Saturday, June 6, 2009

Corridor of Death

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

There is an unfolding and horrifying story coming out of Palo Alto that directly impacts not only the high speed rail project, but the whole community. In the last two months two students at Gunn High School have committed suicide by throwing themselves in front of passing Caltrains. Last night passersby helped stop a third student from doing the same:

The 17-year-old boy, a student at Gunn High School, apparently walked to the East Meadow Drive crossing at about 7:45 p.m. Thursday and was contemplating suicide when he his mother came on the scene, police Agent Dan Ryan said. The motorist saw the mother pleading with her son and stopped to help, as did a Palo Alto police officer, Ryan said.

Police called Caltrain dispatchers, and an approaching northbound train was stopped in Mountain View, Ryan said.

It's difficult for transit infrastructure to be designed in a way that can stop someone truly determined to kill themselves from doing so, as the Golden Gate Bridge and BART have discovered. That being said, this rash of suicides reminds us of the inherently dangerous nature of grade crossings where fast, heavy trains are operating. (Light rails and streetcars have potential issues - but then so does any other vehicle operated on the roads.)

This is particularly the case on the Caltrain corridor, where people are routinely hit or killed along the at-grade tracks, despite an intensive public education campaign by Caltrain.

So why are Palo Alto NIMBYs fighting to preserve such a deadly situation? I have less objection to those supporting a tunnel - they're being unrealistic, but aren't calling for the preservation of a clear untenable situation. For those who argue from a "tunnel or nothing" position, or who claim that the status quo should be preserved, I'd like to hear their thoughts on why the deadly corridor isn't worth doing something about.

Obviously grade separations on the Caltrain corridor aren't a cure for teen suicide, nor are they going to ensure that there is never a deadly accident of any kind ever again in Palo Alto. But shouldn't the death toll be as much a part of the conversation, if not moreso, than a bunch of people whining about property values?


Anonymous said...

For those of you who do not live in the Bay Area, this story gets even worse There have an additional 3 train deaths in the last week.

Bicyclist death at San Jose Diridon station last night.
Pedestrian fatality with Capitol Corridor in Hayward.
Suicide with Amtrak train in Berkeley.

Most of the details can be found in this article.

YESonHSR said...

The BayArea is far to large and dense to have rural style open grade crossings.This should have been addresed over the last 20 years and has not because of the constant lack of funds and medding by people who dont want any construction/change.There are also far more cars/people than 30-40 years ago and people are careless in this day and age and it shows.

Rafael said...

@ Robert Cruickshank -

whatever our differences with NIMBYs in Palo Alto and elsewhere, let's not insinuate that their objective is to perpetuate suicides at Caltrain's remaining grade crossings. Rather, it is a side effect that they appear willing to live with for the sake of propping up the values of their homes, nestled as they are in the bucolic charm of bells and 120dB train horns going off ten times an hour during weekday peak periods.

It is true that over the years, many cross roads along the peninsula have already been grade separated, with plans for incremental improvements as and when local voters are willing to pay for them, primarily to ease congestion.

However, it is also true that at the current rate it would take decades to complete the process, if ever. The much busier NEC, home of the only even moderately high speed rail service in the US, still features a handful of grade crossings to this day.

Likewise, SF peninsula residents have been unable to get Santa Clara county to pony up its share of Caltrain electrification for many years now. Meanwhile, many thousands of homeowners along the ROW are exposed to the soot and sulfur compounds emitted by Caltrain's and UPRR's legacy EPA Tier 2 locomotives.

Much stricter Tier 3 and 4 standards will come into force by 2012 and 2015, respectively, but only for new locomotives or replacement engines. The technology involved will also require a switch to more expensive on-road ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel. However, if Caltrain electrification is postponed yet again because VTA funnels every last cent into its BART extension, chances are the railroad will be asked to keep its legacy equipment in working order for as long as possible.


HSR represents the SF peninsula's best and probably only chance in a very long time to obtain both electrification and full grade separation of the entire ROW in the space of a few years. The bulk of the funding will come out of state and federal coffers and, SF peninsula residents contribute plenty to both of those. It's not free money.

However, those state and federal taxes would otherwise be spent somewhere else. Moreover, at least according to CHSRA, there is still substantial interest from private investors in the HSR project as a whole.

Rafael said...

@ Robert Cruickshank -

(part 2)

As you rightly point out, full grade separations will not be a cure for suicidal tendencies, regardless of age. It merely shifts the problem to some other means to shuffle off this mortal coil or preferably, to the mental health profession which is best placed to deal with the root causes.

This is probably why CHSRA and others have not made a lot of hay about the sharp decline of deaths on the tracks that the HSR project will bring.

