Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Play To Block HSR Stimulus Funds

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

The California High Speed Rail Authority held its monthly meeting today, and included a project phasing workshop after the regular meeting, part of Chairman Curt Pringle's efforts to provide more opportunities for the public to get involved with providing feedback on the planning process. One of the outcomes of today's meeting was that the Authority is becoming more assertive in providing management and oversight:

Under the leadership of newly elected board chairman, Curt Pringle, the Authority created three standing committees:

* Executive Administrative Committee: Chairman Curt Pringle, Judge Quentin Kopp, Director Fran Florez
* Operations Committee: Directors Richard Katz, Rod Diridon, Jr. and Russ Burns
* Finance: Directors Tom Umberg, David Crane and Lynn Schenk...

Additional organizational transparency measures include maintaining and keeping current the California High-Speed Rail Authority Web site, posting all applications and other required documentation....

Discussed proposal for development of new “investment grade” ridership and revenue forecasts to assist in attracting public-private partnerships.

All of which is quite welcome.

The board apparently also discussed fast-tracking certain deadlines to enable more stimulus funding to arrive in California. It's hard to figure out exactly what this refers to - the article from ABC/7 in LA is written at something resembling a 6th grade level and is maddeningly vague. But whatever was discussed and decided, it was enough to provoke some of the usual suspects into their usual outrage:

"The biggest danger is that citizens don't get heard, alternatives don't get considered. They don't want to study any route alternatives. And to me, that's absolutely wrong when you're doing a $40 billion project," said Richard Tolmach, California Rail Foundation....

"You can't short-cut the process on a high-speed train. You end up with a mess," said Tolmach.

Tolmach is not being truthful here - the CHSRA spent 11 years studying route alternatives. He's just unhappy they didn't pick his preferred route.

More significant than Tolmach's desire to study the project until 2049 is his implication that stimulus funds are less important than building the project his way. This is a completely crazy approach, jeopardizing the entire HSR project and the federal funds it needs to be built over a relatively minor spat over a routing choice.

Tolmach is joined in working to undermine the HSR stimulus funds by the Planning and Conversation League, which last month sent this rather extraordinary letter to a bunch of state legislative leaders:

PCL Letter Re Budget Bill

The key section is quoted below:

Lastly, we would like to rebut several false claims made recently by the Authority. First, the Authority has made the claim that forcing them to do a thorough review of the Bay Area segment will cost the state Stimulus funding. This is not true. Work on the San Francisco to San Jose segment, beyond electrification of the existing tracks and work on the Transbay Terminal, will not qualify for stimulus funding since the environmental review is not currently scheduled to be done in time, even without a complete review of alternate alignments.

But that's not a widely shared point of view, particularly about the Transbay Terminal's eligibility for stimulus funds. However it is designed, the train box needs to be part of the TBT project from the start, and stimulus funds are part of how that will occur. PCL is willing to jeopardize that because of their desire to place a small piece of the project - the Altamont alignment - over the project as a whole.

PCL is also willing to make threats and pass it off as self-fulfilling prophecy, writing in the letter that unless the CHSRA does exactly what PCL wants, there will be more lawsuits, costing the state money. PCL claims that if CHSRA caves to their demands, the state will "save money in the long run" but it's unclear how a lawsuit would match the multibillion dollar HSR stimulus PCL is willing to risk here.

I've often stated my thoughts on Altamont vs. Pacheco: each has their pros and cons, but the decision has been made to route the long-distance trains over Pacheco, the high speed commuter trains over Altamont, and that it's time to accept it and move on for the sake of the entire HSR project.

By threatening HSR stimulus funds, groups like the PCL are showing that the HSR project as a whole isn't relevant to their work. There's no reason the CHSRA, the state legislature, the governor, or the people California should listen to such financially reckless thinking.


political_incorrectness said...

Not risking HSR dollars? Doing it right? Pfft, if we spend til 2049 it'll NEVER get done. They say we'd waste money, studying an option over AGAIN to have the same result is what I call wasted money.

