Sunday, October 25, 2009

The View from the Cab

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

by Rafael

one way to discover how HSR operators in other countries have built their infrastructure and run their trains is to tag along in the driver cab, at least vicariously.

Series 500 Bullet Train

The following YouTube video is part 1 of an eight-part series tracking the progress of a sixteen-car series 500 bullet train from Hakata (Fukuoka) to Tokyo on the Sanyo and Tokaido shinkansen lines traveling in "nozomi", i.e. express, mode at a top speed of 300km/h (186mph). The audio is in Japanese, but the author has kindly provided limited translation.

(Playlist for parts 2 to 8)

Total trip distance is 1069km (664mi), part 6 includes the "rollercoaster" section between Toyohashi and Laka Hamana. Operated jointly bby JR West and JR Central with a change of drivers at Shin-Osaka. Dwell times at run-through stations are around 50 seconds, this is normal in Japan. The journey as such is entirely uneventful. Infrastructure is supposed to be this dependable!

For our purposes, it's perhaps the design of the line that is of greatest interest: at-grade vs. elevated vs. trench vs. tunnel structures, selective use of sound walls, speeds through populated areas, fences etc. Also, contrast the graceful design of the train - inspired by the streamlined shape of a kingfisher breaking the water's surface without creating much of a ripple - with the ugly headspans.

Series 700 Bullet Train

Also informative is this in-cab video of a series 700 bullet train, the successor to the sleek but expensive series 500. This design features a duck-billed nose that minimizes tunnel boom and susceptibility to sway in heavy cross-winds and when passing high speed trains approaching from the other direction.

Note that the Japanese obsession with punctuality isn't just a source of personal pride for the impeccably dressed bullet train drivers but rather, an operational necessity: in many sections, the existing lines are at capacity, so drivers are expected to stick as close as possible to timetables that are prescribed down to the second. The Tokaido shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka supports a total of 285 trains on weekdays. It is headway constraints rather than a lack of engineering chops that force most Japanese bullet trains to travel (at slightly) lower speeds than their counterparts in Europe.

To activate close captioning in (somewhat broken) English, please click the up arrow on the lower right. Keeping the mouse button pressed, slide up and toggle the CC icon.


If you prefer a running narration in the Queen's English, below is the first video of a similar series documenting a Eurostar trip from Paris to London (h/t to Trains4America). The video was produced in 2004, three years before the second portion (CTRL2) of the High Speed 1 line in the UK was completed. Parts 11 and 12 of the series are now only of historical interest.

(Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

The UK is not a signatory to the EU's Schengen Agreement. The British government therefore required border controls including dedicated boarding platforms at all Eurostar stations in France even before the Al Qaeda terrorist bombings on the London Underground. Security consists of running your ticket through a bar code reader at a turnstile, your bags through a scanner and walking through a metal detector. With no baggage handling to contend with, passengers can arrive at the station as little as 10 or 15 minutes before their train leaves.

The first thing you'll notice is that the overhead catenaries feature poles not headspans. Also note the lateral distance to the nearest buildings and embankments/retaining walls on the way out of the French capital. The speed limits there may have more to do with signal block length and associated headways (i.e. emergency braking distance) on the regular network than with concern about noise: one section of the line supports a total of over 200 trains on a weekday. Out in the undulating countryside, extensive cut-and-fill earthworks were needed to keep the ruling gradient to 1:40 (i.e. 2.5%).

Lille, a city of a million inhabitants, got SNCF to run the line to the UK through its downtown area. French mayors and local business leaders understand that "beet field" stations like Haute Picardie make it much more difficult to attract the inward investment they need to compete with the Île-de-France region surrounding the capital. The section through Lille features tunnels, trenches and elevated structures with tall sound walls through residential neighborhoods. Some connecting regional trains depart from Lille Europe, many others from the legacy Lille Flandres station about 1/4 mile away, a single stop away on the local metro and tram lines. Passengers can also choose to walk through a shopping-mall-cum-conference-center.

Eurostar trainsets feature two tractor cars plus motors on the first bogie of the passenger cars immediately adjacent to the tractor cars, for a total of 12 powered axles. Total rated power is 12,200kW (16000bhp). In the event of an emergency, a single tractor car is sufficient to pull the trainset out of the Channel Tunnel, where the speed limit is 160km/h (100mph) for passenger and 100km/h (60mph) for freight and car/truck ferry trains. Along the route, the train has to adapt to four different signaling systems, multiple pantograph settings and two electrification systems. The 750VDC third rail pickups are no longer needed now that CTRL2 has been completed and trains terminate at St. Pancras International, shaving more than 20 minutes of the nominal line haul time and substantially improving punctuality.

