rubber Toe, You are welcome to produce evidence that HSR in Spain has increased the train share of the market, if you think you have it."

Gee lets see, why don't I just check the article that this blog post references...

"Domestic airlines have lost a fifth of their passengers in the space of a year. And long-distance trains have gained almost a third."

Lets do the math here... Does domestic flights down 20% and long distance trains up nearly 33% over the last year count as increased market share? In most peoples worlds yes, but not in Anon's world. Stay tuned for his take on it...


Anonymous said...


Sorry, an unsubstantiated assertion in a magazine article is not evidence.

But in fact the statement you quote would not conflict with the data from Eurostat I presented above even if it were true. HSR in Spain is growing, but total rail in Spain is declining faster. The two are probably related.

Clem said...

A decline in modal share is not the same as a decline in traffic. Rail in Spain is growing, if not quite as fast as automobile use. The Eurostat figures do not yet include the years 2007 and 2008, which would reflect the opening of the Madrid - Barcelona trunk line.

Would you run that population density argument by me again?

Anonymous said...

The main argument is that Spain is NOT a comp or a good supporting arugment for CHSR.

More specifically, the argument is that dense populations need and support a rail transit system, and in dense population centers the feeder transit systems that bring people conviently to the rail make sense, are realistic, are cost effective, can reach who they need to reach (the rail customers). The population is transit ready reachable, and in need. A rail system has a captive audience that NEEDS it where populutions are densely packed.

An un-dense population is spread out. The ability to reach and serve a spread out population with transit feeder systems is limited. A straight line doesn't do them much good, they still have to get to the train and then out of the train and finish their trip by driving. The transit system that would be needed would be too vast, too costly. It would be underutilized, non-cost effective, unrealistic. (ie: We have bus routes in Santa Clara County all the time that are cancelled due to lack of ridership. Even where the population NEEDS the route, (like a route that runs by the high school), not ENOUGH people are able to take advantage of that route, it doesn't run frequently enough,etc. Its not cost feasible. We don't have the population density to support viable public transit systems.

In un-dense areas, the rail line itself is uncompelling as a viable transportation option to most of the population that you would hope to reach because there simply is no convenience, without driving.

Alternative to Airline.. Maybe but you're ruining any convenience argument for this primarily DRIVING addressable market, by putting the stations in the middle of cities. The customer base you MUST reach to support your ridership numbers MUST drive there. They don't LIVE there. (Only relatively few CHSR customers really live in the big city hubs!) The rest outside of the city hubs don't have viable mass transit options to get there. They WON"T in any foreseeable future.

Today, at least (thank god) the airports sit outside of the major cities. SFO - CAn you imagine if they plopped SFO down in the middle of San Francisco? The car/taxi traffic would literally shut the city down. SFO doesn't serve SF, it serves the entire bay area! This plan wants to intentionally draw THIS SAME traffic in to the cities. Serious travelers will think you're nuts, but you WILL attract looky loo visitors, and a very limited population that will take it regularly from the un-dense cities. How often? For what purpose? They HAVE Caltrain, how often to SF'ers really need to go to LA? This level of ridership from un-dense centers, that don't have all that much reason to go between LA and SF, won't support the HSR numbers.

The HSR becomes primarily a very expensive tourist attraction. Just like a very expensive underutilized bus route.

In other words, the REALISTIC addressable market in an un-dense area is much more limited than a simple headcount of population within the county lines might suggest. DENSITY (not just population, not just distances between two points), not just seconds shaved, is what matters for the HSR feasibility.

Clem, you've lived on the Peninsula. Take a typical person's daily movement - take kids to school, go to work, pick up kids, go to grocery store, go home. Go get some dinner, go to dance recital, come home. Is ANYONE in California really accomplishing this without a car? I've known plenty of people living even in SF that don't even accomplish this without a car. I've never in all my 40 years in the bay area known a family with less than two cars.
A few will pipe up and say - YES, they do, but that's not the norm by any stretch.

HSR provides NO replacement of cars - people will need to go a long, time consuming way to get to the HSR station (keep in mind - long distance travel, suitcases, business suits, deadlines, children, etc.) Any vision of the transit systems that would get them there are make believe, don't exist, not realistic to think that they could reach the corners of these un-dense areas. Its UNREALISTIC.

Growth - they say ITS COMING - we'll need HSR in 30? 50? 100? years? The most alarming growth numbers STILL don't bring even the MOST dense city in California (San Fransciso) anywhere near the density of cities in Europe, like Barcelona. The density of SF and LA and SJ are less than half the major city centers of Spain. Spain needs HSR. 100 years from now, the densest California cities still won't even be as dense as the major cities of Spain. And there are factors and pressures that will limit growth in California. Water being one. Available alternatives being another. (There are A LOT of already developed cities across California that can be overhauled and revitalized before people start feeling the need to pile in on top of eachother in densely packed urbanized cities. Crime rates, lack of open space, unsafe schools, high costs of living, will be continue to be counter pressure to density in California.

HSR argument is basically - build it and they will come. Notice, that's alot different than - build it ASAP because we'll help you solve a problem today. IN other words, you don't need it now, but we'll help you need it. We'll CREATE a problem, or at least we'll DRIVE YOU FASTER to a PROBLEM which we'll (sort of) solve. HSR will be the reason, the driver, the gas pedal, for your growth.

Its backwards.