Can we just get this thing built already? If they want to have it go via Altamont, then pay for it! Heck hijack the BARTs $7.5 billion extension to do it if you really want it! The PCL is even worse than the Peninsula at this point. Say, can NC3D get the animation going for an SF-SJ rendering to deal with the Peninsula so we can go forward march on the PCL's ridiculous demands? They're now a dangerous threat unless they are talking big.

Daniel Jacobson said...

More NIBMY lawsuits?

Spokker said...

I see the older generation trying desperately to block things like HSR funding, marijuana legalization and universal health care before they inevitably drop dead. I can only wonder why they don't enjoy their twilight years and stop fighting in a lost cause.

People like Morris Brown, for example, will die in 10 to 20 years. People like me, the 20-somethings who believe in universal health care, marijuana legalization, and yes, high speed rail and other forms of mass transit, will ultimately triumph by the time we are 40, 50 years old. We will change things.

It's anyone's guess why America wants to be the odd man out. We have a segment of this country that continues to fight the inevitable, things most other indstrialized countries have embraced.

In any case, I sincerely think about why people like Morris Brown waste their last years fighting this. Even my father's generation has the capacity to embrace something like high speed rail. They are indeed starting to turn around on the whole idea of the energy and environmental issues we face. But Brown's generation, they will soon be dead due to natural causes. Enjoy your last years stress free. Your opportunity to change the world is over.

If I'm 65 and still rabble rousing, please shoot me.

If Brown is younger than I think he is, than I offer my apologies, but goddamn, that guy looks old.

Morris Brown said...

Robert's essay today plain ignores facts.

Morshed at the board meeting a couple of months ago, laid out the projects that should be submitted for stimulus funding.

He said that SF to SJ could not meet the time deadlines imposed by the Feds for stimulus funding and told the hoard the So. California section did meet the criteria.

Diridon then went off on a rant; the Board over-ruled its executive director, the only technical professional since he is a civil engineer, and said SF to SJ would meet the deadline. All of this when HNTB in outreach to the public, was clearly showing a time line for EIR certification not being completed until third quarter of 2012 at the earliest.

So Tolmach's statements are to the point and so it PCL's letter.

Hopefully the Feds upon being so informed about what has taken place here, will take a hard look at all the stimulus funds the Authority has applied for --- Over 22 Billion I believe.

While I am at it, the Authority says they are going to spend 9 million on PR.

Now all the funds the Authority is spending at this time, are coming from Prop 1A bond receipts. (actually borrowed against yet to be issued Prop 1A bonds.)

Prop 1A funds usage is governed by restrictions in AB-3034. AB-3034 does not allow funds to be spent for PR. How can the Authority spend 9 million for PR when the legislature didn't approve the expenditure of funds for such a purpose?

No oversight I guess...

YesonHSR said...

Right on Spokker! its is mostly this type/age of people that are against HSR..WHY they are the Generation that came to age in the 50s Cars and the planned interstate freeways were the next generation of trasportation and gas was dirt cheap. They think everything is just fine as is..never mind the decades to come when they are long gone.I have even see this type of thinking on some railroad boards were many of the posters are in the late 60-70 they have to be..there talking about riding private passenger trains in the late 1950s and think that type of service is all we need

political_incorrectness said...

I smell some corruption in that lawsuit from Atherthorn. Talking with UP? Did they bribe him perhaps so they wouldn't be the ones having to go to court? Do they know he is going to fail? Why should he be interested in a corporation's interest?

@MB you've said this twice in recent posts and have no evidence. Where is the evidence?

Morris Brown said...

political_incorrectness said...

"@MB you've said this twice in recent posts and have no evidence. Where is the evidence?"

The audio(s) of the Athority's board meetings are on their site. You can listen, and perhaps see. That is the evidence.

Spokker said...

"its is mostly this type/age of people that are against HSR"

Or it's the Young Libertarian types who have just come on the scene with their knowledge of econ 101 and set their sights on HSR.


They forgot to finish their economics major which would have explained that while the free market is great and all... it has its flaws. They should really study Southeast Asia and how a range of economic setups, from free-market to planned economies, flourished, collapsed and flourished again.

dave said...

