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High Speed Rail promoters knocking on your door

Original post made by Morris Brown, Menlo Park, on Jul 27, 2008

High Speed Rail promoters knocking on your door

We have been asked by several locals " who are these young people coming around, knocking on our doors and promoting the High Speed Rail project?"

They are college students who have been recruited for paid summer jobs to promote this project. Their employer is the "California Public Interest Research Group" (CALPIRG).

CALPIRG claims to "take on powerful interests on behalf of Californians, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being."

Well in this case CALPIRG has been paid to hire these students with a goal that 100,000 California voters will be personally contacted before the Nov. 2008 election. Who is funding this effort? Why the very same powerful interests CALPIRG claims to oppose. The funding is coming from a consortium of construction firms, venture capitalists, construction unions etc.

What does this project mean for Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto and other cities along the peninsula?

It means four (4) tracks running through our cities, requiring a minimum of 100 feet of corridor on which CalTrain currently has only 60 -65 feet in many portions.

It means eminent domain proceedings to acquire additional space.

It means tracks raised on a 15 foot high berm and electrical catenaries another 20 feet above that.

It means cutting hundreds of trees along the tracks.

It means approval of a project that will cost by their own estimates $45 billion. With debt service costs and escalated construction costs sure to evolve, the final cost will be well above $100 billion.

So this is what these young faces are promoting.

For more information visit

www.derailhsr.com

Morris Brown
Stone Pine Lane
Menlo Park

Comments (125)

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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 27, 2008 at 5:49 pm

I have serious misgivings about the high speed rail concept that have nothing to do with the NIMBY arguments Mr. Brown makes in his posting above. I actually take exception to NIMBY arguments on numerous issues we face in an overbuilt community environment, as there can be important policy questions which have adverse local consequences in the near term for certain groups, but do have a larger benefit over a planning horizon.

A high speed rail between northern and southern California is a very costly bet. For my money, if these funds are to be spent, they would be better directed toward more local light rail in dense urban areas that can take more daily commute traffic off the roads. Getting people out of their cars is a very difficult challenge, but there are examples on the US east coast and in other countries where light rail carries many more people on their daily routines than is the case in California.

High speed rail--no. Uncertain investment. Dense, urban light rail--yes. Money well spent.


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Posted by high speed betrayal
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 27, 2008 at 6:01 pm

I agree with you, Paul. It's really hard to understand how spending a lot of money on high speed rail between these two areas is going to benefit California. High speed rail would not remove cars from the road because anyone who took the train would probably still need a car to get to the station and a car at the other end. We have decent public transit in San Francisco, but the rest of the Bay Area is seriously lacking. Ever try to get around LA without a car? Public transit there is a joke.

High speed rail connecting the two big California metropolitan areas may make sense in the future, but only after the local transit systems have been established. Meanwhile, I have to wonder why the state is choosing to do it backwards, and also am wondering who is going to benefit financially from this project. It won't be those of us who live in the mid-peninsula.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2008 at 6:32 pm

I am not sure if this is backwards thinking at all. I do hope though that the two go hand in glove and we don't plan one without the other.

The real point is that when we talk about high speed rail between two huge metropolitan areas, we should not be thinking about a future of 10 or even 20 years ahead. What we should be planning is for a future 30 years at least ahead and more ideally 50 years ahead. Of course no one really knows what transportation needs are going to be in 50 years, but the likelihood that a rail/track system established will be utilised by whatever technology is being used then would make it reasonable to assume that what we do now will be part of the future technology. What the average family car would be like in 50 years' time is hopelessly impossible. What sensible mass transportation between two distant Californian cities is going to be is easier to predict.

Flying is getting more laborious and takes too long at airports for the distance involved. Land transportation at high speeds is the innovative method for transportation for California for the 50 year view.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 27, 2008 at 6:58 pm

Resident,

For me, this is a great example of how to put public policy to work effectively.

