Friday, November 13, 2009

Don't Let Arnold Schwarzenegger Divide and Conquer

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

One of the consistent points this blog has made since we launched in March 2008 is that HSR is part of an overall effort to revive passenger rail in California. HSR isn't a substitute for other forms of local rail - in some places, like the Peninsula and Southern California, it enhances local rail by enabling more and faster service on commuter lines such as Caltrain and Metrolink. Prop 1A recognized the need for a linked system by offering about $1 billion for non-HSR passenger rail in the state. And this site cheered on ballot initiatives for other local passenger rail projects, including Measure R in LA County and the authorization of funds for SMART in Sonoma-Marin.

Unfortunately, these are challenging times for sustainable mass transit advocates. The recession has been accompanied by a revival of Hooverism at both the state and federal levels. In 2009 California eliminated state spending on local mass transit, and has put on hold the issuance of bonds from Prop 1B in 2006, which includes money to improve existing passenger rail systems. The federal government has been a bit more friendly to transit, but the authorization of a new transportation bill that would provide stable funding for passenger rail of all kinds has been stalled all year and may not be approved until sometime in 2010 (if we're lucky).

This is an environment where mass transit advocates, especially passenger rail advocates, need to stick together and advocate for more funding for rail as a whole, with specific funding to local, regional, intercity, and HSR projects as appropriate. We need to advocate for a holistic plan, instead of doing what the Hooverites want us to do, which is fight over the scraps.

That coalitional approach is not made any easier by the actions of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The LA Times got around to reporting the controversy over the state's singular focus on HSR funds in its federal stimulus application, to the exclusion of other passenger rail:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger quietly spiked an effort last month to win $1.1 billion in federal high-speed rail stimulus funds for 29 projects to improve the safety, speed and capacity of heavily traveled commuter corridors through Southern California.

Instead, he ordered state officials to seek money for only one project -- the proposed bullet train between San Francisco and San Diego.

The governor's decision was intended to increase the state's chances of receiving high-speed rail money, officials said. California is competing with more than 40 applicants from 23 other states.

Richard Tolmach, one of the state's main HSR deniers, has been peddling this story for weeks and apparently finally got someone to bite. He wants to frame this as further evidence that HSR is bad, should be opposed, and is a threat to other passenger rail in the state. And yet, there is logic in what Arnold did. With over $50 billion in stimulus applications submitted this month, and only $8 billion to go around, California was going to have to pick and choose among a number of worthy proposals. There was no way around it. And even if you disagree with the outcome, it cannot be denied that it does make sense for the state to have focused on the high-profile HSR project, which after all has received glowing praise from the very federal officials who are tasked with distributing these funds.

Even if all $1.1 billion in non-HSR funds were applied for, it is extremely unlikely that much of it would have ever been awarded by the feds. Federal officials have sold this as a high speed rail stimulus, so there would have been risk if they awarded that money to non-HSR projects like those along the Pacific Surfliner corridor.

There is also a legitimate argument to be made that even with the above in mind, since HSR won't be complete for another decade, there was benefit to applying to provide more immediate improvements to existing passenger rail systems. I get that, and appreciate that thinking. There's no doubt that California's existing intercity rail corridors need more investment.

But the decision to not pursue that investment in this particular round of funding is by no means a death knell for those efforts. The article explains some other options for providing funding for Metrolink Positive Train Control, one of the projects Arnold chose not to include in the stimulus application:

However, Richard Katz, a former assemblyman who sits on the Metrolink, high-speed rail and Metropolitan Transportation Authority boards, was more optimistic that conventional rail projects, such as positive train control, would not be jeopardized by the governor's concentration on high-speed rail.

For example, Katz said, Metrolink, which serves six counties, needs roughly $200 million to $210 million to install positive train control by 2012.

About $70 million has been requested from other federal sources, and efforts are underway to try to redirect $97 million from state transportation bonds that are earmarked to rebuild the Colton railroad crossing.

If positive train control cannot get enough federal or state funding, Katz said he believes the MTA would lend Metrolink the money.

As to the more ambitious - and necessary - projects to include more grade separations and new tracks along the Surfliner corridor, their future funding sources are less obvious. But that should not mean backers ought to turn their fire on the CHSRA, which did what any other agency would do and argue they should get funded first.

