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Author Topic: California High Speed Rail
George Harris
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OK, this really does't belong under Amtrak, but this is the most active and I did't see another logical place for it. The number of people disparaging the thing and going through the usual "it costs too much, it takes too long to build and nobody is going to ride it" is driving me bonkers. Quite a bit of both the costs too much and it takes too long to build is being driven by the NIMBY and the no way no where mob. I heard it once explained as it is equivalent to the guy that kills his parents and then asks for mercy because he is an orphan.

One of the "it takes the cake" ones I just saw was the person on Trainorders going of on "they can't even afford a proper steel bridge." What?? Generally concrete bridges are preferred because they are quieter. Steel bridges produce somewhat of a drumhead effect and concrete does't.

Yes, they did start with the easiest to build portion first. Political expediency makes that virtually necessary as it takes moving dirt and concrete for the public to see it as real.

Going through Tehachapi, Lancaster, Palmdale makes far mores sense than following I-5. To follow I-5 requires tunnels through active fault lines. Going over Tehachapi does not. Surely I don't have to explain why tunneling through faults is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

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MargaretSPfan
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Yes, as a matter of fact, CA HSR does cost far, far too much. It has already used up 90% of the funds that should have gone to rail transit project that are desperately needed right now to lessen highway congestion.

CA HSR is a high-speed gravy train for wealthy consultants and real estate interests and developers. "Follow the money," and you will see exactly what is going on here in California. The political machine here is behind this huge rip-off, and so far seems unstoppable.

CA HSR was sold to voters a a way to solve a big future overcrowding problem in intrastate aviation in 20 years.

20 years later, this "problem" does not exist. Airports that serve primarily intrastate aviation are not overcrowded, not at all. LAX and SFO do not count in this because they primarily serve interstate and international travelers.

And there are absolutely no independent travel-demand studies that show any demand at all for CA HSR. Not even one. In contrast, there are a number of independent studies done by professional transit planners and engineers that show a real demand now for rail transit in a number of places here in California that cannot get funding because, as I said, CA HSR has already used up 90% of the funds that could and should have been used for such rail transit projects.

"Build it and they will ride" is an irresponsible way to plan transit projects.

No, not NIMBY-ism at all -- just hard-headed facts.

(But -- if you were going to lose your home or business by legal theft by the government (eminent domain) because of some rail or highway project, wouldn't you oppose such a project?)

High-speed rail only can succeed when it is added to a regular rail transit system that already provides superb safe, frequent,affordable, fast, and convenient service that connects well with other transit systems -- but that does not exist here in California.

Europe added HSR on top of their superb passenger rail transit systems.

Here in California, building HSR now is like trying to put the glaze on the icing on a cake that does not even exist yet.

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DonNadeau
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When it started to build its statewide freeway system starting the 1950s, California deliberately chose to build the urban sections needed at the time first.

It knew that the value of urban lands and the buildings upon then would increase far more rapidly than in rural areas. Moreover, there would be fewer NIMBY foes.

The HSR project likely for political reasons has done the opposite.

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railrev
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I don't know how they can call it "high speed" when it has to stop in the district of every assembly member and state senator who voted forit. What California really needs is "high frequency" rail.

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Railrev
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yukon11
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I think Railrev makes a good point.

I voted for Calif High Speed Rail (prop 1A) 10 years ago. I still like the idea and would prefer it to airport hassles and the TSA gauntlet. In 2008, CHSR was suppose to cost around 33 billion. It is now projected to cost 77 billion and climbing.

They projected a 2-3 hr. trip from SF to LA. Now, even advocates of Calif. High Speed Rail say the travel time will be longer than 2-3 hrs.

The Acela can hit 150 mph (I think in a stretch somewhere north of Boston?), but around 80 mph on average. I can see HSR for long stretches without stops, but how much gain is there with frequent stops?

Replacing the Surfliner train with a train system similar to the Cascades would have been a better idea, I think, if the route could continue on from San Luis Obispo to the Bay Area.

Richard

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Ocala Mike
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quote:
Originally posted by yukon11:



The Acela can hit 150 mph (I think in a stretch somewhere north of Boston?)

Richard

Richard, I think you mean north of Trenton. It would have to run the bumper to get north of Boston, and at 150 mph would create another "big dig" in Beantown.