I have no problem with the concept of high speed rail. I do have a problem with where huge sums of money get deployed in a certain sequence, I do have a problem with shaky financial justifications for projects of this magnitude, I do have a problem with what I perceive to be a situaiton where it is easy to advocate a huge sum of money that will not pay out, when that same sum of money could be used for significant local transit projects, but there as SO MANY AGENCIES INVOLVED that it just cannot happen.

If I were King, I would ask, here is the treasure I want to give to my subjects, shall I give to you a great highway to compete with other things you already have, or shall I give you things that may lessen your day to day lifely strife?

It would be good to be King


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 27, 2008 at 8:57 pm

Not really sure why a high-speed rail should go down the Peninsula, but I suppose no one wants to build another under-bay tunnel.

But, anyway, I'm old enough to remember when BART opened. It was expensive, but boy do I regret San Mateo voting it down decades ago. CalTrain isn't nearly as convenient or flexible.

So, yeah, a high-speed rail is an expensive project--but compared to continued dependency on planes and cars? It's not at all clear that gas prices will drop substantially--or how long they'll stay down.

And after they do one from LA to SF, they can add a line for LA to San Diego and move upward to Portland and Seattle.

Then we can continue to use flight for longer transcontinental trips.

I'm with Resident in that I want the light rail, too.


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Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2008 at 9:50 pm

Here is a list of problems that I see with the high speed rail system proposed:
1. The cost. Figure out how many people taking how many trips to pay for a $40 or $50 billion dollar project. That wouldn't include the daily operating costs.

2. Direct competition with the airlines, private run airline vs public run train. Who will win? They are saying the fare would be $50 each person each trip. This is a joke. It would have to be closer to $200 or $300 to cover the costs.

3. The top people or person was in charge of the Santa Clara Light Rail boondogle. He was incompetant and was promoted out of the project. It travels about 5 mph I believe. average.

4. The terminals at each stop would have to be like airport terminals to handle the thousands of travelers each day for parking.

5. Don't we have trouble keeping the AMTRAC trains running and not crashing?

6. We need technology so that the trains would not have to stop at terminals, just let go of cars that can unhook and switch to side tracks at the terminals. And also pick up cars this way that can accelarate on their own to hook up with the main train.

7. Probably thousands of new goverment workers making millions of $$ each over the first 10 years of the project.

8. The people supporting this are those expecting to make fortunes off of the project and if it fails in the way the project did in Boston Mass. no body will held responsible. (cost of overruns of 500%?? in Boston).

9. The state can't come up with the money doing what they are doing now. $14 billion debt and no way to find the money.

If people vote for this project they are crazy. More taxes, more bond interest.

The people promoting this are those who expect to become rich off of it. Let the people promoting it pay for it thru pledges of maybe $5,000 or $10,000 each per year. See how many will sign up for it.

A national project, prototype, might be worth while to work out the tech. details on a short rail line that many areas of the country would use if it works. A "Standardized" set up to be duplicated.

That would be more reasonable than spending billions to send people to the moon. This is going on now I just heard. Why?? Put them to work solving problems we have on earth.

With the country many trillions in debt we don't need to go to the moon or mars.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 27, 2008 at 10:20 pm

"The top people or person was in charge of the Santa Clara Light Rail boondogle. He was incompetant and was promoted out of the project. It travels about 5 mph I believe. average."

As a frequent user of lightrail, I can assure you that it travels much faster than 5 mph, closer to 20 or 30 MPH. I dont know how well it does finacially, but it does have good ridership during business hours.

btw, I'm no fan of this high speed rail project though.

"Not really sure why a high-speed rail should go down the Peninsula, but I suppose no one wants to build another under-bay tunnel."

It is my understanding of the plan is that the train will go up and down the peninsula but not across the bay. In this plan, San Francisco would remain what its always been, a hard city to get through when its not your end destination.