@ Daniel

Haha, the NIMBY's fear and desperation is showing. They're traped in the corner so they have to file lawsuit's on other's behalf. Not going to hold up in court!

Union Pacific has no interest in running Intercity passenger trains and should forfeit it's right immediately. It defenitely has the right to keep it's share of the ROW but only if it does not interfere with the public's interest, HSR.

Also note that UPRR wrote that letter in Feb, 09. Obama anounced his vision of HSR in April, 09. UPRR is not in the same position to fight HSR as it was when only California had the HSR proposal.

They will have to work with many other states where HSR is being proposed along their ROW.

Anonymous said...

UPRR has CHSRA by the balls. What can CHSRA do to UPRR??? UPRR isn't just going to forfeit rights. They are going to demand payment and/or concessions at a minimum.

If you think Obama and the federal government will try to lean on UPRR, there's not much they can do, and Obama's not going to waste his political capital on this.

dave said...

@ scared anonymous

You would like to think of UPRR as figure with "God-like powers" where nothing can stop it. But you seem to not realize that the Govm't gave UP and all other railroad's it's right's and powers for our country's and public good, back when the U.S was developing. Well right now the Country's good is transportation, specifically HSR.

In this scenario, the Govm't has ever power to strip UPRR and other RR's of their right's if it's in the way of a project for it's citizens.

Anonymous said...

Tomlach's statements on point? You mean to tell me 11 years + of study isn't enough for you? So how long should we study Morris: 12, 20, 30 years?

john said...

Sorry to burst your bubble there guys but go check out the new post on Clem's blog. Se rather than talking about the UP/caltrain contract in ingnorant terms like some of the deniers, Clem appears to have actually read the thing. Turns out that Caltrain has the right to unilatteraly kick UP off the ROW if they want to operate "a transportation system that is a significant change in the method of delivery of Commuter Service which would be incompatible with Freight Service on the Joint Facilities" (Section 8.3.c)

Sorry guys, if UP want's to play hardball Caltrain has the trump card.

dave said...

Haha, according to Clem on Caltrain High Speed Compatiblility Blog, this lawsuit might be good for the CHSRA. We might just settle this once in for all. Once it's over we can thank BART.

One less thing the NIMBY's can hide behind.

john said...

Also, it's not like the freight traffic on the Caltrain ROW is essential to UP's bottom line. Southern Pacific sold the ROW while trying to save the company by double tracking the Sunset Limited route to compete on long-haul freight. Even SP with their HQ at the foot of Market Street knew that the peninsula line had become largely useless for freight (The 100 year old SF tunnels are too short for double-stack container cars, and the Port of SF has been small potatoes since Oakland expanded their port facilities in the sixties)

Now, why exactly would the UP out of Omaha, with tens of thousands of miles of dilapidated railroad all over the west put up much of a fight?

b.patient said...

@ Dave
Not so fast - Clem clearly writes he doesn't know who is suing whom and for what reason.

His entire article is speculative. Let's see what they actually file before claiming victory!

Anonymous said...


You have absolutely no comprehension of history or government. Read some US railroad law. The Govm'nt has no powers to just strip UPRR rights. What totalitarian regime do you think this is?

This Peterson guy's lawsuit probably has no standing, and Clem does a good job to identify the UPRR's rights on the Peninsula could be abrogated by a specific clause once intended for BART. UPRR's true cards are its full control of its San Jose-Gilroy line and its Central Valley lines. CHSRA doesn't have recourse if UPRR just says, "No."

Andre Peretti said...

You equate age and conservatism. I am 74 and don't feel any more conservative than when I was 20. On the contrary, I feel things are moving far too slowly. Maybe an unconscious fear of not seeing projects come to fruition in my lifetime. Some people will cling to the past, whatever their age. In Corsican language we say of those people: "e natu vecchiu" = he was born old. I'm very surprised that so many Americans seem to have been born old.

lyqwyd said...


the gov does have the right of eminent domain, although I'm not sure if it applies to railroads, for all I know they may have some special exemption.