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Ocala Mike

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George Harris
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Margaret: ""Build it and they will ride" is an irresponsible way to plan transit projects." Was not the way CAHSR was planned. It is what I have seen in working over 40 years on public transit projects. Generally if the system is built based on traffic analysis the passenger loading has met or exceeded the results of the analysis. The exceptions have been places where politics has trumped traffic analysis. Many of you other points I will get to later.

The true value is not just San Fran to Los Angeles, but between any of the following: San Francisco - San Jose - Merced - Fresno - Bakersfield - Los Angeles. Anyone who does not believe there is significant traffic to/from intermediate points has never watched around 100 people on/off the current California trains at Fresno.

Given the political issues I may never live to see the system built out, but if not messed up by politics, the ridership will be there.

With all the uproar about energy consumption the BTU's per passenger by rail are far less than those per passenger by air. No, I do not like some seem to think, believe that electricity happens with nothing consumed to produce it, although my opinion is that burning oil and gas to generate electricity should be regarded as a near criminal waste of the most easily portable sources of energy. We should be looking to water where practical, otherwise coal and nuclear as our main sources of electricity.

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sojourner
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I believe what yukon11 meant was south (or southwest) of Boston--the higher speeds were reached somewhere between New Haven and Boston. The ACELA goes only as far north as Boston South train station.
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Gilbert B Norman
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The New York Times "teed-off" Today with a "not exactly" optimistic article on the state of CAHSR. In fact, with its biggest proponent, Gov. Brown, not standing for election, his successor - even the Democrat Lt. Gov - could well "cut losses" and scuttle the entire project:

http://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/30/us/california-high-speed-rail.html

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quote:
Mr. Brown's enthusiastic backing has been crucial to the projects advances. Gavin Newsom, the Democratic lieutenant governor and the leading contender to succeed Mr. Brown, has offered conflicting views of the project over the years; he has at times come close to opposing it outright, though in this campaign he has said he supported it, while expressing concern about costs and engineering challenges. By contrast, his Republican opponent, John Cox, has pledged unequivocally to abandon the project if elected

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yukon11
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I didn't know that tunneling through the Tehachapi mountains is going to be a requirement. That should cost us a few coins out of pin money. In 2008 the overall cost was going to be 40 billion. A while ago the cost jumped to 77 billion. Now the projection is 100 billion and I hate to see the final cost in 2033, if the thing is ever completed.

It is interesting that Gavin Newsom may balk and discontinue the project. I doubt if John Cox is going to be elected as he doesn't come over well as far a speech delivery and personality is concerned, in my opinion.

I have an idea, why don't they have HSR from Fresno to Bakersfield, then a bus link from Bakersfield to SF and another from Fresno to LA.

Richard

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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by yukon11:

I have an idea, why don't they have HSR from Fresno to Bakersfield, then a bus link from Bakersfield to SF and another from Fresno to LA.

Surely you are being facetious. Even if they run 150 mph between Fresno and Bakersfield, by the time you get through the bus-train and train-bus change and deal with the uncertainties of traffic the end to end time would be little less than it is now.

As to tunnels in between Bakersfield and LA: There is no path straight enough in open air to avoid tunnels between Bakersfield and LA, whether it be along the I-5 alignment or by way of Tehachapi. Thus you will have some tunneling either way, it is just that they can be shorter and avoid active faults when going by way of Tehachapi.

After Texas HSR is up and running and seen to be hauling serious passenger loadings, which will almost certainly happen before Ca HSR is complete, I would suspect opposition will evaporate and the anti's will at best be embarrased or more likey simply look shortsighted and somewhat ignorat.

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yukon11
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Yes, Mr. Norman, I meant Bakersfield to LA, Fresno to SF. Thanks for the correction.

Of course, I was overly facetious. I did vote for Prop 1A and High Speed Rail. I still like the idea. However, I think few could predict, back in 2008, the extent of the cost overrun.

Richard

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MargaretSPfan
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CA HSR is a very bad idea and is a gigantic waste of money. Alwasy has been.

There is not even one independent study that shows that there is any demand for CA HSR. Not one.

CA HSR is 100% government welfare for the very rich -- the already wealthy consultants and constructio companies, and it keeps going because the California political machine wants it -- to fatten its bank accounts and those of it wealthy friends.