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Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2008 at 11:08 pm

To R S , I have only used the light rail a few times. There probably sections that travel at 20 MPH, but the trip(s) I took to Great America and First St took about 20 min or more from downtown Mt.View. It would go to each stop along the way and stop and wait even when no one was getting on or off. So the schedule was set to go slow. There were probably only 10 or 15 people on the entire train.
I hope things are better now. It has been a multi-billion $$project I believe.

Also I wonder if there have been any successful High Speed rail projects in the U.S. Along the high density East coast? N.Y. City to Washington D.C.?

Also the cities where it stops should be paying a major share of the cost as super high density housing and jobs could be located around the terminals.

San Jose and the land developers there want to make complete fools of Santa Clara County residents by having them pay for Bart To San Jose.
The S.J. Flea market land owner says he cant wait for bart to come by his hugh land holdings so it can be developed into super high density housing (and he can make hundreds of millions of $$ more with BART there.)

Also if High Speed Rail were to come to this area it should be in the bay lands where property would be cheap. No thousands of housed needed to be torn down and plenty of room for hugh parking garages. Above ground on piers. If it crashed wouldn't wipe out whole neighborhoods. The new Palo Alto Police bldg is probably within 20' of the current tracks, line. What would a crash there do ? Wipe out maybe a 100 police and a 80 million $$ bldg.


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Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2008 at 11:09 pm

To R S , I have only used the light rail a few times. There probably sections that travel at 20 MPH, but the trip(s) I took to Great America and First St took about 20 min or more from downtown Mt.View. It would go to each stop along the way and stop and wait even when no one was getting on or off. So the schedule was set to go slow. There were probably only 10 or 15 people on the entire train.
I hope things are better now. It has been a multi-billion $$project I believe.

Also I wonder if there have been any successful High Speed rail projects in the U.S. Along the high density East coast? N.Y. City to Washington D.C.?

Also the cities where it stops should be paying a major share of the cost as super high density housing and jobs could be located around the terminals.

San Jose and the land developers there want to make complete fools of Santa Clara County residents by having them pay for Bart To San Jose.
The S.J. Flea market land owner says he cant wait for bart to come by his hugh land holdings so it can be developed into super high density housing (and he can make hundreds of millions of $$ more with BART there.)

Also if High Speed Rail were to come to this area it should be in the bay lands where property would be cheap. No thousands of housed needed to be torn down and plenty of room for hugh parking garages. Above ground on piers. If it crashed wouldn't wipe out whole neighborhoods. The new Palo Alto Police bldg is probably within 20' of the current tracks, line. What would a crash there do ? Wipe out maybe a 100 police and a 80 million $$ bldg.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2008 at 1:33 am

There's a lot of linear projection going on in this thread - about fuel, transport, etc. etc.

I'm with the poster who said that a 50-year vision is necessary, going forward. This is ideal, with the caveat that the technology horizon for the next 50 years is far beyond our ability to predict.

That said...

I've recently been availed of some very good "telepresence" research at a few local labs. I can tell you that within 10 years, many people who normally travel on business will simply not have to. Or, they will travel far less. Imagining where this technology will be in 50 years simply boggles.

Although I differed with Paul Losch sometime back on the need for simultaneous builds of local urban transport and high-speed rail (with Paul arguing for the former, first, then build the latter, if necessary), my mind has been changed after thinking about what he has put forward, and what I've heard from transport strategists.

We are woefully inadequate in short-run, inter- and intra-urban transport capabilities. We have a political structure that mitigates against solving the vexing problem of the gas-powered internal combustion engine that powers most automobiles.

We_must_ solve that problem, and we _must_solve that problem without further delay.

I'm so concerned about the latter that I would happily give over authority to some uber-agency with strong powers of action (and a bias toward action) to _make_ inter- and intra-urban transport at least an order of magnitude better within the next decade - no excuses.

My sense is that within 50 years (here I go again, contradicting my claim against future projection :) we will see aircraft propulsion technologies that are a lot faster, quieter, cleaner, and capable of operating in more nimble space. If we can achieve economies of air travel in that way (we can _make_ this happen with good public policy) there may be no need to deploy high speed rail, because cheaper, faster, quieter, and less polluting air travel could save the day.