But, even if eminent domain does apply to railroads I think it is highly unlikely they would use that.

It's my opinion that UP is being a pain purely to extract the best terms under a negotiation, maybe they want the tunnels enlarged so they can run taller trains.

If UP really is taking a hardline and will not give up the intercity passenger rights there are still plenty of political avenues that could be used to pressure them without actually taking the ROW. Obama & congress could put lots of political pressure on them, they could pass a law taxing passenger rights at some extreme rate, but which would not apply to public usage forcing UP to sell, or any number of things.

Sure UP could fight back, but since they really have no interest or intent on actually running passenger rail service it's unlikely it would be worth it to them.

That's why I believe it's just a negotiating tactic on UPs part, they really have nothing to gain by keeping the rights, but could stand to gain by relinquishing them under negotiations.

To me the UP issue is, for the most part, irrelevant. It will probably cost something to get them, but probably not much in the grand scheme of things.

Adirondacker12800 said...

CHSRA doesn't have recourse if UPRR just says, "No."

But the Federal Government and the states UP operates in do. They can go over all the filings with a very fine toothed comb and find all sorts of things. ... that require UP to send all of it's engineers back to a three week training course...or the EPA and state environmental agencies can take a much closer look at all that toxic wastes that has been spilled over the decades on UP's property. Or decide that those wooden ties filled with cresote really are a health hazard and need to be replaced as soon as possible. They can gently remind UP of their powers of eminent domain.

UP's lawyers get paid to make loud ugly noises. That doesn't mean that UP is going to hold it's breath until it turns blue. They are going to whine and moan about how terrible all of this is and how much money it is costing them and the system will be built.

Anonymous said...

A bit more on the lawsuit

Anonymous said...

Eminent domain does not apply to UP.

Anonymous said...

Adirondacker12800 said...

responding to:

CHSRA doesn't have recourse if UPRR just says, "No."

But the Federal Government and the states UP operates in do.

What in the world would make you tnink the Fed would rule against the nationwide UPRR, such a major part of the nations economy, in favor of this pissy HSR project, out here in Calfironia.

Get Real...

flowmotion said...

The rhetoric surrounding this UPRR stuff stinks.

For years we were told that following existing freight railroad corridors was the cheapest/easiest/fastest way to get HSR built. PLUS, but this blog editorialized endlessly about the end of oil-based economies and how Rail was The Solution.

Now as soon as we run into some engineering obstacles, everyone has jumped on easy solution of "Hey just kill freight service!"

Not only is this short-sighted in terms of the overall goals, if you think you have NIMBY problems now, wait until you tell them you're putting hundreds more smoke-belching trucks on the road.

And I don't believe for a second UPRR's issues are limited to the SF-SJ corridor. Using freight ROW will pose problems all over the state. CAHSR is either going to have engineer around these issues, or rethink their ROW philosophy.

Tony D. said...


No one is talking about killing freight service! Where in the hell did you get that? Perhaps in corridors were freight is nill; once a day SJ-SF. But in other corridors, it's all about shared right-of-ways with UPRR. There's absolutely no way UPRR, or other freight operators, can stop CAHSR from building right along their corridors.

But of course, to some of you (mainly the HSR haters and NIMBY's) UPRR does have "God-Like powers," and are immune to U.S. laws and actions. Give us all a damn break, will yah!! They're a private company for Christ's sake!

Look, in the end, UPRR and other freight operators will get their share of the money pie and live happily ever after with HSR.

Nicolas said...

Will some users on the Peninsula continue to demand freight service, such as the Port of Redwood City and the Port of San Francisco? Even though they generate little traffic, I'm not sure that the cities would roll over that easily. GraniteRock, for example, filed a scoping comment requesting continued freight service to their facility in Redwood City.