This is a crucial moment for passenger rail advocates in California. Either we can let Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has never been a friend to rail, divide us and weaken passenger rail - or we can unite and push hard for renewed funding for these other worthy projects. Here are four ways we can get started:

  1. One obvious place to begin is the federal transportation bill. There is no reason it should remain stalled in Congress. If Democrats lose Senate seats in 2010, as is projected right now, then it is not possible to push through a new transportation bill that would properly fund passenger rail. All hands will need to be on deck for that one.

  2. Advocates should also join the push for $4 billion in HSR funding in the FY 2010 budget. This would create a precedent for ongoing HSR funding at that level, creating less pressure on California government to try and get their HSR money from other rail projects.

  3. Passenger rail activists also need to get active in the push for a second federal stimulus. Although Obama Administration officials have dismissed such talk, it is only continuing to grow as unemployment continues to rise. Infrastructure is always a popular target of stimulus spending, and given how many states submitted passenger rail stimulus applications, it's clear there is an appetite out there for more money than what the feds have offered so far.

  4. We also need to fight back against the steady defunding of mass transit, including passenger rail, at the state level. All forms of passenger rail - streetcars, light rail, commuter rail, Amtrak California, and high speed rail - are necessary to meet California's 21st century challenges. Given our state's financial crisis, it may seem like a tall order to find new sources of funding for these projects. But it is imperative that we do so.

Folks like Richard Tolmach are happy to exploit the lack of proper funding to attack high speed rail and ensure that passenger rail in California remains a moderately successful but niche element of our state's transportation network. And given that HSR is necessary to Caltrain's survival, Tolmach's approach would jeopardize even the existing services we have.

We should not play his game. Nor should we play Arnold Schwarzenegger's game. Passenger rail advocates need to avoid the temptation to fall out over modal preferences, and instead unite to grow the pie, rather than fight over who gets to eat the ever-smaller slices.


Anonymous said...

So you like and agree with Arnolds decisions, and it favor's HSR, yet you fault him for trying to "Divide". What would you have suggested he do?

What I think is under your skin is that singular focus on HSR is unjustifiable, and when CHSR gets it CHSR looks like a slime because of the inevitable consequuence - negative impacts to public transportation acorss the state as money is siphoned away from those projects entirely in to HSR. But what can you expect? There's simply not enough $ to go around, it IS a zero sum gum, so when YOU win, public transportation for all loses. But thank god you'll be sitting in a luxury car sipping coctails (through 400 miles of tunnels) by the time you're a granddad.

BruceMcF said...

This is just taking a long-time tactic, used by (but of course not restricted to), the long running "Conservative Movement" efforts to turn the clock back to before Roosevelt ... which is to say, before Teddy Roosevelt's Square Deal ...

... quarantine a wide range of local public transport projects into a small pool of funds and let the advocates of each play iron cage death match ...

... and adapting it to inter-city transport.

Meanwhile we have Interstate Highway projects like the new beltway around Birmingham - never mind demanding a lower benefit/cost ratio for road projects than other projects, when they add a project under the Appalachian highways legislation, benefit/cost does not have to be established at all, so what was once a process for providing transport in disadvantage areas is now mostly pork that will be generating budget-draining maintenance bills in the decades ahead.

YesonHSR said...

This money is for HSR not Railpacs 79mph train service. 980 million dollars of prop1A is set aside for this type of service level.
The 8billion in federal funds also needs to go to true HSR and not numerous small upgrades to 79mph rail sytems that should be funded by the DOT funds and the 2009transportaion bill...thats why this bill needs passed so this fighting over what is funded is made clear

Anonymous said...

It hard to imagine a lower cost to benefit ratio than this high speed rail project Really already.

Robert bashing the projects biggest supporter. Thank you Robert -- -I hope he read your blog and decides he has been on the wrong side of this boondoggle fence.

Anonymous said...

Transportation projects competing for limited funds is nothing new, and HSR is demanding the lion's share. Hard choices do have to be made. It's not just a naive matter of getting more funds for everyone who wants them.

Anonymous said...

Schwarzenegger, the Peloser-Boxstein machine, Bechtel - what do you expect?

Guess who's going to get the money? The two biggest boondogglers: BART and the Palmdale Loop development scam.

Peter said...

I think Robert should implement a filter that automatically changes the words Bechtel and boondoggle into Bogeymen, when used by Anons.

That's basically all they're used as. Same with Diridon and Kopp.

Anonymous said...

And a filter that automatically changes the words berm and elevated into Blight

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said... "Transportation projects competing for limited funds is nothing new, and HSR is demanding the lion's share."