Since the summer of 2009, Southeastern Highspeed regional trains also use the new High Speed 1 infrastructure. The series 395 "Javelin" trainsets have a top speed of 140mph and will provide frequent shuttle services between downtown and the sports venues in the East End during the 2012 Summer Olympics.


- operators all use automatic train control systems that engage the brakes if drivers ignore speed limits that are signaled in their cabs. In addition, the infrastructure operators have central facilities for managing traffic on the lines.

- high speed trains do run through suburbs and rural towns at 200-300km/h (125-186mph) in both Japan and Europe. Shinkansen lines typically run through Japanese towns on elevated structures, whereas European planners prefer to run trains at grade and construct numerous road overpasses.

- however, where the line runs (relatively) close to existing buildings, speed limits are either much lower or else noise is mitigated with sound walls and/or soundproof windows installed at the railway's expense.

- expensive tunnels into downtown areas of large cities are worthwhile IFF there is excellent connecting transit and/or transit-oriented development in the immediate vicinity of the station. Both can significantly increase ridership.


Alon Levy said...

Just one comment: on the Tokaido Shinkansen, the speeds are lower because the line was constructed in the 1960s, with curves built to support 200 km/h rather than 300. The newer Sanyo Shinkansen does support 300 km/h, and soon the Tohoku Shinkansen will, too.

Rafael said...

@ Alon Levy -

you're right, the Tokaido shinkansen was the first of the lines to be built, back in the 1960s. Both the line and the original series 0 bullet trains were built to support cruise speeds of 210km/h (130mph).

However, even the most modern trains cannot run much faster there because of the large number of trains sharing the line and implementing multiple service levels.

The newest high-speed lines in Europe are all built for 320-360km/h in commercial operations, in anticipation of future customer demand for higher speeds and train control systems that can handle those speeds. On some Italian lines, it's the 3kV OCS voltage that is constraining new lines set up for 300+ km/h to operate at just 250 km/h for now.

However, already-saturated lines such as Paris-Lyon could not be upgraded to support speeds above the original 300km/h (186mph) without adding tracks or eliminating stops at secondary stations.

Top speed on a given line is always the result of a complex mix of factors, including train technology, train control/traffic manangement, track geometry, OCS parameters, service frequency and service patterns.

YesonHSR said...

Eurostar has the look of what the MidwestHSR Should be. Not that 110mph system..Here in California the system will match the new Spanish line..thou Im hoping for the AGV from Alstom

Anonymous said...

Yes alstom agv for sure...

where's the videos for that?

but the white gloves are a nice touch.

Anonymous said...

everytime they use that notch thing there;s this tone, and it sounds exactly like the one I hear everytime I go into 7-11!!

Anonymous said...

The only thing I don't get is this. all the videos that show both japanese and european trains leaving from the big downtowns, not only take some time to get up to any real speed, but also travel on very curvy tracks so I don't know why all the fuss over the 4th street and tbt curves. when cleary the trains will be running slowly.

Joey said...


Tight curves are one thing, 150m curves are quite another. It has been mentioned that some currently operating trains (Japanese, IIRC) cannot physically support such narrow curves, and in any case, they would mean squeaky wheels and increased track and train maintenance costs throughout the system. Also, the curves still must support some decent speed - especially the 2nd-Townsend curve, which is a considerably distance from the station. And let's not forget that slower curves mean less station throughput, a critical issue at the space-constrained Transbay Terminal.

josh said...

Another important/relevant takeaway on the Eurostar is to emphasize the point that you made re: Lille.

What would otherwise be an unremarkable small city (a 'flyover' city, if you will) has become a destination and lucrative transit point because of the Eurostar stop. It has meant investment in its transportation infrastructure and connections (with direct TGV service to much of France, in Paris-avoiding routes) to the benefit of its residents and tourists.

The same thing has happened (and will happen) with Ashford and Ebbsfleet in Kent (on the English side).

Anonymous said...

Russ Peterson, the plaintiff in the second lawsuit against the Authority release a letter, explaining facts and countering a recent article in Wired.

The Title is:

A Counterpoint In California’s High-Speed Rail Debate

the link is:

This should provoke Robert and others.