Removing freight from the SF-SJ line seems to be kind of a straw man: yeah, you gain some technical flexibility, but it won't put the NIMBYs to rest.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

doesn't this statement sum things up and take away all the melodrama. Seems there's really no problem with UP

Mr. Miller said he is quite familiar with the UP agreement. He advised there is no legal
impediment to the Board proceeding with this agreement. What is significant for the public to
understand is that there is nothing in this agreement that purports to or abrogates or interferes
with existing contractual obligations to UP. This agreement constitutes a procedural framework
for HSR and Caltrain to plan together. This is the beginning of the process, not the culmination
of the process. That beginning anticipates meeting with, the communities. Additionally, staff
will be continuing to work with UP relative to its rights and obligations. It is worth noting that
there is nothing in the record by which UP has indicated an objection to the Board acting on this
agreement. Mr. Miller said the Board is authorized to enter into this agreement, recognizing over
time that staff will continue to engage in extensive conversations with UP.

NONIMBYS said...

DO you anno nimbys/deniers live here?? its one or two short freight trains a night! a basic short line railroad..IF UP wants to take over the CAHSR passenger operations good ..they have lots of money, but that piddle small freight along the Caltrain ROW is nothing to them..100s of trucks?please maby 100 a week!

Anonymous said...

I think we should do it right :-) We should build a rail track capable of 350 mph. Be serious. Until 2030 trains will already ride with more than 250 mph. I would rather spend more to have the best than to safe money and to have something equal to Acela Express.

Anonymous said...

Is this new news? "California’s high-speed train officials have formalized new cooperative agreements with bullet-train operators overseas.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority this week OK’d agreements with bullet train firms in Italy and Germany. Those deals are similar to cooperative agreements the authority already has with Spain, France and Japan." article

flowmotion said...

@ Tony D & NONIMBYS -

It shows how narrow-minded you are that you would automatically assume someone who supports freight rail operations on the Peninsula is a "NIMBY". That doesn't even make sense.

Discontinuing freight operations on the Peninsula would be incredibly shortsighted. The long-term economics favor rail for both passengers and freight, and you guys are advocating robbing Peter to pay Paul. Its a reactionary, peabrained idea.

And answer me this: if CAHSR can't figure out how to handle 2 freights a day, how are they ever going to manage to engineer their way through the Central Valley? All the same issues exist in every CV city. And the way this discussion is going, I am certain there will be many other freight segments deemed expendable when the time comes.

Clem said...

And answer me this: if CAHSR can't figure out how to handle 2 freights a day

Answer me how 101 can handle 2 M-1 battle tanks a day, and then you might understand.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rafael said...

@ flowmotion -

CHSRA will handle exactly zero heavy freight trains per day anywhere on its system. Safe operations at high speed require tight track geometry tolerances.

Maintaining those means limiting HSR tracks to equipment with low axle loads, the international standard is 17 metric tons. US-style heavy freight locomotives weigh in at around 30 and would chew up the track geometry in short order, massively increasing track maintenance overheads.

CHSRA has proposed a four-track solution all the way down the SF peninsula that would permit UPRR and Caltrain to keep operating heavy FRA-compliant equipment in the ROW. The idea of terminating freight rail between SF and San Jose only becomes relevant if NIMBYs should succeed in forcing CHSRA/Caltrain to put tracks underground, because it would be too expensive to build four tunnel bores. With just two, traffic would be limited to electric passenger trains that stay under the aforementioned axle load limit.

No-one is going to also maintain the at-grade tracks just so UPRR can run one freight train per day, it's just not economical. Besides, the real estate is extremely valuable, especially in the downtown areas of Menlo Park and Palo Alto, two of the cities that would need to come up with additional funds to pay for tunneling in the first place.

Morris Brown said...


Does your statement about the tight track alignment apply even if HSR was limited to slower speeds along the peninsula?

Thus they plan on at most going 125 MPH on that segment. At these slower speeds, is this tight track alignment still necessary?

BruceMcF said...

lyqwyd said...
"It's my opinion that UP is being a pain purely to extract the best terms under a negotiation, maybe they want the tunnels enlarged so they can run taller trains."

Note that the speculative news story about a possible lawsuit is not about UP suing, its about some third party saying they may or plan to sue based on UP's rights.