HSR is getting the lion's share of HSR spending in the stimulus! Imagine that!

Not the lion's share of transport spending in the stimulus, as you are trying to dupe the uninformed into thinking - the lion's share of the Stimulus bill transportation spending went to roads.

If you wish to focus on the amount set aside for HSR and say that HSR got the lion's share of that - it changes from being deliberate deception to being empty rhetoric. Cycling got "the lion's share" of funds set aside for cycling, the lion's share of defense spending goes to the Pentagon, and the lion's share of government spending on pens goes to ballpoint pen manufacturers. All true, but not something that would tell us which is a larger portion of the Federal Budget and which is a smaller one.

Peter said...

I was just referring to posts by anons who use this forum as a way to scream and then disappear into the crowd. It's like ringing all the doorbells in an apartment complex and then running away. I have no problem with people who actually have a pseudonym. Otherwise no one will take you seriously.

Anonymous said...

The cold hard unpleasant truth is that if one mode of public transit wins in California, another loses.

Exhibit A: Quentin Kopp's Bart to SFO. Bart: 1. Buses: -1.

Exhibit B: Bart to SJ. Bart: 1. Dumbarton Rail: -1.

Exhibit C: Fresno HSR maintenance station. HSR: 1. Funds for freight consolidation -1.

etc etc

Think of HSR as the Bart extension projects on steriods. Win one, lose many.

Adirondacker12800 said...

If you don't apply for the money the answer to the application will never be "Yes". Has the Federal government said "A state only gets X amount of money that has to be spread around all of the projects it applied for"? For all we know the answer to the singular application may be "No" and California won't get any money. Or "No, resubmit it with feeder lines added" or ... If there had been a welter of applications from California some of them would have been funded.

Peter said...

@ Anon @ 10:20

Which is why Prop 1A includes 900 million for other transportation systems?

Anonymous said...

REally people, first of all , the budget shortfall is temporary as the economy will strt to turn around soon and ease some of the pressure

2) existing agencies, ccjpa for instance, may not have money for expansion plans at the moment, but thats ok because ridership is down on all agencies, due to the recession, so there isn't a need to expand at the immediate moment,
3) we will all adapt to the short term cuts as one thing it does, as with SF muni is cut out some lines that run mostly empty.

I don't like it, as its my livelihood, but its temporary.

Meanwhile if their is money for hsr, then grab that money and get to work.

in the end i will all work out.

As for these yahoos like Tomlich they ought to be ashamed of themselves. Undermining something for the simple fact that they didn't'get their way.

and Ill bet that the critics here who shed crocodile tears for the poor "other forms of transit" probably don't even use transit,
Every one of you use a car for most everything none have transit jobs, so enough with the bogus concern.

I depend 100 percent on local transit for both my travel needs and my income, and I'm not the least bit worried so you certainly shouldn't be.

what is it with 'mericans the lack of long term vision, planning and patience. what a nation of spazzes.

mellow out, don't be a spaz.

Anonymous said...

The biggest bureaucracies always win in the competition for monies to fund empire building. Ergo BART and LA.

Rafael said...

(a) Let's not speculate on what was in the documents Amtrak California prepared without having seen them. In particular, since ARRA HSR funds were restricted to routes on which "trains can reasonably be expected to each 110mph", the assumption that they did not include measures to achieve that threshold speed at least in some sections needs to be challenged.

(b) When there's only $8 billion in the pot nationwide, it's not all going to be spent in California. The Obama administration wants to fund HSR at multiple levels and there are plenty of proposals for 110mph service in other states.

Full-fat express HSR is only anywhere near shovel-ready (both eyes squinting ;-) in Florida and California.

The chad-hangers expect the federal government to fund 100% of the $2.5 billion Tampa-Orlando Airport leg, arguing that they've done their part by acquiring the I-4 median. This is technically possible under ARRA rules but it would set a terrible precedent. Besides, the route doesn't serve downtown Orlando nor does it have an intermodal station with the separate - and controversial - SunRail commuter rail project. Secr. LaHood has indicated that he needs to see the sunshine state step up to the plate on its share of Tri-Rail funding (Broward/Dade counties) and also commit to SunRail before he'll consider the HSR request as presented.

The DesertXPress project (Las Vegas-Victorville) is ineligible for ARRA grants and they're anyhow only looking for loan guarantees under a separate USDOT program.