BTW, on the Authority's website now are the stimulus funds applications.

Totally amazing numbers.

Rafael said...

@ josh -

The Lille MSA is home to a million people, making it the fourth largest city in France. If you include nearby cities in the Belgian part of Flanders, which is just across the border, the number is close to two million.

However, like many other industrial regions in the developed, Flanders has had to struggle with the decline of traditional manufacturing industries like textiles and re-invent itself by attracting innovative high-tech companies and service providers. And that is precisely where the TGV connection comes in.

In that sense, Lille is perhaps more akin to Fresno than to Ashford in Kent (UK). Primarily as a consequence of a federal ruling to restrict the volume of water pumped up from Tracy, the economy in Fresno county is rapidly losing its traditional agricultural base.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 5:54am -

Russ Peterson is being a legalistic busybody.

Union Pacific transferred responsibility for intercity passenger rail operations on its network to Amtrak in 1971.

Southern Pacific did not and explicitly retained the rights to operate intercity passenger rail services in the context of the 1991 sale of the SF peninsula corridor to the PCJPB.

A couple of years later, UPRR bought SP and with it rights and obligations in the SF peninsula. However, SF to San Jose is not considered an intercity route and UPRR isn't interested in reversing its 1971 decision.

IANAL, but it's entirely possible that in ridding itself of any obligation to run intercity passenger trains, UPRR actually gave up any rights to do so. If so, any related rights that SP had retained may well have been rendered null and void. Some legal eagle would have to delve into the National Passenger Railroad Act of 1970 and its updates plus related jurisprudence to clarify that.

However, given that UPRR doesn't appear to have the slightest commercial interest in delivering passenger service, the legal point is anyhow moot IMHO. The railroad's lawyers did rattle their sabers a little when they mentioned the rights SP had retained to CHSRA. Fine, saber-rattling is part of their job, they could probably tie PCJPB and by extension CHSRA up in court for a while.

Realistically, they would only do so if either party were to try to force them to modify or abandon freight service in the SF peninsula or, to acquire ROW elsewhere in California, against UPRR's will.

Since neither PCJPB nor CHSRA have indicated they are spoiling for a fight with UPRR, there isn't even a storm in a teacup here - no matter how dearly NIMBYs like Russ Peterson would like to stir one up.

Andre Peretti said...

Lille is a very interesting case study.
Once thriving thanks to its textile industry, it had become a backwater when everything was outsourced to low-wage countries. A transfer to Lille was then considered the harshest punishment for a state functionary!

The Eurostar, Thalys and TGV have completely transformed the city. It is now not only a hub, but a destination in itself. Indeed, it has become one of the most vibrant cities in France, with music and art festivals and commercial fairs attracting people from all over Europe. Drab streets whose only decoration was "For Sale" signs are now lined with luxury boutiques and cafés.
This has only been possible because socialist local politicians and conservative business people decided to forget party dogma and got to work together. They all understood there was a golden opportunity for the city, and no time for politicking.
Without this all-party wholehearted commitment, Lille would have remained a "fly-over" city.

Anonymous said...

Great video - because it proves what's been said by opponents - nasty, blighted, disgusting. If you think this will be allowed to scar the Peninsula like this, you're dead wrong.

By the way sound proof glass might solve the noise problems for people inside buildings, but when you're running directly through/adjacent to neighborhood features where people are primarily outside - like schools and parks - sound proofing on buildings doesn't do squat. The mitigations will be speed limits, and speed limits will kill this project.

looking on said...


You have posted a similar reply to the question of UPRR rights on the CalTrain line before.

Apparently the lawyers think otherwise, and it is more than just inter-city passenger rights to which they have a say.

If you read their track rights agreement you see they can virtually veto any change with the claim that it will affect their operations.

A year or so ago, this blog was constantly posting that UPRR was just positioning itself for a better deal on a buy out. I don't hear that much anymore.

When the CHSRA lost the lawsuit, they now face a formidable task, as you yourself have noted, in figuring out how to get to the central valley --- leaving San Jose is not easy and it won't be cheap.

There will be other lawsuits to be sure. The project scoping reveals many groups opposed to Pacheco; whether they will file against the upcoming EIR, who knows?

As communities realize that the proposed train will come barreling though their cities at 200 MPH or so, creating noise equivalent to a jet plane at the end of a runway, more and more opposition will arise.