There's no real reason to even dig into the details until some court decides that the plaintiff has standing.

Until then, all the hyperventilating about the possible lawsuit, either pro or con, is so much white noise.

As far as UP in its actual right of way, it is obviously going to bargain hard and is going to fight like crazy to avoid establishing any precedent that will threaten its rights across its entire network.

Since the final outcome regarding contractual rights on the Caltrain ROW has less sweeping implications, it would not be surprising if it ends up acting as a bargaining chip in the process.

Alon Levy said...

Clem, an Abrams doesn't weigh a lot more than an 18-wheeler. I'm not sure what the effect of tracks are on road wear - if they spread the axle load, then a tank may well cause less road damage than a heavy truck.

BruceMcF said...

Morris Brown said...

Does your statement about the tight track alignment apply even if HSR was limited to slower speeds along the peninsula?

Of course - you'd not want heavy freight rail using track that was being run on at 160mph - but the tolerances are not as tight.

And there's also superelevation around curves ... track superelevated for 60mph traffic could certainly accept well packed medium container freight at 100mph around most curves, but not passenger traffic. Passengers may be self-loading freight, but we are anything but well-secured freight.

"Thus they plan on at most going 125 MPH on that segment. At these slower speeds, is this tight track alignment still necessary?"

With a fully grade separated ROW, obviously both Caltrain and the inter-regional HSR benefit from having a capacity to run in the range of 125mph-160mph, but that is clearly not required for all four tracks ... Caltrain locals could never attain those express speeds.

So the most capital efficient design is a pair of slow tracks used by Caltrain locals, the occasional freight, and Caltrain Expresses being passed by an HSR service, and a pair of fast tracks shared by HSR and Caltrain Expresses, supporting traffic somewhere in the 125mph-160mph range (for the most efficient operations that would of course involve a FSSF configuration).

Clem said...

The idea of terminating freight rail between SF and San Jose only becomes relevant if NIMBYs should succeed in forcing CHSRA/Caltrain to put tracks underground

Running heavy freight on the peninsula causes many more headaches than just for undergrounding.

Elevated structures need much gentler, longer approaches, nearly doubling the length of so-called "Berlin Walls" for grade separations.

Sunken structures require nearly twice the amount of excavation, again due to the gentle approaches, and would be avoided in favor of elevated structures for just this reason.

The general profile of the railroad would need to be straighter; freight trains are harder to handle on rolling terrain.

I find it ironic that Atherton folks are defending UPRR's rights when heavy freight would badly increase the blight in their town. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

NONIMBYS said...

Nimbys support the freight trains??
You kidding right??!!! YOU big babies are screaming about Caltrain horns now!!
SO PA/Atherton/Menlo support around the clock freight trains!!Good THEN UP should run 40 container trains a day thru these whinner towns..CAN you hear the screaming..You ball babies are lucky all the ocean freight went to Oakland

Anonymous said...

The UP won't fight with the Pelosi machine on the Peninsula. They will go along with the program.

Where I think they will draw the line in the sand is the Tehachapis and any other locale where a key route is constricted. Think the Santa Fe in the Abo Canyon. The UP is not going to want to see their freedom to reconfigure hampered by having the HSR on top of them.

Adirondacker12800 said...

What in the world would make you tnink the Fed would rule against the nationwide UPRR, such a major part of the nations economy, in favor of this pissy HSR project, out here in Calfironia.

Because the Federal government is going to be paying for a big chunk of the project. It has an incentive to keep costs down.

Railroads are highly regulated. The Federal government and states jerk them around all the time. How many decades does it take a railroad to abandon a money losing branch? How long does it take them to abandon a branch that is out of service because they no longer have any customers on it?
Even local governments get railroads to jump through hoops and spend lots of money. Railroads even get jerked two or three different ways by the different levels of government - the horn quandary in the past few weeks comes to mind. Federal government told Caltrain "you horns don't meet specs" The town then said "your horns are too loud"...