Nevertheless, transportation agencies do have a valid interest in making it very hard or impossible for suicidal persons to abuse the infrastructure they operate. I say abuse because suicide is inherently a selfish act, albeit a desperate and tragic one.

Usually, the train engineer suffers significant mental anguish as well. It doesn't matter that he/she is not at fault, the realization that a vehicle you're in control of is about to maim or kill someone is horrific enough - especially since the event typically unfolds over a period of many seconds in this context. By the time he/she actually sees a person trespassing on the tracks, it is often already too late to bring the train to a full stop before a collision occurs.

Even at low speeds, a heavy freight train will slice through a big rig as easily as a knife through butter. A staged off-center collision with a school bus causes it to spin violently.

Passenger cars suffer severe intrusion in a side impact, with injuries possibly aggravated as the train drags the car or pushes it to the side. Check out this British PSA involving a simulated express train. That's about as fast as Caltrain operates in certain sections of the ROW.

Obviously, cyclists and pedestrians stand even less chance of survival.


In addition, many incidents involve damage to the rail infrastructure and, every one causes significant disruption to operations later in the day. This is especially significant in the context of passenger traffic, as hundreds of people may be stuck in their cars or in their train for extended periods of time.

In one recent case, a Chinese man actually pushed a suicidal person off a bridge to get traffic moving again after five hours of gridlock.

I don't mean to be flip about this at all, but transportation arteries do exist for a specific purpose and making it easy for any one person to block one for personal reasons does have an economic impact - even if that is quite rightly the last consideration, not the first.

Rafael said...

Lest I forget: my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones in the train-related incidents in the Bay Area mentioned in Robert's post and the comment by anon @ 8:22am.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should take suicide out of the discussion.

Whatever the cause, I would be willing to bet that there are many more deaths on the easily accessible but smaller CalTrain system than the entire grade separated BART system.

There are a lot of well informed readers out there, does anybody have any facts and figures about fatalities on the two systems?

Morris Brown said...

Rafael your comments here very much appreciated.

I have lived in my home about 600 feet from the CalTrain tracks for 40 years. During that time there have been way too many tragedies. Many of these are suicides, but not all.

About 30 years ago, a 10 year old girl, while returning from home at night, was killed on the tracks about 1 block from our home. She apparently had stopped while a train went by in one direction, but she then crossed when a train from the other direction hit her.

CalTrain to its great credit has instituted recently a fairly broad range of fencing along the corridor.

I admit we used to walk on the tracks at times, especially to get to a nearby park. The new fencing precludes that, which is all to the better.

The estimated cost for grade separating and electrifying the tracks for CalTrain alone is of the order of $4-5 billion. That's a lot of money and there has to date been no source for that funding until HSR suddenly appeared.

However, HSR brings with it at least one extra set of tracks in a corridor which at least in Menlo Park and other communities is tightly constrained in width.

Better crossing security at grade crossings along with fencing would solve most of the accidents that are not suicides. This can be done a only a tiny fraction of the cost of grade separation. In Menlo Park, we have 4 at grade crossings, of which really only 1, the crossing at Ravenswood really warrants a full grade crossing due to congestion relief. Yet HSR demands full grade crossings everywhere. Elevated, above grade rails, in a tight corridor is just not acceptable.

Let me just add, that we hoped very much to institute quiet zones in MP to remove the horn noise. This can be done with installation of 4 quad gates etc., again at only a fraction of the cost of grade crossings. Elevating the train, such that train noise itself will spread much further and louder than at grade, along with perhaps at least twice as many trains passing though, is hardly a selling point for HSR.

zebra said...

the crossing at E. Meadow doesn't have any of the suicide prevention signs that the Churchill crossing has (which Clem put in his post) - at a bare minimum - these should be added immediately.

Any at grade crossing should have those signs - it may not help everyone, but even if only one person uses it - it is worth it.....

Brandon in California said...

No, I think suicides deserves a place in the discussion. It has merit.

Peninsula NIMBY's should be confronted with the information that grade separation provides many benefits, among those are reduced opportunity for suicides. And, that their opposition essentially argues for the status quop to remain.

Brandon in California said...

It's unfortunate that anyone feels such dispair that they consider suicide, and my thoughts consider them in writing this; however, I have equal thoughts for the victims.... others that are physically and emotionally injured and scarred for life.

Train engineers are among those. It's a movie, but Kevin Bacon played such an engineer in the film "Rails and Ties". Not that great a flick, but it portrays two engineers affected by such incidents; suicides by train.

Daniel Jacobson said...

@Morris Brown: I still don't understand how you can jump from arguing HSR grade separations are fiscally irresponsible to demanding a tunnel as the only responsible solution. That's essentially saying "$4 billion is too much, so let's spend $14 billion instead."