No, none of us who oppose this gigantic waste of state money will ever be embarrassed by the high ridership of any Texas HSR, even in the very unlikely event that Texas HSR ever gets built and perates.

Political support for a big infrastructure project, such as CA HSR, never means that such projects will be used by a lot of people. That is not the reason such projects get built.

And plese do not believe for one minute that the state of California does not hav the money to properly fund the essential human needs of its residents. If that wer really fact, then the billions of tax dollars that have already been spent on CA HSR could not have ben found to spend on it in the first place.

It is, to me, extremely sad that my state has such horrible priorities that it can find many billions of dollars to spend on an unneeed rail project, while at the same time cutting funding for the most vulmnerable of its residents --- children with special needs and people with mental health problems -- to name just two groups wo deserve far, far better than they are getting from the State of California.

One example of those horrible priorities: the State of California mandates that parents or guardians of people with special needs must account for every single penny of the very meager and completely insufficient state funds they get for help for their special-neds children. Those poor parents are put under a microscope financially -- in a state that somehow can find billions of dllats to waste on an unneeded rail project CA HSR. Which was sold to the voters as solving a problem that did not even exist at the time that bond measure, Proposition 1A, was passed in 2008.

But the backers of CA HSR claimed such a "crisis" would exist -- but not for 20 years in the future. I am referring to the future "crisis" in intra-state air travel, and here we are, 20 years later, and no such crsis exists in intra-stat air trabel.

But this "crisis" was the justification for duping the voters into supporting a bond measure to spend scarce state funds on CA HSR. Even if those billions of dollars had to be spent only on some form of passenger rail, there wre even then, and are now, many, many passenger rail projects in California that would have greatl lessened highway congestion had they had the ample funds that CA HSR has had. And some of those projects were "shovel ready," but CA HSR has used up 90% of the monies that should have been spent on such projects. All of whihc, by the way, have had plenty of travel-demand studies done that show there is a big demand for every one of them. Right now.

So pleae do not support CA HSR. It is not needed. And the moneies it has used up should have ben spnt on other far more important things.

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MargaretSPfan
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yukon11 --
From what I have read for yearss, it is common knowlege that big cost oerruns on big projects are the norm. We all have seen this on every large project. So, sorry, sir, to have to disagree with you, buyt everyone who has any experience with any large prject always expects cost overruns, That is how construction companies make onney. (Having lots of change orders is pretty standard.)

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DonNadeau
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"Build it and they will ride" is the story of every urban freeway in the Bay Area and Southern California. I certainly learned that when I once had to commute on the I-405.

"With all the uproar about energy consumption the BTU's per passenger by rail are far less than those per passenger by air." - Mr. Harris

The Bay Area to the greater LA/Orange County metros is the second busiest air corridor in the country.

There will be in my opinion severe environmental consequences not to offer a viable HSR alternative to that. Providing current Amtrak California speeds with little improvement will not likely capture that market.

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MargaretSPfan
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High-sped rail ony works when it is added to a really good national public ransportation system, which has frequent service that takes people where they need to go, safely, and is affordable, and does ot require people to transfer frequently, and is easy to use.

Sadly, the US no longer has such a system. We used to, until around 70 years ago, but, for many reasons, it was destroyed. And we have all been suffering the bad effects of that destruction.

Sigh.....

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yukon11
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Calif. HSR has been a smoke screen from the very beginning. It was concocted inside a Calif. Senate conference room in 2008. The hype, back then, was "SF to LA" in 2 hrs and 40 min!"

I believe the Japanese Shinkansen is the fastest high speed train in the world, currently. It averages 145 mph. If the Calif. HSR train were to travel from SF to LA in 2 hrs and 40 min, it would have to average 164 mph.

Yes, I know this does not have a lot to do with the worthiness of Calif HSR. But it does attest to the fraud and deception used to get the project on the ballet and to get Prop 1A passed. In that they succeeded.

Another devious aspect is for Calif. politicians to proclaim that significant funding can come from borrowing against "cap-and-trade funds". It now seems that it is highly questionable that such a scheme will provide significant funding.

I think Calif. HSR isn't about an expensive (but nice to think about) train system. It's all about JOBS, and why it will be hard to kill the whole idea if a lot of workers get a layoff notice. But HSR will be hard to kill, maybe even for Gavin Newsom, unless another prop. appears on the ballot to abolish the project.

Maybe a Brightline train would be a better idea.