UP whines about how important every square inch of their expansive ROW in the Central Valley is, the state and the Federal government are going to say "you can give up half of it and still serve all of your customers and any you may have in the future"

UP wants to keep costs down too. What happens to their property tax bill when they sell half ( or all ) of the ROW to HSR? They are making loud ugly noises so they can negotiate a better settlement, they aren't going to block this in a significant way.

YESonHSR said...

off topic..but very interesting is a powerpoint persentation on the CAHSR web site from yesterdays meeting!! lots of info from a proposed timetable to timelines of construction and opening..A few teasers here...Redwood City is show as the mid stop...service as earlyas 2017 LA-ANA and LA-SanDiego as early as 2021 Enjoy!!

Anonymous said...

The critical test is national security. If it is deemed that freight service to the Peninsula is needed for defense purposes it will have to be accommodated.

It is long standing public policy that freight service is mandatory - trucks cannot handle heavy freight alone. But rail passenger service is optional - other modes can meet passenger needs. A good example of this is the Tehachapis, where there is no passenger service at all.

And the CHSRA has already declared for the record that the Tehachapis is the only way north out of LA. The route is crucial and mandatory for rail and freight trumps passenger for reasons of national security. End of story, without even having to resort to UP's property rights. The UP can insist there be no encroachment.

Anonymous said...

national security? that is reeeeally a stretch. Come on now.

Tramsorb said...

Those with a firm grasp on things realize that high speed trains won't be following the UP over the Tehachapis. No opportunity to photograph TGVs in the loop, sorry foamers. HSR designed for 250mph follows a much different geometry than 25mph freight trains.

So Anon, no need for UP out of the LA basin.

lyqwyd said...

It really doesn't matter if freight is kept or not. Even if the capacity were expanded to the maximum size freight trains, it would only probably add 1-2% to the construction costs of the entire project. The biggest impact would be the greater length of the grade separations in the peninsula due to the lower grade changes allowed by freight.

Ultimately it's not going to make a big difference, I think keeping the option of freight open is for the best (and it's the most likely scenario), but not really necessary.

UP will settle with HSR/Caltrain in the next few years and HSR will get built.

I doubt the feds really care about the Peninsula as a freight/ military/ security line, Oakland is much better for those sorts of purposes.

NONIMBYS said...

YA right..national security..the DOD pulled eveything out of the Bay Area years ago..what there going to reopen Hunters point shipyard?? HAA AND as posted nimby
HSR is not near UPs Row thru the mountains to LA...BOOO HOO another slap so you babies can CRY!!!

political_incorrectness said...

Could the Authority settle with UP with funds to purchase HS freight equipment to continue freight operations on the SF Peninsula?

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous (obviously his identity had to be hidden or he would have had to kill us) said, ominously (imagine generic 'Public Security Threat' music in the background):
"The critical test is national security. If it is deemed that freight service to the Peninsula is needed for defense purposes it will have to be accommodated.

The acid test here is whether the Peninsula is on STRACNET. From the map I have, it actually looks like it is (jpg).

Now, the DOD STRACNET process on a rail abandonment or change in rail status is not as cut and dried as Anonymous implies (obviously he could not actually give us too many authentic details, or he would have had to kill us). But it does imply that either the new corridor configuration provides freight access and respects the STRACNET loading gauge, an alternative freight alignment is found, or the DOD determines that the line can be removed from the Strategic Rail Corridor Network.

However, given that there is no HSR corridor design as of yet, there is no basis for claiming that there will be any permanent change in freight access, even if some people wish to dramatize it ... which makes the whole discussion seem to be mostly online hyperventilating.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this much ado about nothing? 4 tracks. one of which will be made available to UP as needed. There just isn't a problem here. Since most of the freight access is from the east side of the row, I think, then the eastern most track will be the one with access to the mainline. This keeps in line with running the local caltrains on the outside track with the platform height that works for the emu's and freight, and keeping the hsr trains on the center tracks with hi level boarding.
problem solved.

i know we can't solve to many problems cuz we'll run out of things to talk about. but really.... there's no issue here.