Robert Cruickshank said...

Several points:

1. I'm not claiming the NIMBYs are supporting suicide or any other form of death. I am saying their stance does not take into account those matters, and is unlikely to address the problem.

2. The solution Morris Brown proposes is unwokable with HSR on the Peninsula - and I would guess that's the point. As Daniel pointed out, it is absurd to criticize the cost of grade separations - which have always been part of the financial plan - while supporting a tunnel whose costs are totally unknown but likely to be high.

Anonymous said...

Grade crossing have got to be eliminated. period. Grade crossing accidents happen more than you can imagine. Not all of them are tragic, but all of them are disruptive. Suicides and accidents in areas away from grade crossings can be reduced by a combination of fencing, raised berms, and the elimination of blind spots. In america, we only value life to the extent that it costs us money.

Rafael said...

@ Robert Cruickshank -

to my mind, the following question was more pointed than you may have intended:

"So why are Palo Alto NIMBYs fighting to preserve such a deadly situation?"

I just wanted to head off yet another shoutfest discussion thread over a potential misunderstanding. I do agree with you that those who oppose HSR in the Caltrain corridor - with all the local changes that entails - need to be confronted with the issue of grade crossing safety.

Palo Altans proudly claim their first priority is excellent schools, yet large numbers of students have to use one of two railroad grade crossings (Churchill and especially, E Meadow) ten times a week to get there and back. At least those two locations ought to have been grade separated a long time ago, when California HSR wasn't even a twinkle in anyone's eye yet.

Anonymous said...

yes but the children of Palo Alto are protected by impermeable bubbles of a space age material made from a derivative of horseshit. So they aren't concerned.

Morris Brown said...

Just to be clear. I have never said I support a tunnel. I do not support a tunnel.

I object to this project as planned. I certainly understand that at grade crossings for HSR with CalTrain (4 tracks minimum) is not a solution. I didn't suggest that. It could be that, at great crossings for CalTrain alone with better safety measures are satisfactory.

Rafael's point about safety for kids going to school could by met cheaply with a pedestrain / bicycle underpass. I don't live in Palo Alto; that is a local issue upon they can decide.

Sam said...

Morris - in other words, you do not support HSR in your backyard under ANY circumstance.

Matthew Melzer said...

Check out this excellent KTVU interview with a Caltrain engineer who tells a side of the story we don't often hear after grade crossing fatalities. I hope it's a sign that at least some media are coming around to not reflexively blaming the big, bad train for others' actions. One Chronicle headline the other day I believe used the phrase "Suicide by Train," which is far more accurate than the dime-a-dozen "Train Kills Pedestrian" titles.

Having said that, we needed to engineer these hazards away yesterday. It's unconscionable to advocate for the status quo. One can easily argue that electrification works symbiotically with grade separation from a community perspective: With both features, trains can move more quietly, swiftly, safely, and efficiently, eliminating both the acute hazard of grade crossings and the long-term health hazard of diesel exhaust. Icing on the cake, nearby property values will increase with a safer road and pedestrian environment and cleaner air (not to mention access to improved train service).

HSR will hasten Caltrain's already-planned improvements on both counts. It's time to get Peninsula politicians (local and state) on record to clarify whether or not they want a safe, green, 21st century railroad in their neighborhoods, or if they'd prefer to keep the dirtier, more hazardous 20th century technology. That is the fundamental question, and justifiably shifts the onus from the CHSRA (anemic as their PR efforts may be) to the vocal stasists who don't want to see necessary change.

Clem said...

Better crossing security at grade crossings along with fencing would solve most of the accidents that are not suicides ...

@Morris: Menlo Park crossing improvements are coming.

the crossing at E. Meadow doesn't have any of the suicide prevention signs ...

@zebra: as you can see, the signs are very much there at Meadow, just like every other Caltrain crossing.

Bay Area Resident said...

LOL this post is a new low even for this blog. So Palo Alto is defacto allowing more teenage suicides thanks to their resistance to HSR? To quote the late great Johnny Carson: "I did not know that!". Palo Alto no doubt has a very competitive climate for teenagers. Thats what causes it I suspect.

Anonymous said...

I am a retired SP-UP engineer. I worked on CalTrain before it switched to Amtrak and stayed with SP–UP freight service until 2003. I have struck and killed 14 people in my railroad career. You all have No ideal what it is like to be at scene of dismembered body parts and the sound of steel crashing, or the how loud the sound is of person being hit is. The nightmares still come. The sound and smells of the brake pipe exhaust and the brakes squealing. I wake up from nightmares with my ears ringing and heart pounding. I will stop here because it still causes me great pain.
Next time you are driving on the freeway imagine trying it will take you 1 ½ to two miles to stop even if the car or person you hit is still on your car hood.
Trains, people and cars don’t mix.