Amtrak does have a $10 billion laundry list for sprucing up the NEC rather than spending $8 billion on clearing the maintenance backlog, but I don't know if they filed an application against ARRA. There's a lot of environmental impact statement work left to do on that and even without CEQA to worry about, they would have difficulty in meeting the Sep 30, 2012 deadline for the entire corridor. Individual component projects should be feasible, just as in California.

Realistically, therefore, California's ARRA application faces little competition from other express HSR projects but plenty from 110mph corridors. The governor decided that the express HSR project was more likely to actually get funding out of the relatively small ARRA pot.

(c) If California were a sovereign country, its economy would be about the size of Canada's and it could choose to run up a deficit to pull out of its nosedive. However, it isn't and it can't, so cutting back on public services and capital investments at the state level isn't a choice.

You can argue about priorities, but Hooverism is strictly a choice against deficit spending to tackle a recession.

Note that raising tax rates or inventing new taxes wouldn't be deficit spending.

Anonymous said...

meanwhile over on folsom progress ...photoupdate

I do love the idea of cali as country. Can we get a prop on the next ballot?

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of splitting California.

Bianca said...

Anonymous at 8:15am wrote:

Robert bashing the projects biggest supporter. Thank you Robert -- -I hope he read your blog and decides he has been on the wrong side of this boondoggle fence.

Schwarzenegger as High Speed Rail's biggest supporter? Hoo, that's a funny one. You mean the same Arnold Schwarzenegger that kept the Authority on a shoestring budget, so that it couldn't even manage halfway decent community outreach, and threatened to line-item veto it right out of existence? You must be thinking of a different model of Governator, 'cause this one just plays one on TV.

Anonymous said...

imagine if cali were cut loose from the burden of being part of the Us. On our own, we'd be fre to make our own global economic policy with emerging pacific rim economies for instance. We'd have our own immigration policies. We'd stop sending more money to the feds than we get back. The possibilities are endless.

NONIMBYS said...

Maby berm and elevated are nothing more than normal infastructure to most people outside of the ultra senstive nimbys whinny tpes in MenloPark and Palo Alto

Anonymous said...

yes, if you live in a slum, that would be true. And the logic of turning more non-slum California into slum, for the sake of your luxury train ride = garbage.

flowmotion said...

I really don't get this one. Arnold wouldn't turn down a nickel in available federal aid.

Perhaps the article should have been titled "Don't let Richard Tolmach divide and conquer".

Peter said...

Apparently Anon @ 3:46 has never been to San Jose. Where nice residential areas with both a berm and elevated freeways (and trains) coexist quite peacefully. Not everything that is not Palo Alto or Atherton is a slum.

Anonymous said...

anon 3:46 If I said that, they'd call me xenophobic.

Lets' face it, what you are really saying is that you think your address makes you superior to other Californians.

It doesn't. You are nothing but a pain in the and
no one gives flying rat's ass about your racist, privileged, concerns.

Let me tell you a couple of things.

First of all, California is becoming more international with every passing day.

The state's population is changing color as well.

The power structure is already shifting.

Your concerns are going to have less and less bearing on the directions and outcomes of political decisions.

Regardless of what any one may think about the above, its a fact.

So we ll have a choice, adapt or move.

As a San Francisco resident I learned to adapt 30 years ahead of the curve.

You however are going to find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated as you are relegated to the back burner.

Your future here doesn't look so bright.

Further, this high speed train, it is being built. It will use the Caltrain ROW, and unless the locals agree to chip in a big chunk of money, it is going to run at grade or on a berm.

This is happening and you are not going to stop it.
Bless you for putting up a good fight, but this ones a loser.

If it bothers you that much, now, in this market, would be the time to start shopping for another state unless you are prepared to wall off your community and live inside as a prisoner of your own fears.

The sooner you face the facts the sooner you can find a personal solution.

Anonymous said...

Seems like every nite on the news I hear about another crime spree in San Jose. Not so nice anymore.

Hey - richies of all stripes loathe blight. If the berm is close to them they won't want it. If they are holed up in mansions in the hills they're INIMBY's.

Anonymous said...

Blight!!! The horror of the ages!
Here are several examples of the horrors that await the penisula

These are shots of the most dreaded creature of destruction known to man as it rips though communities destroying every living thing in its path leaving only a swath of crime spree ridden mayhem.
yes its the abominable Bartmonster and one can only expect the same from its evil offspring, the H-Essar!