We could, for instance, end up with very fast, clean, mobile aircraft that can land on a dime, combined with very good regional rail systems, all bolstered by high-bandwidth connectivity.

One more thing, somewhat unrelated. We're built out only within the context of what we have come to expect in terms of housing size. We must begin to understand that building out open space, and long commutes (caused by building outwards) are not good things. In fact, they are very deleterious things that we must put a stop to.

Much of the world lives and works in smaller spaces that have been designed to delight the occupant. We can do the same. Infill housing, housing over retail, stepped housing, etc. etc., combined with well-designed mass transport that gets you where you want to go, when you want to go, at a reasonable price will ALSO contribute to a reduction in the need to travel.







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Posted by common sense
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2008 at 8:13 am

My understanding is that all the local transit agencies are competing with each other for funding and power. Not seriously trying to work together to create an effective transit system. That is the main problem. Whoever is behind this state initiative apparently does not have that challenge.

Mike, twenty years ago I worked as a telecomm consultant. The cutting edge thinkers all believed that teleconferencing/videoconferencing, coupled with ever-increasing travel costs, would serve to reduce business travel. It hasn't happened. No one can predict what the world will be like in 100 years, but I am guessing that in 20 years people will still want to be meeting in person. Virtual whatever has never cut it, and barring a major shift in the nature of human beings, it won't.

The sad thing is that you can travel in urban areas around the world and find local transit systems that work well. It's not as if we have to come up with something new. We can just borrow/copy/steal ideas that have worked elsewhere. But that takes us back to the problem that I noted in the first paragraph: ever-wrangling agencies that are more focused on their own political advantage than on serving us.

Therefore, I expect that the market is going to continue to move toward replacing the gas eaters with electric vehicles that will not pollute, will operate inexpensively, and will have the capacity to get you to LA in a reasonable amount of time.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 28, 2008 at 10:14 am

long time resident,

20 mph average
I came up with a simple way to figure it out.
I used the tool that I use to calculate the distance of my bicycle rides and followed the tracks. MV castro station to SJ tasman and 1st station is 10 miles.
The travel time between those stations according to the schedule is exactly 30 minutes.

My history with the system only goes back to 2004, I cant tell you what the speed was before that. I suspect it was not 5 MPH though, 3MPH is a brisk walk, a slow jog is 5 MPH or 12 minute miles. When I was riding in 2004, the lightrail was empty. Its crowded now. So if you metric is ridership, the lightrail is currently successful. If your metric is generating enough revenue to self sustain, I have no info.


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Posted by dave
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 28, 2008 at 11:20 am

The bullet train in France goes mostly through lightly built areas and has relatively few grade crossings per 10 kilometers. Not possible in California let alone the Peninsula.

It is heavily subsidized, i.e. costs the taxpayers much money.

The wind generated at speed is extreme. People within 80 feet of its passage have been blown over.

The cost for hundreds of grade crossings may be double that of the tracks.

Good interurban transport would make it possible to travel to a train terminal 20 or more miles away thus avoiding much of the local land use problems. Let's start with improving our local "subsidized" systems first.


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Posted by Not so slow
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 28, 2008 at 11:44 am

Mike agrees with someone in the city government even if he has to flip flop. No surprise here. Mike is ambitious.


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Posted by Bad Idea
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2008 at 12:50 pm

High speed rail won't get my vote. It is little understood in California, but high speed rail in England is heavily subsidized by the Government. In France it runs at a loss, however, the French Government is far more secretive about it's financial support. Heavily subsidizing their high speed rail systems was one of the reasons the two Governments ended their support of the Concord flights.

The British have been forced to rebuild their system because the original system went through towns in Kent at reduced speed. To bring it up to speeds of over 200 mph it has been rebuilt in a trench. This has been unbelievably costly. One central station has been built with huge parking garages so those living in the South of England can drive to a central location park and get on a high speed train to Paris.