You were one of the very first to realize how these impacts would materialize in opposition --- I remember well your posting where you correctly stated referring to Palo Alto, "it went over like a lead balloon."

You are pretty much a realist; this project needs new leadership and direction, otherwise it will just piss away several billions and nothing will get done. Of course, PB will still be walking their checks to the bank.

Rafael said...

@ looking on -

so, is UPRR suing PCJPB? No. It's just a bunch of anti-rail peninsula folks who have a wet dream that they will.

For the record, while a number of commenters (Tony D. comes to mind) did assert that UPRR's stance was just a negotiating ploy, I've never been convinced by that argument nor do I recall ever advancing it myself.

Rather, UPRR's position has long been that HSR is supposedly incompatible with its freight rail operations, even if HSR runs on adjacent tracks. The concerns raised were and still are the knock-on effects of accidental freight train derailments and cargo spills. In addition to the potential for human tragedy, there is the legal liability.

I've both commented and posted on multiple occcasions that CHSRA needs to establish a relationship based on mutual trust by hiring a senior railroad operations manager with extensive experience in the US. UPRR isn't even going to begin talking about dollars and cents until and unless its own operations staff declares that the safety issues are manageable.

Interestingly, UPRR has only invoked these safety concerns in relation to the sale of ROW that it owns outright, i.e. where the freight tracks are in a relatively poor state of good repair. Track maintenance costs money and UPRR isn't interested in investing more in it than absolutely necessary for freight operations.

Anonymous said...

A couple of more youtubes - these are trains at 200kph /125 mph.

Brandon in California said...

The view is truely unique. Why, because few of us actually get to see it except via a video. Doh.

Anonymous said...

railroads fighting new safety regulations and against positive train control systems. Unions support safety and PTC.

Anonymous said...

Anon, what blight did you see? If the trains can run in paris they can certainly run in the likes of menlo park. At what point in history did folks on the peninsula get the idea they were living in beverly hills.

The peninsula was cities stared as a series of railroad towns and became the industrial base for san francisco. I don't know if its still there, but even ssf had a slogan on the side on san bruno mountain. "the industrial city"

If you drive down the 101 or take caltrain dow from sf, the majority of the row of both the freeway and the railroad is already "blighted" well, you call it blight, what it actually represents is industry old and new. To somehow get the idea that a string of two bit former industrial railroad towns in the middle of the bay area, are really some kind uf uber special environmentally sensitive treasures is ludicrous.

Any of you from socal, if you haven't been up here, i suggest you come up and visit and take yourselves a little caltrain trip between sf and sj and take a good look at that row. Its a dump. any cahnges made would be an improvement.

Trashy backyards, white trash above ground pools, falling down fences, abandoned building, tired apartments complexes. garbage, graffiti, etc.

You know those parts of LA that were new in the 50s but now look like endless miles of strip malls and stucco homes. Thats the peninsula. Don't let these people tell you otherwise. And the train station in Palo Alto. Its a run down dump too and there's garbage strewn about the parking lot.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see what kind of exhorbitant safety regulations are required where HSR passenger and freight are planning to co-mingle, within feet of homes, schools and park, no less.

Now, the Eurostar video in this post talks about the extensive security process for boarding this train. Most posting on this blog claim that CHSR stations won't have security issues like airports - but this video makes it look just like boarding plans at airports. Did CHSRA include the operational costs for extensive security at their stations? And what about the time that passengers and trains will be spending on security? Is that included in the models as well?

Anonymous said...

anon, euorstar is not cali hsr. cali hsr is like the rest of the euro trains. cali hsr is not an international proposition. Further, even the high security on eurostar is a simple walk through that takes seconds and nothing like current airport security.

Anonymous said...

okay peninsula don't get it twisted... some views of what the vast majority of what that row looks like, and at the end, a very attractive solution/improvement







attractive improvment

Anonymous said...

Lille = Fresno????

Fresno Amtrak ridership: 274,000 per year

Lille ridership (before tgv): 15 million

Fresno public transport: some buses

Lille: buses, trams AND a subway system

Lille: At confluence of 5 different autoroutes

Fresno: on highway 99

Lille: density of 15,000 per mile

Fresno: 3,000 per mile

Jarrett Mullen said...

@ Anon 10:49
Stop the hyperbole! Freight trains mix with higher speed trains all around the world! Every day! Even in urban areas! It’s all done without massive damage to property and human life, too.