See how it
wreaks havoc on bucolic suburbs

Watch in horror as it
destroys angelic cul de sacs

Experience the terror as it
tramples Mr Johnson's prized azaleas!

And cover your eyes while it
microwaves little sally's pet kitten!"

The very blight you see above is coming to your neighborhood. Run! Run for your lives!

Anonymous said...

today'sSuper ACE update

Spokker said...

ALL ABOARD!, we can't send water to Palmdale because Fremont suburbanites need to water their yards. A lot of brown yards in those links of yours!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Peninsula might just end up with BART. That would be some truly masterful puppeteering to scare Peninsulans with berms right into the hands of BART. BART would give PA the subway it wants and Caltrain and the hsr would be aced out.

And no need to dump on the Governator. Since he's from LA I'm sure he supports the Palmdale fiasco.

Anonymous said...

those links were actually concord not fremont, but considering how every subdivision in every suburb in california looks exactly like every other subdivision in every other suburb in california, who can blame you for the mix up. and thats not brown, I think thats what they call "drought tolerant landscape"

will they or won't they be blighted by hsr, and if they were could you tell?







Anonymous said...

@anon, except that hsr and caltrain will be upgraded and running long before bart ever gets around to it. There hands are tied with san jose and livermore for the next 10 years.

BruceMcF said...

Anonymous said...
"Hey - richies of all stripes loathe blight. If the berm is close to them they won't want it."

Ah, proof by juxtaposition - one of the very most useful kinds.

First its a Berlin Wall, but since its all grade separations, its more accurate to say its like the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

So now grass and trees are "blight" because instead of being on the flat, they are on an incline.

Indeed, for long stretches of the alignment, there's a busy road on one side or the other of the alignment, and as has been well covered, there is room to spare in the majority of the alignment.

So in suitable areas, the alignment can be built with an infill wall next to a busy street, or behind the backs of box retail, and berm with grass and trees on the side facing the residential property, providing better visual and auditory shelter from the busy thoroughfare than at present, while eliminating level crossing delays.

Anonymous said...

you don't my address, my race or my income but what I know is that there are areas of california that are already ruined by freeway corridors, and some areas that are very livable and successful suburban communities, and its not appropriate to put high speed trains at 50 per hour (or whatever absurd number is planned) through backyards and school yards. The basic childish argumetn by HSR foamers here is 'two wrong make a right - just watch Robert and Rafael jump in with the high cost of freeways as some sort of defense of the ridiculously high and nearly criminally underestimated cost of building HSR.

HSR is a travesty and a waste of California's resources, - it will never be allowed, and the fact that a bunch of college students and bums don't give a crap about quality of life for Californian's only about getting off on HSR while sipping cocktails from the disco car, just says about all that needs to be said for the quality of character behind CHSR and its lowlife supporters.

Anonymous said...

anon, jealous cuz you arent invited
to the party?

NONIMBYS said...

TAKE off your nimbys glasses..AND take a look at the railroad that is running thru wondervile..its already there with 42 train or more a day going 79mph those same tracks you moved next to..sorry but no matter how old you are..60+ race or income nor your narrow opinion of HSR we voted YES its coming NIM so deal with it or MOVE

NONIMBYS said...

AND nimby ..So its ok that other areas of California are "ruined" by freeways so you can drive your car in arrogant glory.So lets help these people and tear down these freeways!! lets start right here with 101 and 280! hows that sound?
bet you dont like that idea at all!
It runs right past homes schools with 10,000 cars a day..and you whinning about 120 year old rails.guess that freeway is fine YOU find worth every penny and you dont live next to were is your nimby rants about that road?

Anonymous said...

And by the way, slum is not a reference to people or race, slum is a description of a place, property where the quality of life is abissmal, economically depressed. How did it get that way? Some sort of damage created often by a terrible living condition (like having some sort of huge noise factor introduced, like trains or freeways running through backyards or overhead). Which causes migration away by business for anyone that can afford to move, which causes migration away by businesses, and causes degredation of tax base and a cycle of poverty and neglect. It is insulting that you would knee jerk equate slum with race because there are many of all ethnicities who certainly don't fall in to those conditions.

Berm - big improvement to quality of life. debateable - since they're not see through. However, mute point and not happening in the parts most effected (those properties that will have train within feet of backyards) UNLESS CHSRA can afford to buy a heck of alot more real estate to build a berm. In the Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto parts, the tracks will be directly up against the edge of the row. Are berms vertical?

Anonymous said...