I hope the residents of the Peninsula appreciate living in divided cities as huge sound walls will be built which will cut our Cities in half. Stopping at a couple of Cities along the Peninsula will greatly reduce it's speed turning it into a regular train.

Seeing the problems England had bringing a high speed train through the residential towns of Kent should have alerted the designers that bringing it up the Peninsula is a bad idea.




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Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 28, 2008 at 1:29 pm

Here comes my two cents.

What I wish to introduce here is not about high-speed trains, or even this train in particular, its possible constraints or affordances, its benefits and detriments, its appropriateness for California, now or in the future.

You see, it's not about the train; it's about the money.

What needs to be confronted, here and now, is that in less than 100 days the voters will be asked to vote for (or against) a bond issue measure (Proposition #1) for $9.95 billion to finance the train.

The voters, at this time, know little or nothing about this train. The information that is presently available, and will certainly be broadcast over the next several months, is marketing and promotional advertising for the train. Like many products huckstered on TV, the truth is not the issue. They tell us that this product will make us happy; that's all we need to know.

What the voters don't know, and the train promoters won't tell them is: That it won't cost $9.95 billion. It won't even cost $45 billion, the current projection. It will cost twice or three times that much. The voters won't know that it is Parsons Brinckerhoff, of Boston Big Dig cost overrun fame, that is the lead contractor for this train. We're not told that there is no business plan, no accountability, and no independent audit of any of the data that the CHSRA has been releasing. We're not being told that their EIR/EIS is incorrect on many, many counts.

No one is telling us that their numbers simply "don't add up." The voters won't be told that their $10 billion bonds will have to be repaid with twice as much over the life of the bond ($20 billion) and we, the taxpayers will have to pay it.

They love to say that it won't raise taxes. Since the $10 billion in bonds will be a debt on the state treasury for at least $650 million a year, that has to come from somewhere. They say that once built between SF and LA, it will generate $3 billion in revenues and $1 billion in annual profits. They are not telling us that in order to build the train to Sacramento and to San Diego, they will need to do that with the profits from the train.
However, they are not telling us that no passenger train in the history of the US has ever been profitable, Amtrak being a good example.

They are not explaining to us how the $9 billion from the bond issue (($950 million of it not being for the HS train), $12 billion from anticipated federal funding, and $7 billion from private investors will add up to $33 billion, which is the supposed cost of the SF to LA segment. And, there is no risk-management plan. They don't have a Plan B, in case all those billions don't materialize from private investors or from the Feds.

So, you see, it's not about the train. It's about screwing the taxpayers of California with the biggest fake boondoggle ever to pour out of a pork-barrel.


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Posted by Derek
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Paul, this is not just about getting people out of their cars, but also providing an alternative to flying. The nearly high speed Amtrak Acela line on the east coast has already taken a huge chunk of the market from the airlines.

High Speed Rail Betrayal, by your logic flying doesn't benefit anyone because as soon as you arrive at either end, you'll have to rent a car.

Dave, please provide documented proof that someone was blown over from 80 feet away by a high speed train.

Martin, If we can't afford $9.95 billion for high speed rail, then we surely can't afford at least double that for the alternative of expanding airports and widening freeways to move the same number of people.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Since someone quoted England, I will add my little knowledge on the subject.

The high speed rail to France is only one of England's fast train routes. It is quicker to get a train from the centre of London to the center of Glasgow, Edinburgh, or any of the larger cities in the north of England than to drive or fly. These fast trains do not stop (or only stop once or twice) and are met at either end by excellent local area transit, buses, underground or local trains, relatively cheap taxi services. Therefore someone doing business in London can get to a meeting in a northern city very quickly while doing business on the way in the train. Many of the city stations have nearby hotels with conference room facilities (hotel rooms without beds but having desks and other necessary business facilities) which means a business can say hold interviews near a big station without having to travel to a suburban office complex.