Like Jim said, the Eurostar undoubtedly has customs screening and security because it is an international service. CAHSR is not international and it doesn’t even leave the state. As for time, I checked the Eurostar website and business class passengers are allowed to board 10 minutes before departure time. Cattle classes must board 30 minutes before departure. While JR and SNCF recommend arrival 30 minutes before departure, I, along with many other passengers, have boarded the Shinkansen with minutes to spare.

Anonymous said...

Problem is Jim, you didn't post any pictures of suburban neighorhoods of (for example) Palo Alto, which will be blighted. You took for example, a view from UNDERNEATH the oregon expressway underpass which (a) according to the last eir isn't even slated for improvement by chsra (b) is known to be a 60 year old eye-sore area (c) isn't where people live. Unless of course you're a bridge dwelling troll.

And the other areas you've chosen (hillsdale crossing, redwood city overpass from El Camino looking onto a very wide area of the tracks) is representative of areas that are already blighted, NOT of the areas of neighorhoods and schoolyards. Why don't you take a look at picture from the Peers Park Tennis courts, or from the Alma at Addison Avenue - and get pack to us when you have a clue.

So again, HSR foamers using dishonesty to support their claims.

Peter said...

Re: Security on Eurostar

Eurostar travels through the Chunnel, which is a highly vulnerable transportation link between England and France. They HAVE to check for bombs and the like before letting trains through.

Also, as stated above, the UK is not a signatory to Schengen. Therefore you HAVE to go through customs before going into the UK.

There won't be anything similar to the Chunnel along the CHSR route. Therefore, no need for the same level of security.

Also, as stated above, CHSR will not be conducting any cross-border operations. Therefore, there is no need for customs.

NONIMBYS said...

AAA nimbys are back..What little palo alto online not have any scare stories to print..blighted PA please!!!if it runs thru PARIS then it can run thru arrogant Hotterville on that 140 year old track! since its "already' blighted as much as it can be

Anonymous said...

anon 11:47 I cleary stated in my post "what the vast majority of the row looks like" not 100 percent of it. and the total mile or two out of 800 that will be impacted will be mitigated and that is what is under review. You live in a city that is insignificant in the grand scheme of california things.

missiondweller said...

Anonymous: What do you even mean by blight? To me that's boarded up buildings.

In place like Menlo Park and Palo Alto they already have Caltrain. Is it blight?

I can understand why these neighborhoods would push for a trench vs. skyway but to try to ban it as blight seems like a real stretch or a missunderstanding of what blight is.

BTW the videos are great and a good reminder that cahsr is not a "crazy" idea but mearly catching up with the rest of the developed countries.

Anonymous said...

I would still maintain that solutions such as these are vastly more attractive look than what currently exists.

Peter said...

@ Jim

But that would mean that an elevated track can look good. We can't have that.

Must ... keep ... denying ... reality ...

Anonymous said...

Belmont is actually a fine example.
Nice, pedestrian-scale open access under the station. Where's the barrier?

Compare to the fortress labyrinth that is California Avenue in Palo Alto.

Anonymous said...

Jim, what you continue to show are sections that are not the context of the areas that are in objection - you are showing commercial or industrial built up areas. (Which is basically saying - you don't know what the hell you're talking about in terms of the areas that are having the problem OR you know perfectly well but are being deliberately obtuse, or afraid to address those truly impacted neighborhood areas.

Elevated and walls are not appropriate in the context of the neighorhood areas. And I'm glad you agree that this is not 100% of the ROW, but rather a small portion of it, so the tunnels that CHSRA will build and fund here are really immaterial issues in the larger scheme of getting HSR done AT ALL (but monumental do-or-die issues to the towns, schools and neighborhoods that will otherwise be scarred.) So. CHSRA and supporters will continue to be mired in the deep mud in a few small areas, for really completely avoidable reasons, or they'll do the simple math and propose appropriate solutions for those communities. If they don't have appropriate solutions or can't afford the appropriate solutions - they'll get shut down - through political fights, through lawsuits, through ballot measures, or every and any other means possible or impossible.

That you fail to, refuse to, or are completely ignorant to the actual issues for these neighborhoods makes you the CHSRA poster boy on this problem, because that's precisely the issue here. Failure or ignorance of the CHSRA on this matter.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with any of those stations or nore do they look blighted and yes much of the CaltrainROW is in need of an upgrade

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:53 - you also show a commercial area, not a neighbohood scaled area.