Does that stupid little paper not have a high speed rail nimby rant story this week? guess not!! Now go back and cry on that little censored rag

Anonymous said...

nonimbys - are you smarter than a fifth grader? Typical kindergarten 'go to' argument - which we hear repeated over and over again by these train fanatics "its ugly and blighted over there, so its ok to spread blight around randomly to wherever we deem fit." No, that's not how it works.

Other nonsense come backs used frequently on this blog - freeways are expensive too, airports make noise too, everyone else was throwing eggs...

Sure, lets shut down 101 and 280 and restore the environment and quality of life. I'd be happy with it, and all for it. Go ahead. But since that's not happening, and certainly isn't on the table, what should be happening is protecting the quality of life in California where it still exists, and improving those parts that are damaged, and that generally would mean purching the land already blighted and moving people into better living conditions. ( Then concentrate blight inducing activity in places that are already wasted. That would mean building HSR over/around 10 lane freeways - and ensuring there are no families left trying to live under those conditions.

CHSRA isn't about that - they're arrogantly thinking they run 120mph trains 40 per hour through people's back yards, through city parks and school yards, buy a 3 foot strip of their land to accomodate the ROW, and leave the people to suffer.

無名 - wu ming said...

blight isn't caused by trains or highways. it's caused by poverty. rich people with backyards abutting a low-speed train line will not lose their incomes when we run faster trains through that backyard. they will just have whooshing sounds in exchange for no horn sounds. poor people wouldn't become rich if the highway was magically replaced with a lovely park with bike paths. the two things are unrelated.

there is this magical irrational suburban thinking that somehow the aesthetics of a given place determine the character and socioeconomic background of its inhabitants. it's utterly hilarious, you get people in davis going off about it any time someone proposes to build a 3 story building in the downtown. homeless people! crack! muggings! all caused by buildings that are one or two stories higher.


Unknown said...

To say that highway or rail projects imposed on existing neighborhoods and communities don't have long term ramifications is not accurate.

While lengthy, Robert Caro's Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Robert Moses and the projects he did in New York ("The Power Broker") is an excellent study on the long-term impact of transportation projects through communities.

Any books by the new urbanists like Peter Calthorpe are also enlightening on how critical things that may seem like details are to creating the walkable, livable communities that all of us want.

Community cohesion is embedded by law in environmental review because of its fragility and susceptibility to physical and psychological barriers.

Anonymous said...

Blight is seeded by freeways. The poorest, most crime-infested neighborhoods are commonly found alongside them.

Why? Two reasons. The freeway routers will always, for obvious political reasons, take the path of least resistance, namely thru existing ghettos. New developments that sprout up will be of the industrial variety or if they are housing they will deteriorate because of the inhospitable environment associated with the freeway.

So freeways are both a cause and a symptom of blight.

Anonymous said...

CHSRA isn't about that - they're arrogantly thinking they run 120mph trains 40 per hour through people's back yards, through city parks and school yards, buy a 3 foot strip of their land to accomodate the ROW, and leave the people to suffer.

LOL. 40 per hour. LOL. LOL. LOL. LOL. LOL. LOL.

NONIMBYS said...

OHH Im so hurt!! NOW speaking of 5th graders why this crybabie constant rant about how horrible this railroad is?? sounds very child like..NO scared childern of PA/Menlopark..ect ect your little suburan world will not crumble nothing like that 8 lane 101 is even close to being planned here.And Really what is your grade school ..oh mommy bullie HSR stole my beeine today post? Like people on this board agree with you? NOW go back to little PA on line and crypost..And get a if we already dont know how you are and your standard "go to" argument

Anonymous said...

123 123 comment should be removed...

Or are we gong to start advertising "escort services here"?

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 10:27am -

I think that referred to the sum of projected Caltrain + HSR trains in both directions.

Currently, Caltrain is at 5tph each way during weekday rush hour. It wants to double that by 2025, which is ambitious.

CHSRA estimates 7-8tph each way in the SF peninsula in the 2030 timeframe. Also ambitious.

Add them together and you get 17-18tph each way or 34-36 trains total. Not quite 40, but not all that far off.

The big difference, of course, is that electric trains running on continuously welded and properly maintained, grade separated track generate less rail-wheel noise than existing Caltrain rolling stock does. Plus, no more bells and horns at intersections.

Against that, you have to weigh the larger number of noise events and the knock-on effect of the additional rail capacity on local traffic/transit. Passengers have to get to the station/their final destinations somehow and not everyone/everything is going to be within walking or even bicycle distance.