Matt said...

reading comprehension: Not Bay Area Resident's strong point.

Unknown said...

As you rightly point out, full grade separations will not be a cure for suicidal tendencies, regardless of age.

Well, it's a little more complicated than that - a lot of research has revealed that many people who contemplate suicide base their thoughts around a specific method. So a depressed person isn't necessarily thinking, "I could just end it all, now I need to figure out the best way to do it." Rather their thoughts are more along the lines of "I could just throw myself in front of that train, and that would be the end of it all."

You get the same debate about suicide barriers on bridges, the seemingly logical response is, well, wouldn't the prospective jumpers just shoot themselves or take pills instead?

However, it appears that removing potential means of suicide actually saves lives.

Brandon in California said...

Anon 808p

I understand completely. I have not experienced first hand, but I am familiar with the consequences. Though you should know; those incidents were not your fault. No one places blame on you or the railroad.

Brandon in California said...

Heads up... the link for "Californians for High Speed Trains" has expired... and is now dead.

May I also suggest providing a link for "los Angeles Transporation Headlines" and maybe the MTC transportation sites?

The LA Headlines page appears to be maintained by the LACMTA Library... and I noticed that they user for that site is now a listed follower of this one.

Anonymous said...

this just in: Bay Area Council Recommends $3.4B for High Speed Rail

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- The prospects of federal dollars for high speed rail in the Bay Area got a boost Friday as the Bay Area Council recommended that fast trains receive $3.4 billion in economic stimulus funding
The State had asked the Bay Area Council to identify the best proposals in the region to receive federal stimulus money. The council came back with a list without about 100 recommendations, and in terms of funding, high-speed rail was placed at the top.

About $500 million of the total $3.4 billion would go to expand the Diridon Transit Station in Downtown San Jose, a critical piece of the puzzles says Ron Diridon, a member of the Highspeed Rail Authority Board.

“The high speed trains will stop there, all of them, both the express trains that go on down to San Francisco as well as the local trains, and it will be a very busy terminal.”

Other federal stimulus monies would go to San Mateo and San Francisco, including the Transbay Terminal Project.

For the Bay Area Council, high speed rail is a perfect fit for stimulus money because it's a regional project that would provide economic benefit for the entire bay area.

The Bay Area Council's recommendations are not binding, but will carry some weight in Sacramento and Washington when decisions about stimulus funding are made.

Anonymous said...

here the broadcast here

Anonymous said...

hear the broadcast here

Anon said...

ITs an absolute disgusting FARCE that HSR proponents are siezing on caltrain SUICIDES for their own politicial agenda. Be clear, grade separated crossings can happen without HSR. If Caltrain had half a wit, they could easily apply for federal stimulus funding to get that done, WITHOUT HSR. CHSRA is NOT the savior proponents want to paint it to be. Its only a bully. And suicices by tracks will continue with or without HSR unless the train is put underground and stations are secured. You are Sick and Disgusting opportunists.

Hey Clem, you putting this on your blog too?

Brandon in California said...

Anon... it's opponents whom are siezing on the incidents as an opportunity to advocate a tunnel.

Nothing is wrong with grade separations.

NONIMBYS said...

NIMBYS are the loud mouth bullies!!
Remember those grade crossings will "RUIN" the town!!!YOUR RIGHT Caltrain should have had them by now..Loud mouth whinneys did not want them..Whha the street dips..PAs "problems" have nothing to do with the HSR project.

Anonymous said...

Robert writes:

"There is an unfolding and horrifying story coming out of Palo Alto that directly impacts not only the high speed rail project, but the whole community."

Oh my, something that directly impacts the HSR project! Oh, yes, and the community.

What a twisted presentation of a tragic set of events. No, Robert, the so-called NIMBYs are not in favor of pedestrian deaths, as you seem to indicate in your question. Leave this community alone, you don't live here, don't try to capitalize on this tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Nobody said anything about palo alto preferring suicides. It was only pointed out that improvements can help reduce them. Stop trying to paint people in such bad light for pointing out the truth.

Spokker said...

"Using suicides to forward your cause? Asshole."

Yeah, I tend to agree. HSR opponents on the peninsula have got to stop using that tactic. It's only going to hurt their cause in the end.

Anonymous said...

Don't get mad just because you know that each day that goes by, the stars continue to align against the nimby's.

Anonymous said...

The fact is that communities such as yours, who resist any change, including safety improvements, are somewhat responsible, whether you oppose upgrades due to cost considerations or whether you oppose them due to "preservation" concerns. Most cities and towns are hoping desperately for such improvements in safety and many municipalities only wish they had the money to do them without waiting for the railroad to do it.