Can anyone show an HSR line through running literally through backyards and schoolyards? Lets see the wonderful improvement HSR lines can make through such an area.

Peter said...

Given the source that Jim was using (Google Maps Streetview), there was an inherent limitation to the pictures he was showing. He couldn't really show any locations where the tracks don't meet with roads.

NONIMBY said...

YA nimby Aclea runs right past a major university and MUCH nicer homes than tick tack track homes that line the ROW here in Cali. Really stop the great horror victim whinning "parent"

dave said...

Finally some more progress on the Altamont HSR Corridor. This is exciting!

CHSRA Newsletter

lyqwyd said...

Anon, you might not be aware of this, but those homes and schools were built after the rail line. Many years after.

So basically, what you are complaining about is that once HSR is finished, the people who today hear trains and horns today, and were fully aware that they were choosing to live in a place where they would hear trains and horns, will only have to hear trains, but no horns.

And somehow this is going to make their life unbearable, and students unable to learn.

Sure, makes sense to me...

Rafael said...

@ lyqwyd -

to reinforce your point, here's a video of existing train operations at the Menlo Park station.

Caltrain causes significant toxic and noise emissions right now. HSR is the only way that service is going to get both full grade separation and electrification in the foreseeable future, precisely because both debt service on both the BART extension(s) and HSR will weigh down on state and federal taxpayers for quite a while.

Instead of freaking out about HSR, perhaps residents of the mid-peninsula should take a more critical look at what they - and their children - are already forced to put up with on a daily basis. You can't assess change rationally if your baseline is unrealistic.

Al2000 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Al2000 said...

@ Jim

That "7-11" ping-pong sound you hear is a warning to the driver that the "track speed" (that is the max speed of the track) is changing.

Al2000 said...

@Jim - By the way

In the second video about 4 minutes in you get a lot of those "ping-pong" warnings because the Shinkansen "we" are on is follow closly behind another one.

So the maximum allowable speed keeps changing. And Mr. Sato has to keep matching that max speed if he wants to stay on schedule. He can't just drop back and let the train get ahead. He has to stay right on the other trains rear end.

I really like that second Shinkansen video. People should watch it all the way through. Lots of good info. It is amazing how they stay on time to the second. That is how you run a railroad.

flowmotion said...

@ Rafael -

One important point about your video is that those nice trees in the background are located within the ROW. So this is a great example of a place where there will likely be a tradeoff between noise pollution and a less hospitable 'barrier' of some sort. It will be interesting to see how this is resolved.

ROW map
street view

Plus the great thing about NIMBYs is that know *exactly* what parts of their backyards are blighted and how. So I'm not sure if Jim's line of argument is all that convincing.

Anonymous said...

What's it with Americans and level crossings?

Gates closed, lights flashing, bells ringing, the lights on the train flashing and the horn blaring. And despite all this you can find dozens of videos of people slaloming between the gates to get hit by a train.

Are all of them deaf, blind and stupid?

Anonymous said...

Elevated and walls are not appropriate in the context of the neighorhood areas.

OK, keep the tracks at grade then, just the way they are. Building road underpass grade seps will suck, but such is the cost of beauty.

Can anyone show an HSR line through running literally through backyards and schoolyards?

Here or there or elsewhere. 4 tracks, 125 mph.

Peter said...

@ Anon 4:09

Well, if you watch the top gear video on level crossings, you can see the problem is not confined to the U.S.

NONIMBYS said...

Most of the trees are on railroad property and should not be there as its just junk trees and brush..that what gives these people the idea they dont even live next to a railroad .Try using Google and take a look riding down Alma steet and see " beautiful" town..then look at the San Carlos station..besides trees DO grow back so plant some in your yard ..and im sure they will replant some so your world will not be ruined by seeing the tracks you moved next to.

Owen Evans said...

I'm sick of this notion that the Neighborhood is the sacrosanct embodiment of all that is Holy. When it comes down to it, neighborhoods are just real estate. Land uses and built environments can and should change and evolve. Learn to cope & live with it, people!

Peter said...

In Siegburg, the ICEs are permitted to pass through the station at 300 km/h. From Google Maps it appears that there are houses within less than 100 feet from the tracks. And yes, the stretch is at least 4 tracks wide.

Here a different location on the same line, near Cologne. 6 Tracks Speed limit of 125 mph. And it's SIX tracks wide. Note the houses right next to the tracks.

Peter said...