Anonymous said...

And air turbulence effects -which create noise. Big noise

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:27 LOL

Alon Levy said...

Anon, HSR trains are designed to generate acceptable amounts of noise at 350 km/h. At 200, they actually produce less noise than the existing Caltrain trains do at their current top speed.

Joey said...

Air turbulence? W. T. F.

If you're talking about aerodynamic noise generated by 125mph trains, it's really not that much, as you would know if you had visited any other countries that have HSR operating (which I have BTW). In any case, the noise from that is certainly less than the noise of bells and horns at grade crossings. Not to mention the lack of noise from those diesel locomotives. So you have more trains, but they're much quieter. Is that really so terrible?

Anonymous said...

BART provides a decent real world idea of how noisy the California hsr will be. One must remember that we are in California not in Europe or Japan - with California unions, California contractors, California lawyers, California budgets and California habits concerning maintenance.

The hsr will use solid wheels like BART but its equipment will likely be heavier than BART's due to FRA requirements.

So take BART's hiss, rumble and squeal and multiply it by about 3 and you'll have an idea of how noisy the hsr will really be.

The test track should be your urban elevated(how about Palmdale) to give the lie to the propaganda about the "quiet" hsr.

Anonymous said...

wow anon you'll just throw any old thing out there huh.

you know if its really going to bother you THAT MUCH, then freakin move already.

Attention everyone, from now on, we are entitled to live with exactly the existing level of noise in perpetuity. Take a reading, jot it down, and measure it weekly.

Anonymous said...

The hsr will use solid wheels like BART but its equipment will likely be heavier than BART's due to FRA requirements.

LOL. And people were saying that it was ridiculous for CHSRA to be combating misinformation being spouted everywhere.

Case in point.

Anonymous said...

What kind of misinformation? BART cars are monocoque aluminum and very light. Please document how hsr equipment is going to be lighter than BART's.

Plus the hsr will "äpparently" have to operate on the Caltrain alignment next to freight trackage. Please document how the hsr will be exempt from FRA concerns.

Joey said...

HSR equipment will be heavier than BART (BART is on the extremely light end). This doesn't have to do with FRA requirements though, as HSR will use non-complient equipment already.

In terms of noise, BART is by far the loudest rail system I have ridden, and I've ridden quite a few. For someone who hadn't ridden rail outside of the bay area much, I can see how this might be used as a standard, but the truth is that BART is the exception, rather than the rule. Rail systems, high speed and conventional, around the world, even in the US, are much quieter than BART. There is no reason to assume that HSR will be anywhere as noisy as BART.

Joey said...

In terms of FRA requirements on the CalTrain corridor, freight trains only run at night, which allows non-compliant trains be run during the day (the FRA allows mixed use as long as compliant and non-compliant trains are time-separated). Everywhere else, HSR will run on dedicated trackage, so it isn't a problem. There is one matter that remains to be resolved, however, and that is CalTrain's (gradual) switch to non-compliant EMUs. Assuming that the switch is carried out gradually, CalTrain will be required to run both FRA compliant locomotive-driven trains as well as non-compliant EMUs at the same time. So they may have to get a waiver from the FRA anyway. And a gradual shift would make unifying platform heights difficult too (though AFAIK there are no official plans to do this). None of this really affects HSR though, as it seems probable that CalTrain might be able to complete the switch before the HSR starter line is fully finished (the peninsula corridor being one of the first segments to be built).

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 1:48pm -

(part 1)

Plus the hsr will "apparently" have to operate on the Caltrain alignment next to freight trackage. Please document how the hsr will be exempt from FRA concerns.

The operative words here being next to.

FRA gets its panties in a twist about big honking freight trains sharing track with "non-compliant" modern lightweight passenger rolling stock, a mode of operation referred to as "mixed traffic". In this context, non-complaint usually means a train design complies with international UIC standards rather than FRA's own. Because the US is special, don't you know.

The primary concerns are head-on collisions and rear ending. Train-on-train collisions will always be catastrophic at even moderate relative speeds, but FRA maintains the fiction that passive safety (i.e. crumple zones) alone are the way to go, because freight railroads pay campaign contributions to politicians to avoid regulation that would force them to invest in active safety systems to structurally avoid this type of accident. Stuff that's absolutely standard everywhere else in the developed and even parts of the developing world.