Anonymous said...

My brothers, sister, and I crossed the tracks at Churchill for a total of 12 years of high school. We all knew what a train was; it was big and loud and couldn't stop. We also knew what those flashing red lights and the arm across the road meant.

Our parents taught us to look both ways before crossing a street; we looked both ways three times before crossing the tracks.

I don't remember any of our friends not knowing what a train was or not knowing they had to be respected. Some died in Vietnam, but none died at the Churchill crossing.

Pat said...

@Robert --

So why are Palo Alto NIMBYs fighting to preserve such a deadly situation?

Then in comments:

I'm not claiming the NIMBYs are supporting suicide or any other form of death. I am saying their stance does not take into account those matters, and is unlikely to address the problem.

Robert, sure you are saying that the opposition is supporting suicides. You can't take back what you said in the original post.

This is more of the same. Anyone who is not with CHSRA's way of solving the problem is supporting suicides, deaths, global warming, airlines, and any other "bad" thing you can think of.

So yes you did, and still do mean to equate the Palo Alto opposition with suicide-lovers.

The later denial buried deep in the comments is no more believable that Bill O'Reilly disavowing any encouragement of the murder of Dr. Tiller.

Instead of offering some lame retraction in the comments, here is a radical idea:

stop trying to demonize and ascribe false motives to people who disagree with you.

Anonymous said...

@pat - I didn't read it that way I think you are paranoid, or at least overly sensitive. What I read is that the general affect of nimbyism tends to uphold that status quo rather than encourage improvements. that's what was meant. not " those palo alto folks like suicide" please. get real. or take a valium.

Pat said...

@jim --

Well you are certainly entitled to give Robert the benefit of the doubt.

However, lets be real here. Closing a grade crossing is as simple as erecting a barrier and creating a ped underpass. It does not require caltrain to be elevated. Yet Robert does claim that only by elevated Caltrain for HSR will suicides-by-train be stopped.

Even if Caltrain is completely grade-separated suicidal people can go to a station and wait for an express train to hit them.

I stand by my assertion that this entire post was intended to connect the opposition with the suicides.

Robert has also done a similar tar-and-feather job before.

Robert Cruickshank channeling Himmler by repeating the great lie about the oppositions motives:
This is about a small but loud group of NIMBYs who want to kill HSR outright who are doing the equivalent of whining to mom and dad when they don't get their way.

Robert Cruickshank labeling opposition as "deniers" (Holocaust deniers):
Jack Morton and his fellow HSR deniers are hoping that if they kill the CHSRA, then they might be able to either destroy the project outright by neutering it along Sen. Alan Lowenthal's preferred lines (taking the money away from an SF-LA train and instead building glorified commuter rail) - or put it in the hands of a more pliable agency.

Hell just run this simple search and you can see that Robert Cruickshank is a propagandist in the best traditions of Goebbels.

Robert is hardly in the position of being able to claim to be the innocent party. He has been spending months labeling anyone who opposes Robert Cruickshank's one TRUE religion as evil.

Anonymous said...

Pat, when the other side engages in use of terms like "Berlin Wall" to describe parts of the project, what do you expect?

Bianca said...

Wow, Pat, my mind is still a little whiplashed by the hyperbole in your comment. Just for rhetorical consistency, someone channeling Goebbels and Himmler really ought to be a denier himself, ya know? The Nazis weren't exactly trumpeting to the world what was going on at the death camps.

Bravo to you though, Pat, for you have Godwinned yourself in a way I haven't seen on this series of tubes in a very long time.

A lot of suicides are opportunistic. "I am so distraught, maybe I should just throw myself in front of this oncoming train." It's not possible to prevent a person determined to commit suicide, but studies have shown that making impulsive suicides more difficult does indeed save lives. Grade separations don't necessarily mean a giant elevated train, either. The grade crossings on the Peninsula ought to have been separated decades ago.

Pat said...

@Anonymous --

"Berlin Wall" does not attribute false motivations to the opposition. Try again on your rebuttal.

@Bianca --

You are funny :-) I am pointing out that Robert Cruickshank is a propagandist in the best traditions of the truly excellent at the art of propaganda by his unending use of the term "HSR denier" with its clear analogy to Holocaust denying.

I can't help but notice that you are redirecting the issue from Robert Cruickshank's propaganda to an attack on me.

How about you respond to the clear propaganda pattern in Robert Cruickshank's writing?

Re: suicides are opportunistic. Yes. And a grade crossing can be closed with nothing more expensive than K-rail and fencing. Elevated structures are not required.

Bianca said...

Hey Pat, I have a news flash for you: this is Robert's blog. Right there, on the front page, it's his creation. He pretty much gets to say whatever he jolly well pleases, and if you don't like it, well, you can go start your own blog.