I'm sorry, the speed limit south of Siegburg is 300 km/h. Through Siegburg the limit is 200 km/h.

Spokker said...

I jerk off to catenary wire so I'm not really qualified to participate in a discussion about railroads as blight.

But I will say that the view from the cab is probably "uglier" than the view from outside of the right of way.

Spokker said...

Also, they didn't just release a business plan, but they made a video business plan movie! Suck on that, NIMBY scum!

Spokker said...

Forgot the link!

Anonymous said...

That's not a business plan, it's propoganda.

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

Peter, thanks for the link. Perfect illustration of how HSR does not belong in backyards. That's EXACTLY what they're afraid of. That would be a great link to send to Arnold and Obama and Pelosi and Feinstein, a few others, and see how happy they are to shove that down the Peninsula's throats. In fact, the Peninsula Nimby's really only need to put that picture on a billboard, and it'll be game over.

Owen E - real estate uses change - get used to it... that's an interesting point - because these foamers keep saying 'the railroad was here first'. Well, rail ROW not the highest and best use of this real estate anymore- so the railroad can go screw itself. Nimbys, voters, citizens, or property owners - whatever you want to call them - they'll get it all shut down come hell or highwater. Keep it in this row, and you've got nothing but fight on your hands.

And by the way, the railroad was built by Leland Stanford, basically at the same time the town was built. So for all intents and purposes, No. The town of Palo Alto (which at the time was called Mayfield, formed in 1855. The grounbreaking for the railroad was in 1861. The first locomotive named 'The Governer Stanford' in NOv 1863. The University Caltrain station was first built in 1897 and Paly was founded in 1898, but Mayfield had schools since 1855.

The railroad basically grew up at the same time as the town.

And so even being that you're wrong about the railroad being here 'first' - this argument about railroad gets 'first dibs' because its been there forever? The poorest logic known to man - its kindergarten logic. If its accurate, then we should in fact return the lands to the native Americans - Because in fact, the Ohlone's were here first. In fact, their bones are still there, and will end up being a major reason why CHSRA won't be disturbing the lands around the San Francisquito bridge. So, irony of all irony's I guess I'm wrong - first ones here WILL get first dibs.

Peter said...

Well, what the picture says is debatable.

As Spokker said, the view from the cab is a lot "worse" than the view from the sidelines.

If you'll note, the houses aren't "blighted." Unless your definition of blighted is "built next to a railroad." In that case all the houses along Caltrain come pre-blighted.

The OCS poles are tall, but I'm guessing they simply used old poles to save money. Caltrain/HSR will use all new OCS equipment. They aren't going to be 50 feet tall.

Peter said...

And regarding the town coming before the railroad. As you stated, Palo Alto grew up around the railroad. The railroad was part of the town, and for many years has been an integral part of the town. Why is this so difficult to figure out? Palo Alto is not going to be eternally blighted by HSR being built along the Caltrain ROW. Get a grip on reality.

Peter said...

Lastly, if I recall correctly, if archaeological finds are made, work gets stopped, archaeologists come in, do their work, and the project is either adjusted if mitigation is possible or work continues as originally planned if mitigation is not possible. Sorry, but that's not going to stop construction, either.

Anonymous said...

here's a nice article about hsr trains.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Unions support safety"

Give me a fucking break. Unions don't give a shit about safety if it means losing their jobs. That's all they care about. Oh, and if they're public sector unions, all about stealing from taxpayers.

First of all you can't use the f word or you will be chastised by rafael - I always am and so that why I have to respond this way
you don't don't know what you're talking about you sorry piece-of-s f-face. We are very concerned about safety and as a railroad employee I can tell you the the very first day if training I got was about safety and its a daily practice and a top priority in my company. we are updated weekly and monthly, we must know daily safety rules on demand. we attend week long safety training and refresher courses annually, including cpr. we have unexpected audits of stations and trains and yards. And we look out for each other on the job because a wrong move means losing a limb or worse. The very first safety story I heard when I got hired was about a guy in the yard walking between two rail cars that moved coupling him in between. You know the height of a rail car coupler hits you about stomach high. so picture that jack ass. you make me sick.

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

as far as which pics I chose to show. Im well aware of exactly the areas that the nimbys are concerned about and thats why I propose issuing approved safety earplugs.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 8:50pm -

I deleted your comment because it contained an f-bomb. Commenters are expected to keep the tone civil.

Jim - I respect your restraint, but sometimes it's better to just ignore some comments altogether.