IF a country as small but densely populated as England can manage to see the benefits of investing in a train system, why can't the same be done here. And, there is such a thing as learning from mistakes of others. Don't copy the bad ideas, just copy the good ideas and make them better.


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Posted by pragmatist
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2008 at 3:18 pm

So, Derek, just curious, where do you stand on local transit? How would you feel about throwing $10 billion toward that especially given that the money isn't enough to pay for even 1/3 of the project between SF and LA?

It's funny that you bring up Acela. For starters, a lot of New Yorkers don't have cars so they do rely on public transit to get to work etc. Intra-city public transit has an advantage in a market where there are no easy alternatives. I was just visiting Washington and New York and looked into train schedules. The regular train trip, one way, was about $72. Acela, which shaved about an hour off the trip, cost twice as much. I ended up taking one of the many buses that follow that route, for approximately $17.50. But, unless I was on an expense account, I would have rented a car before paying $140 or more each way for Acela.

Too, the NYC<->DC trip takes about 3 hours on Acela. Given that the train stations are centrally located, that's roughly competitive with an air trip. But LA and SF are about twice as far from one another as NYC and DC. Despite what the proponents of high speed may say, I expect it will take about 5 hours for the trip. At that point, air travel becomes more attractive.

(No one said that flying removed traffic from city streets, but rather that flying to LA -- like taking the train -- typically requires the traveler to rent a car at the far end. Whether you fly, take the train, or drive, you will be adding to the congestion at either end of the route, and that's where the problems are, not along 5.)

Why not fix up Amtrak and see if people will use that before sinking billions in an Amtrak upgrade?


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Posted by No to high speed train
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 28, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Reaident, no doubt that trains are a civilized way to travel, but the fact is that high speed is very expensive and won't solve any existing problems. With recession and even depression possibly around the corner, we will be cutting back on everything else to pay for the train. Do we really want to flush our public schools down those tubes?

Much of the British rail system was built in the 19th century, before people had cars. Not sure there is any way to compare with spending mega-billions on such a system now.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2008 at 3:26 pm

common sense: "twenty years ago I worked as a telecomm consultant. The cutting edge thinkers all believed that teleconferencing/videoconferencing, coupled with ever-increasing travel costs, would serve to reduce business travel. It hasn't happened. No one can predict what the world will be like in 100 years, but I am guessing that in 20 years people will still want to be meeting in person."

We agree that people will still prefer face-to-face. My point is that the technology is going to be orders of magnitude better in 20 years, including the ability do perform many more degrees of interface freedom. This will make it easier and more inviting to get things done remotely. It will be one of a number of things that we use to alter the current pattern of climbing into a car and moving like a snail to our destination, at a cost that beomes more untenable by the day.


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Posted by dave
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 28, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Derek, ABOARD TRAIN V150, France (AP) - A French train with a 25,000-horsepower engine and special wheels broke the world speed record Tuesday for conventional rail trains, reaching 357.2 mph as it zipped through the countryside to the applause of spectators.

Roaring like a jet plane, with sparks flying overhead and kicking up a long trail of dust, the black-and-chrome V150 with three double-decker cars surpassed the record of 320.2 mph set in 1990 by another French train.

Except for the above I'm sorry I couldn't find any explicit reference to the effects of the wind generated by a bullet train. My reference was a newspaper article I cannot locate.

However the description does imply a very strong wind (and noise) was generated. I wouldn't want to be near a bullet train when it went by. It's bad enough when standing on a Caltrain platform and a 50 to 60 plus mph train roars through.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 28, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Derek,

Who is looking for an alternative to flying, other than John Madden? What a specious comment.

Getting people out of cars as part of their daily routine would be orders of magnitude more beneficial on numerous measures compared to the high speed rail concept moving people between LA and the Bay Area instead of their flying. I would love to be able to take a light rail train from Palo Alto to my company's office in Fremont. No can do, but it is possible if an extensive network of light rail were deployed across the Bay. I most likely will be retired by the time it occurs, but it still is a better use of these types of funds.