BruceMcF said...

jim, your sketch assumes no problems ... its probably better for operations for the slow lines to be on the inside, and the fast on the outside. Then when a local has to run "the wrong way", it will just mean running to the "wrong" side of the island platform, and the switching between the slow tracks do not have to cross-over two fast tracks.

But, certainly, whatever the layout, there is surely no trouble running the freight on the local track(s). Pretending there is seems to be one of those things that gets generated from the need to have something to hyperventilate about.

Oh, and the opportunity to use dramatic, expert-sounding phrases like, "the critical test is national security." I mean, wow, it sounds so expert and menacing at the same time, even if the foundation is silly.

Anonymous said...

red alert! danger danger will robinson! code black!

pass me a paper bag.

Anonymous said...

It seems unlikely the UP will oppose changes on the Peninsula relating to Caltrain or the hsr.

But in other areas I believe they will fight to keep the hsr significantly distant from their ROW. By distant I mean far enough away they could bring in lots of heavy earthmovers and not be anywhere close to the hsr. In good economic times the Tehachapi line is at or over capacity. In wartime it might be necessary to increase the line's footprint, just as the Sante Fe is doing currently in Abo Canyon. The UP is not going to want to be hassling with the underperforming hsr detour.

I would love to see the UP critique the hsr's Techahapi routing, but that would be clumsy strategy on their part. Of course the UP might not give a damn, but I would guess quite the contrary.

Grown.UP said...


Do you have to make references to babies every time you write a post?

You wrote:
YOU big babies are screaming about Caltrain horns now

and then:
BOOO HOO another slap so you babies can CRY!!!

and in another post:
Enough with the Stupid 101 ..its coming up that 140 year old Railroad and its NOT going to ruin ANYTHING..ultra sensetive BABIES!!

Are you OK?

This is a blog - and that means that people may post things you may not like. If you don't agree - that's fine. But calling everybody "babies" is just childish. If you get this upset - perhaps you shouldn't be here.

Anonymous said...

But in other areas I believe they will fight to keep the hsr significantly distant from their ROW. By distant I mean far enough away they could bring in lots of heavy earthmovers and not be anywhere close to the hsr. In good economic times the Tehachapi line is at or over capacity. In wartime it might be necessary to increase the line's footprint, just as the Sante Fe is doing currently in Abo Canyon. The UP is not going to want to be hassling with the underperforming hsr detour.

According the google earth map, HSR through the Tehachapis won't be anywhere near in the way of UP as it shows a completely separate row for most of the way. If im not mistaken.

Adirondacker12800 said...

Passengers may be self-loading freight, but we are anything but well-secured freight.

Even if they are well secured when the track geometry and speeds aren't good their contents tend to slosh. It causes conflicts with information coming in from other inputs in their self stabilizing system. They have differing reactions to the conflict. It will trigger an emergency expulsion of recently acquired contents in some of them. Passengers find it unpleasant, both the ones experiencing it and the one witnessing it. So do the cleaning crews.

Or less politely - wouldn't track like that make people train sick?

Then when a local has to run "the wrong way", it will just mean running to the "wrong" side of the island platform, and the switching between the slow tracks do not have to cross-over two fast tracks.

Why would they be crossing express tracks to get to a track that is out of service?

If the service is so low frequency that they can run all the locals on one track they won't be switching from the "wrong" track to the "right" track with either island platforms or side platforms. All they have to do is close the platforms on one side and have everybody - in both directions - use the same platform. Just like they would with an island platform. If it's low frequency chances are good it will also be a low frequency time for the expresses, so there would be plenty of time to cross express tracks when they need to, if they need to at all.

If there is so much traffic they can't run on one track, the local can run express to the next express station and passengers have to take the local going in the other direction to get to their station. Both happen all the time on the NYC subway.

In high frequency scenarios they don't have to cross the express track, they would be on it....

NONIMBYS said...

@Growup...well nimby babie must get you upset..then again babies cry at the least things..dont they?
Stupid Nimby ideas like spending billions for tunnels or running up 101 just to pacify some spolied rotten BABIES THAT MOVED NEXT TO A 140 YEAR OLD RAILROAD are going to get called it or not..