NONIMBYS said...

No anno nimbys you moved next to those tracks..YES property use does change and those "beautiful" homes of yours will still be fine!
So keep barking you silly angry demands and how and what you are"going" to all sound like little toy dogs..Nothing is going to happen as you think!

Anonymous said...


I know, I'm always still wound up when I get home at night and lying comments like that get on my nerves. when I know that safety is our top priority. In fact an even more ambitious safety effort is being made as we prepare for operating some lines at higher speeds in conjunction with the states. Safety means more jobs not fewer and unions have always lead the push for workplace safety, its penny pinching capitalists who are the ones willing to trade life for profit.

Owen Evans said...

@ Anon 8:54pm

"...rail ROW [is] not the highest and best use of this real estate anymore- so the railroad can go screw itself."

You're wrong. The Caltrain ROW is worth far more as a complete corridor that has been strung together all the way from SJ to SF than it could possibly ever be worth by parcelling out and getting sold off. Transportation infrastructure, railroads in particular, are VERY high uses, especially given the complete impossibility of assembling a new corridor to replace them. In Tokyo, for example, an area with sky high real estate prices, a tremendous amount of land is taken up by railroads.

Face it: neigborhoods, particularly of single family homes, and particularly ones that are built only at about 10 units per acre like the ones along Caltrain, are worth very, very little monetarily compared to the tremendous value of a railroad corridor.

The only leg that these neighborhoods have to stand on is an emotional argument... this is my home, it's all i've got, how dare "the man" try to come and do anything near it...

This is invoking sentiments of David vs Goliath, or more appropriately Jane Jacobs vs Robert Moses' heavy handed urban renewal. But it is a false analogy because ignores the fact that Robert Moses literally bulldozed thousands of buildings and displaced tens of thousands of people, crushing countless thriving communities and scattering them into the wind, while all Caltrain/CAHSR plans to do is raise the railroad and perhaps take a 5 foot sliver of land out of a few peoples' backyards. On the peninsula, perhaps a couple dozen houses total might be razed and their owners relocated. I view the peninsula NIMBYs' position as a selfish perversion of the views espoused by Jacobs and she is probably be turning in her grave.

Rafael said...

@ Jim -

it's patently obvious to any sane person that a union will always seek to protect the lives of its members.

In some cases, it will demand additional technology that increase cost but not revenue. Three ways to get employers to cough up the dough anyhow: persuasion, financial liability for injuries (typically court rulings) and legislation (OSHA etc).

In others, especially for construction sites, unions will often insist on health & safety briefings, additional staff tasked only with safety etc. This cuts into the productivity of burdened payroll expenses. Again, the priorities of employers and employees are always going to be a little different.

Still, there are always going to be "fiscal conservatives" (a.k.a. tightwads) who hate unions - especially public-sector unions - on purely ideological grounds. They may have a point when it comes to lifetime job guarantees but they're on very shaky ground when it comes to safety on the job.

Anonymous said...

sane people are in short supply. seen the news lately?

Andy D said...

@ looking on said...

Personally, sound proofing shouldn't be a big deal IMO. Having stood on the platform at Haute Picardie and watched multiple trains pass, the sound level isn't terribly high, and only for a couple of seconds at those speeds. The documentation I've seen says around 90dB, which is not harmful given the duration according to OSHA. Put up walls on both sides of the tracks, and you can bring the apparent noise down even further (not the best veiw from the train I'll grant, but let's try and compromise...).

Contrast that to an airliner taking off, which I have also personally witnessed from less than 50yds away from a spotting area at John Wayne airport in Southern California. That hurts your ears for even a couple seconds without hearling protection(100-160 dB with any proximity), and lasts a heck of a lot longer.

So I take objection to your comparison.

Rafael said...

@ Andy D -

people don't live 50 feet from an airport runway. The do live 50 feet from the proposed HSR line in e.g. the SF peninsula and a stretch in Anaheim.

Ergo, while the comparison with jet noise is factually incorrect, it's also irrelevant.

More useful is a comparison to the noise emissions from existing FRA-compatible diesel trains, including especially bells and horns related to grade crossings.

Note that CHSRA is proposing to run HSR trains in the center of the quad track alignment in the SF peninsula, no doubt to put another 15 feet between the trains and abutting properties. The flip side is that Caltrain locals and UPRR trains will run on tracks that are closer (laterally) to those properties than the existing ones.