Richard

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MargaretSPfan
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Yukon11 --
Thank you. I could have said much the same thing, but wanted to keep my post short. Didn't want people to go "TL:DR" --"Too Long: Didn't Read" -- which I do not blame peope for doing. Heck, I do taht, too, sometimes.

CA HSR is truly a high-sped gravy train for the very wealthy, and nothing else. there are far, far more important things than CA HSR that could provide good jobs for millions of people. If you want me to gie examples of such, please let me know.

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yukon11
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I have to admit, Margaret, that I did get suckered in by Prop 1A, and thought cost estimates were, at least, in the ball park.

I do have a question; whether we have HSR, a Talgo-like or Brightline-like train system, I don't understand the thinking for the start up site. Wouldn't it have been better to start at both ends (LA and SF) and build toward the middle? It would give people a chance to buy houses in less expensive central Calif. with the ability to train commute to the metropolitan areas, where their jobs might be located.

Richard

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palmland
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Apparently a U.S. congressional committee has scheduled a meeting and oversight review in Sacramento. Here is the link for live streaming.

Transportation Committee Hearing

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George Harris
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Margaret, are you all right? I see the multiple letter misses in you writing and am concerned.

Back to the CaHSR: Sorry, but I am a true believer in the project. I have spent most of my working life on urban rail transit and intercity rail, (OK, the HSR was in a foreign country) and with one exception all have met or exceeded expectations concerning ridership. I do think there has been too much political imput on many things, but had best not say more for now. I will be most surprised if the California line does not exceed ridership projections. As to the availability of flight paths: that is really a non-issue when you consider convenience and fuel consumption per passenger. I am sure that the fuel consumption ratio has been analyzed, but do not know the numbers. There are many people that look forward to the day they can make these trips in reasonable time without the hassles you deal with in flying. It is almost certain that the Texas line will be built and in operation well before California manages to achieve LA-SF, but that is the reality due to politics, length of line, terrain, and financing. It is worth noting that there is far more intergration between local transit and the HSR line in California than there is in Texas.

As to starting in the urban ends and building toward the middle: That may have been done with the interstates in California but it was not done in many other places. In many states the objective in the early days was to get down as many miles as possible as fast as possible which meant start in the least populated easiest terrain areas and build toward the problem areas.

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MargaretSPfan
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George --
I am fine. Thank you very much for your concern. I am a lousy typist -- I cannot touch-type at all, and sometimes I miss my errors when proofreading my text before I submit it.

And Chrome deleted its auto-spell-check featgure, so o more red squiggles under misspelled words. Darn!

Plus I have double vision, and that causes me more problems when trying to tupe flawlessly.

I am NOT having a "pity party" here -- just explaining why I make errors that I do not always catch before I submit any text.

"We now return you to your regularly scheduled program." < G >

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MargaretSPfan
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George --
Would you please be so kind as to tell me what, exactly, CA HSR will do to solve California's public transportation needs that justifies it using up what some claim is 90% of the state's entire funding for rail transit?

Thanks!

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Gilbert B Norman
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This Journal report suggests thst CAHSR is a "casualty". Even Governor Newsom - a Dem endorsed by "Moonbeam" - has said "enough is enough".

At this time, the best hope will be to complete the (roundly) Merced-Fresno segment under construction (minus the electrification) to enable H(er)SR by the existing, and maybe more, San Joaquins and lessen interference with BNSF freight operations.

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DonNadeau
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Considering what little benefit would come from completing the current construction, I believe the federal government should take back the some 3.5 billion in grants (that is the sum earlier articles said that were at risk) that were dependant on entire Phase One system completion and use that for more viable projects.

My understanding is that if completed the route would be merely 110-miles long and would not be using high speed equipment. How much time savings can that achieve?

There may be good arguments against stopping construction, but I am not aware of them. I was a supporter of California High-speed Rail when first proposed.

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@DonNadeau

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Gilbert B Norman
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Informative, well produced CNBC production. But I doubt if any new ground has been broken with such:

https://youtu.be/Qaf6baEu0_w

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DonNadeau
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Thank you. No new ground but overlooked the decentralization of city populations out into low density suburbs as a factor in the decline of rail and rail public transit. That had been happening since the 1920s.

Wes Edens can certainly deliver a powerful promotion in a few seconds.

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@DonNadeau

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