It took 25 deaths at Chatsworth to cajole politicians into making PTC a requirement by 2015 on most lines, de facto at freight rail operators' expense. Note they did not specify an off-the-shelf technical standard like ERTMS to implement, so expect lots of consultants getting immensely rich on developing US-only solutions that take years to debug.

Even on purely passive safety, FRA rules are arguably designed to regulate pesky passenger rail out of existence. Caltrain has managed to prove that UIC-compliant gear performs as well or better in grade crossing accidents, though the most recent published version of the document has been sanitized in that regard. Caltrain does want FRA to issue a mixed traffic waiver for the SF peninusla because it will take a few years to cut over to the new EMU fleet.

By contrast, FRA doesn't care as much about trains on adjacent track, though it has done some studies of aerodynamic interactions of Amtrak Acela Express passing freight trains and other object as well as passengers waiting on platforms.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 1:48pm -

(part 2)

For its part, UPRR does lie awake at night thinking about what might happen if one of its own freight trains derails or spills cargo and ends up fouling adjacent track used for passenger traffic, because of the safety hazard and financial liability that would entail.

Now, California HSR will come with fences plus CCTV surveillance of the entire width of the right of way plus sophisticated train control. Even so, any oncoming train will require several miles of track to come to a full stop and avoid a potentially horrific follow-on accident. When you have an HSR train coming on every few minutes, the risk that at some future point in time there will be one that won't have enough run length to come to slow down sufficiently is non-zero. FRA will no doubt be looking into this when it draws up its "rule of special applicability" for California HSR.

Curiously, fouling adjacent track is apparently only an issue for UPRR on rights of way it owns outright. In the SF peninsula, they haven't said a peep about it, perhaps because it doesn't want people in Palo Alto to start imagining what would happen if a Mission Bay Hauler slammed into the high school. Just sayin'.

Caltrain actually maintains the geometry of its own tracks and rolling stock to the required state of good repair. In other countries as well, the risk of freight derailments and cargo spills has never been an issue.

Is UPRR simply admitting it is too cheap to invest in proper maintenance and safety systems? If so, won't selling the part of its right of way it realistically won't ever need anyhow fund those very investments?

For reference, UPRR runs just six trains a day total between San Jose and Gilroy. It could easily run 10x that number without having to add any track.

Anonymous said...

"California HSR will come with fences" What? to prevent freight trains and cargo from fouling passenger track? What the hell were you thinking they'd make those fences out of? What kind of fence contains a freight train wreck. That's just plain stupid. The only thing possible here is some sort of political move that in essence says - you go right ahead, that's a risk we'll live with. Do you think that will happen on ROW with hundreds if not thousands of residential properties, not to mention schools, stacked up right against ROW? I can understand it in some sparsely populated industrial, or some outback countryside - but in 50 miles of downtown Peninsula suburban towns? That'll be a political firestorm interesting to watch.

Anonymous said...

And you can be sure that the Peninsula Nimby's won't watch passively.

Alon Levy said...

Joey, FRA regulations consider positive train control to be a form of guaranteed time separation. On any line where both passenger and freight trains have some form of PTC, which federal law mandates by 2012, the crash safety regulations don't apply.

Joey said...

Ah. That makes it more or less a non-issue then.

@Anon: The chances of a car or truck on an adjacent street crashing into someone's house (or several peoples' houses is infinitely more probably than the chance of a derailment. Especially on well-maintained track, like the peninsula corridor will be (as opposed to UPRR's half-century old freight tracks)

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 5:00pm -

Cap'n Obvious sez: the fences are to keep people and animals from entering the right of way. The CCTV is for detecting people, animals and debris on the tracks that shouldn't be there (and to monitor work crews). The train control system is there, among other things, to allow controllers to force trains to perform an emergency stop if there's a dangerous situation up ahead that the drivers can't even see yet.

Jeez, some people...

NONIMBYS said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SF49ERS said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rafael said...


I deleted your comments because they were offensive and added nothing to the discussion.

Please keep the conversations civil. Snark is fine, swearing is not and neither is trivializing suicides on the tracks.

BruceMcF said...

Joey said...
"The chances of a car or truck on an adjacent street crashing into someone's house (or several peoples' houses is infinitely more probably than the chance of a derailment. Especially on well-maintained track, like the peninsula corridor will be (as opposed to UPRR's half-century old freight tracks)"

Precisely. Most derailments can be traced back in whole or part to track maintenance issues - understandable since we subsidize competing road and air infrastructure while taxing rail infrastructure.