Complaining about Robert's style on his own blog is like going to an Italian restaurant and then complaining about how everything on the menu has olive oil in it.

Anonymous said...

Haha, Bianca takes the trophy!

Adirondacker said...

And a grade crossing can be closed with nothing more expensive than K-rail and fencing.

I'm sure in the alternatives they examined that was rejected. It would lead to more automobile congestion and more air pollution. Putting up a fence is much cheaper than an overpass, if it was a viable option they would be using it.

Spokker said...

Even the Shinkansen sees its share of suicides. The man in this article actually opened the door and jumped out. So it does happen.

At stations where suicide barriers have been installed nobody has fallen or jumped onto the tracks since 2002, lending credibility to the idea that suicides are opportunistic.

Pat said...

@Bianca --

ROTFL -- You are funny. So I gather that you are acknowledging that Robert Cruickshank is a propagandist.

WRT your extremely funny comparison of Robert Cruickshank the propagandist to Olive Garden, I think one is allowed to complain about a Italian restaurant that has saturated the meal in olive oil.

Since you are into restaurant review analogies when talking about Robert Cruickshank's propaganda, you might feel better if you just consider my comments as a bad yelp review.

But lets not pretend that Robert Cruickshank's propaganda is anywhere close to an honest assessment of the issues around HSR.

But please do reply as I find your attempts to redirect the issue away from Robert Cruickshank's use of suicides to further his own propaganda

[P.S. forgot to thank you for the delightful reference to Godwin's Law. I will be sure to invoke that every time I want to shut down the other side. But you will have to do better than this with me... I have lots of practice going toe-to-toe with the Repug in-laws.]

Looking forward to your next delightful comment. Please make it soon as I do have to do other things with the day other than talk about Robert Cruickshank's propaganda.

Spokker said...

At the end of this project Pat will sob and exclaim, "I could have got more. I don't know. If I'd just... I could have got more."

Pat said...

@Adirondacker --

It would lead to more automobile congestion and more air pollution. Putting up a fence is much cheaper than an overpass, if it was a viable option they would be using it.

So that means that if something is not being done right now it means there is a good reason for it? HSR isn't being done right now -- so there is a good reason not to do HSR?

Logic fallacy: "Presuming the conclusion".

FYI -- for the record. I,Pat Moore have been involved in supporting HSR for a long time I just don't favor it at any cost.

@Spokker --

Huh? I am sure you were trying to say something witty, but you only half succeeded.

Spokker said...

I could have gotten one more person... and I didn't! And I... I didn't!

Spokker said...

Robert is Goebbels. The Peninsula is the Jews. High speed rail is Zyklon B.

Got it, Pat.

Spokker said...

"FYI -- for the record. I,Pat Moore have been involved in supporting HSR for a long time I just don't favor it at any cost."

High speed rail for 40 billion? Good lord that's a lot of money. Okay, how 'bout I give you $1.25 and you push me around in a rickshaw?

Anonymous said...

What the hell is in the drinking water down there.

YesonHSR said...

looking around the web ..Nazis are exactly what some people call the Serria Club...Not nice is it?

Pat said...

@Spokker --

You and Bianca are cracking me up. Once again, you are ass-u-ming you know what I mean by "any cost" and you think I am talking about money.

$40 Billion doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I expect the final cost to be closer to $70 Billion.

I am referring to the habitat that CHSRA and Robert wants to plow under. I am referring to the alignment that has HSR go right next to the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery and through The Nature Conservancy's Mount Hamilton Project area.

But can I get a picture of you in that rickshaw? [BTW, you get pulled in a rickshaw not pushed. But then again you are putting the "horse" before the cart.]

@YesonHSR --

Oh, my feelings are soooooo hurt. I might just cry -- boo hoo. Considering that SC members have faced worse than name-calling, I will settle for mean names that hurt my feelings (boo-hoo).

@Spokker --

Robert is Goebbels. The Peninsula is the Jews. High speed rail is Zyklon B.

Really? didn't know that! But since you said it, it must be true! Be sure to get your tinfoil hat o.k.?

@Alon Levy --

Indeed, HSR is a secret plan to ship all of California's Jews to the gas chambers.

Wow, Robert is an anti-sematic?? I did not know that.

But why not address the central issue: Robert Cruickshank is a paid propagandist for CHSRA*.

Seriously folks. It would be great if Robert would decide to be more than just a CHSRA sockpuppet.

The reason why we don't have HSR already is the rigid insistence that the only way to build the system is over the Pacheco Pass.

Robert is doing nothing to help this dialogue, which saddens me.

* = by 'paid' I didn't mean 'paid' in money any more than Robert said what he meant when he accused the Palo Alto opposition as being pro-suicide.