Here's the thing. CHSR really boils down to an expensive tourist attraction. Overkill on a massive proportion. And driving to density FOR HSR is backwards

Anonymous said...

Good lord why do we even need a comparison. Californians voted for high speed rail. The HSR authority has a plan. The cities involved are on board. The system will be designed for california not spain.. Why are people still arguing about this. It passed. ITs needed and any other solution for the future will cost at least as much and probably way more. Airports? Any one who thinks that another airport runway will ever be built in the sf bay is living in a fantasy. it will NEVER happen here.and if the nimby's are pitching a hissy feet over ten feet of right of way, imagine the statewide nimbyism when it comes to adding 40 or 50 feet of freeway lanes. I have to say that living in america with these conservative penny pitching neanderthal nutbags for the last couple of decades is giving me a major migraine. die out and be done with it already. I know its your only sense of purpose but you guys need to quit being such a pain in the ass. your time is over.

Alai said...

Anon, you seem to believe that everyone in the Bay Area will have to drive into San Francisco to get on the train. This is silly. People who drive will drive to the SFO station, or the Palo Alto station, where I'm sure there will be parking provided.

Alon Levy said...

Anon, is the car traffic data for Spain only for long-distance travel? If it's not, then you're comparing HSR to car traffic even in areas HSR doesn't serve.

Anonymous said...

Anon, is the car traffic data for Spain only for long-distance travel?

No, it's total passenger-km by car (and light truck).

If it's not, then you're comparing HSR to car traffic even in areas HSR doesn't serve.

I didn't compare HSR to car traffic. I compared rail to car traffic. The rail category includes all rail traffic except urban rail transit ("Tram & Metro"). The modal share of Tram & Metro has also declined.

Anonymous said...

To crazy ANON, there will be more than the one downtown Stop in the Bay. So calm down. No everyone will be clamoring for the SF tranny.

Anonymous said...

Californians voted for high speed rail. The HSR authority has a plan. The cities involved are on board.

There's no money. The state needs to sell $10 billion in bonds to raise its share of the funding. It hasn't sold any. It needs another $10 billion from the federal government. It doesn't have that either. And another $10 billion from private investors. It doesn't have that either. It can't start construction until funding from all three sources is secured. It will never be secured because the whole project is an absurd fantasy.

Anonymous said...

"There's no money. The state needs to sell $10 billion in bonds to raise its share of the funding. It hasn't sold any. It needs another $10 billion from the federal government. It doesn't have that either. And another $10 billion from private investors. It doesn't have that either. It can't start construction until funding from all three sources is secured. It will never be secured because the whole project is an absurd fantasy"

Well then if that is the case then what are you worried about. No need to hang around here. After it's never gonna happen right?

Anonymous said...

ITS here because we have a sore loser...Prop 1a WON!!!!get used to it ..WE will have HSR worth it or your mind

TomW said...

@Anon, 10:37 AM:
Population Spain: 40,491,052
Population California: 33,871,648

Area of Spain: 499,542 sq km
Area of California: 423,970 sq km

Poulation density of Spain: 81 people / sq km
Poulation density of California: 79 people / sq km

Here endeth the population denisty arguments. (please... for the love of everything nice)

Anonymous said...

Well then if that is the case then what are you worried about.

I'm not worried.

Alon Levy said...

If what you're saying is that rail has lost modal share to cars in general, then how does that relate to the question of HSR? Intercity rail traffic is tiny compared to urban and suburban rail. For example, the Tokaido Shinkansen, which has an 80% modal share between Tokyo and Osaka, has a daily ridership of 350,000, compared with 36,000,000 for the Tokyo urban rail system.

To show that rail has failed in Spain, you need to show one of the following, and preferably both:
1. Rail has been losing market share for commutes within Madrid metro;
2. Rail has been losing market share for intercity travel between cities served by the AVE (Madrid-Seville would be a good test case).
It really doesn't say much if a century-old tram system that hasn't gotten much new construction in 30 years is losing market share. If you want to show that rail is declining, you need to compare a specific growing rail system, such as the AVE or the Madrid Metro, to a specific growing road network.

Anonymous said...

If you want to show that rail is declining, you need to compare a specific growing rail system, such as the AVE or the Madrid Metro, to a specific growing road network.

No, I don't need to show that. To show that rail is failing, I only need to show that rail overall is declining. And the numbers I presented above do show that. The fact that rail has gained market share in certain specific markets does not alter the fact that rail overall is declining.

Alon Levy said...

Right. So what you're saying is that if rail is declining in a market where all recent infrastructure spending has been roads, then it's evidence that spending more money on rail is pointless.

Anonymous said...

No, I didn't say that. I suggest you read my posts again, more carefully this time.

Anonymous said...

RAil is failing? ---"Ridership Tops 25.8 Million, $1.5 Billion in Passenger Revenue
WASHINGTON — Amtrak ridership in Fiscal Year 2007 increased to 25,847,531, marking the fifth straight year of gains and setting a record for the most passengers using Amtrak trains since the National Railroad Passenger Corporation started operations in 1971.

This total, for the period October 1, 2006-September 30, 2007, topped the 24,306,965 for the previous 12 months and is greater than the passenger count of 25.03 million reached in 2004, before Amtrak transitioned some services to a commuter rail operator.

Total ticket revenue for the fiscal year, $1.5 billion was an 11 percent increase over the $1.37 billion in FY06. If other income from contract services is included, the railroad's total revenue was $2.2 billion for the fiscal year" yeah sounds like it ...