YESonHSR said...

PAT your "Rep" is well documented on the is wonderful
If it is YOU well you have a mouth like something out of FOX NEWS..NO wonder the SerriaClub is falling out..just like GOP..Have any DONOR
"friends" in PA? Great rich yuppies
that "care" about the world..just as long as the 80GrandSUV has a road or sacrifice does not include mauch change in MY LIFE

Spokker said...

"I am referring to the habitat that CHSRA and Robert wants to plow under."

It would have been funny if birds ended up being more important than Peninsula residents when it comes to deciding the HSR route.

CHSRA: Yeah, we moved the alignment to Altamont.

Peninsula NIMBY: We won!!!

CHSRA: Well, no, the birds demanded it...

Alon Levy said...

Pat: when you keep making Nazi analogies, you shouldn't complain when people don't take you seriously. If Kopp and Diridon end up bulldozing every town between San Jose and San Francisco, Holocaust references will still be nasty and inappropriate.

Spokker said...

Heil Cruickshank!

Pat said...

@YESonHSR --

ROTFL!!! My "rep on google". Hah, hah. Oh I know you googled "Patrick Moore" and "Patrick Moore" is so very, very unique! Let me guess you think I was born in 1947 and that I am this guy. News flash. My mom was about 6 in 1947! Oh yes, I founded Greenpeace and I now run Greenspirit and I drink oil instead of tea. Or maybe I am this Patrick Moore. I rather do like the "Sir" part of things.

And yes, I am laughing at you. What a smuck to think that google will tell you who I am. Try again!

[P.S. I suggest you spell-check and re-read what you write before submitting. The last bit about Have any DONOR
"friends" in PA? Great rich yuppies
that "care" about the world..just as long as the 80GrandSUV has a road or sacrifice does not include mauch change in MY LIFE
was a little incoherent.]

@Spokker --

It would have been funny if birds ended up being more important than Peninsula residents when it comes to deciding the HSR route.

How about the 1 million or so residents of the East Bay who are getting shut out of any rail improvements? (Since the birds and the environment is not important to you)

I am not willing to destroy the environment to save the environment. But apparently you are. Did you ever meet a backhoe you didn't like?

And here I thought that HSR was all about saving the earth. Silly me!

Pat said...

@Alon Levy --

Oh spare me! I wasn't calling Robert anything more than a propagandist. Spokker started calling Robert anti-semantic.

If it makes you feel better can I just start referring to him as the Karl Rove of CHSRA?

Spokker said...

"How about the 1 million or so residents of the East Bay who are getting shut out of any rail improvements?"

Yes, your heart absolutely bleeds for those living in the East Bay.

Pat said...

@Spokker --

Actually yes. It does. A friend suffered for years trying to take the ACE train from Tracy to his jobs on the Peninsula. He didn't get much opportunity to be with his kids during the week. The Tracy/Stockton area has a higher than normal divorce rate caused by the long commute times. [Source: Elaine Shaw, a Congressional candidate who went up against Richard Pombo before Jerry McNerney took out Pombo]

So sarcasm aside. Yes that commute does upset me. Have you seen the parking lot called I-580? 10 lanes with no good alternative and CHSRA determined to keeping the divorce rate high by not building the needed rail infrastructure.

But hey, anyone who disagrees with ignoring the East Bay is evil.

I could cry or I could laugh at your willful indifference. So I will laugh.

Alon Levy said...

Do anti-semantic people hate the meaning of words? Or do they hate people who obsess over meanings of words? I'm not sure - I haven't heard that term before. Personally, I'm pro-semantic - I like having clear distinctions between "___ is an enthusiastic advocate for his position" and "___ is a Nazi." Do you disagree?

Spokker said...

So all I have to do to get my wife to leave is to take ACE? I say keep the damn thing around!

Take my wife, please, ACE!

Pat said...

@Alon Levy --

Sounds like very "deep" questions.

Yes, indeed.

@Spokker --

Glad to hear you really do not care for providing a transportation system for the Bay Area. Here is your rickshaw.

Dan S said...

While I think the safety improvements provided by grade-separating the corridor would clearly provide a reduction in suicides, its use as an argument for supporting those grade-separations is limited because it has the danger of unfairly pushing the buttons of the opposing side. The anti-Peninsula-HSR crowd is clearly not in favor of suicides; many of them are after all living right next door, and there is no justification for (explicitly or implicitly) accusing someone of favoring suicides in their own neighborhood.

Morris, your response is measured and well-stated and appreciated.

However, I would challenge those who are against elevating the tracks around the proposed new grade-separations to at least admit that it would provide a big improvement in safety to the neighborhood. And I think it's an important argument to make, it just needs to be presented in a respectful manner. Those safety improvements are not just a benefit to those living right next to the tracks, but they are also a vital asset to the community at-large.

I mean, I can certainly admit that there are "cons" to the Peninsula-HSR alignment, and I don't think it makes me unconcerned about suicide. However, in the final calculus, I still come out hugely in favor of the project and I'm sure rooting for its success.

That story about the man who died south of Diridon is chilling -- he waited for an ACE train to pass before sneaking through the gates, thinking they were just slow in lifting, only to be blindsided by an out-of-service Caltrain. Stupid, yes. Tragic, more so.

[And after re-reading these posts, it's a horrifying replay of the story Morris posted.]

Spokker said...

"Glad to hear you really do not care for providing a transportation system for the Bay Area."

If not taking you seriously means that I don't care about mass transit in the Bay Area, then consider me Randal O'Toole.

Pat said...

@Spokker --

Oh I stopped taking you seriously a long time ago myself, Mr. Rickshaw!

@Dan S --

Well said. I agree. Some homes are very close to the Caltrain ROW, as a result I suspect when all is said and done some crossings will simply be closed rather than elevate Caltrain.

Brandon in California said...

It was peninsula NIMBY's that first raised the Cold War era Berlin Wall analogy to describe elevated tracks as a scare tactic against HSR.

Additionally, it was peninsula NIMBY's that said an HSR tunnel would remove the rails as an opportunity for teens and others to attempt suicide.

And now this blog is being accused of propagandizing something? Oh gawd... who's calling the kettle black?

For me, I don't feel riders should be relegated to underground structures/tubes because it supposedly will be noisy or unsightly. Unfortunately with the Cold War and WWII analogies raised... I now have one... that riders forced into tubes would be treated like Jews headed to concentration camps aboard dark dank crowded box cars, complete with flood lights and barking dogs rolling through barbed wire gates. And the NIMBY's are siding with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denying that, "It never happened."

Freedom! I want that. I need that... the freedom to know where by looking out a window. To see and be seen.

Pat said...

@Brandon --

I agree. Since you feel so strongly about tunnels, I gather you support the Altamont Pass which has barely any tunnels much better than the Pacheco Pass which has about 16 miles of tunnels through a bunch of faults. I am sure you agree Palo Alto NIMBYs should just be bypassed and the HSR train should go over the bay at Redwood City.

Brandon in California said...

The CHSRA selected Pacheco, discussing the merits of one or the other is pointless.

Alon Levy said...

riders forced into tubes would be treated like Jews headed to concentration camps aboard dark dank crowded box cars

Indeed, my grandfather's description of why he jumped from the train to Dachau was along the lines of "It was really fast and comfortable, but it went in tunnels and that was depressing."

Spokker said...

This is the greatest thread in the history of passenger railroad discussion.

yeson1a said...

High Speed Trains run over jews

Pat said...

@Brandon --

The CHSRA selected Pacheco, discussing the merits of one or the other is pointless.

And the humor never, ever ends! Here are some other things that the CHSRA "selected":

1) They were going to run the train through the Henry Coe State Park.
2) They were not going to study the Altamont Pass.
3) A rail bridge over the Bay at Dumbarton would cost more than the new Bay Bridge.

Since you are a CHSRA follower, please don't mind if the rest of us ignore you and change already "decided" issues.

I have been around long enough politically to know any time a politician whips out the "its been decided" assertion, the politician has a weak hand and they are bluffing.

P.S. "CHSRA decided" is not legal.

Pat said...

So to recap:

yeson1a thinks that Robert Cruickshank believes that High Speed Trains run over jews

Alon Levy has learned that Robert Cruickshank believes the train to Dachau was ... "really fast and comfortable, but it went in tunnels and that was depressing."

Brandon in San Diego opines that
Robert Cruickshank thinks that operating HSR in tunnels is like Jews headed to concentration camps aboard dark dank crowded box cars, complete with flood lights and barking dogs rolling through barbed wire gates

Spokker thinks that
Robert Cruickshank is closer to Randal O'Toole than Robert Cruickshank is to Himmler

Alon Levy thinks that Robert Cruickshank is a Nazi

Of course none of you think any of this. However, you are willing to use the same innuendo and misquoting on others.

Brandon in California said...

Please keep writing. I am hanging on your every writen word.

Eric M said...


Apparnetly you discovered the old saying, if you say something enough, it will be true, i.e. "Roberts Propoganda".

But it's okay to believe your ideas about the way you want the high speed rail project to go and if we didn't, then we would be creating propoganda. Give me a break.

Don't cry when thigs don't always go your way.

Pat said...

@Brandon --

LOL. I actually am not talking with you (or Spokker).

You can leave at anytime.