Actually my college age children most likely will be retired by the time this happens, and I am not assuming that they will become retired billionaires at age 30 due to some breakthrough internet idea that gets chased down by VC's. (I welcome that if it happens, but I am not betting on it.)


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Posted by Jenny
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2008 at 8:01 pm

Instead of wasting all this money on high speed rail, how about reviving the the old California "Daylight"!!!


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2008 at 8:47 pm

California High Speed Rail is a state project.

Your local transit are county or city projects.

If you vote no on prop 1 that doesn't mean more money goes to Muni Metro or BART or whatever your preferred method of mass transit is.

Voting yes on prop 1 does not preclude improvements to Muni Metro or BART or whatever your preferred method of mass transit is.

In fact, if the bond measure is passed and this thing is built, there will be improvements for Caltrain in the north, and Metrolink in the south. These two services would benefit greatly from the electrification and grade separations that CA HSR would bring.

A billion will also go for improving mass transit that connects to the high speed rail stations.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2008 at 9:06 pm

There's a lot of misinformation in these comments. Some of it might be deliberate to scare residents along the route to vote no. Here's what I can tell you.

1. No, the trains will not generate so much air to knock you on your butt. There are plenty of videos on YouTube of high speed trains barreling through stations at 186 MPH in other countries. Search for "shinkansen" or "TGV" and tell me you didn't fall in love with those trains.

2. The route will be fully grade separated and would not interact with any freight trains and vehicular traffic. CA HSR will interact with Caltrain in the north and Metrolink in the south, and will probably operate at 100 to 150 MPH in those areas.

3. The SF-LA route will take 2 hours and 38 minutes by express service. Local trains that stop at every station will obviously take a little bit longer to complete the trip.

4. There's no doubt that this project costs a pretty penny. Building new roads and airports also costs quite a bit. That's the very nature of transportation infrastructure.

But this is a solution that doesn't rely on gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel. The days of cheap oil, which is what this country's transportation infrastructure was built on, are over. You are literally living through the start of a revolution in the way we live.

5. To the poster who mentioned th Coast Daylight, it's still in the works. The partnership between Amtrak and Caltrans is working on starting the Coast Daylight in 2010/2011 with one round trip per day. A second round trip could be added by 2013/2014. Again, voting yes on prop 1 doesn't mean projects like this go away.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2008 at 9:14 pm

"Do we really want to flush our public schools down those tubes?"

Aren't our public K-12 schools already down the tubes? How would voting yes on prop 1 make K-12 schools worse? If they do, so what? Just send them to our public community colleges (we have one of the best junior college programs in the country), where after a couple years they can transfer to our public universities, which are also some of the best in the country.

Again, voting yes on prop 1 does not mean there is less money for health care, firemen/policemen, or schoolchildren.


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Posted by No Train Please
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 28, 2008 at 9:25 pm

This is a very expensive project looking for a problem to solve. Let's put our time and dollars on other problems. The person saying that the budget for this doesn't compete with the local transport projects obviously misses the point that we as taxpayers pay it all - so they compete for our tax dollars.

Cars cause a number of a big problems; planes not so much. Let's work on local transit to displace cars, instead of a huge project whose only certainty is the billions and billions of expense.


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Posted by disgusted
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 28, 2008 at 9:28 pm

Spokker, have you ever BEEN to the peninsula? I suspect not. If you're an example of the propagandists being funded by the proposition backers, then your proposition may be laughed off the ballot.

That third post said it all.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2008 at 11:43 pm

"Spokker, have you ever BEEN to the peninsula?"

I've taken several trips there. I loved riding Caltrain, especially the Baby Bullet service. Commuter rail in the area will only improve when CA HSR is constructed.

Sadly, I have not been given any money by CA HSR propagandists. I wish I could be paid for all this free advertising I'm giving them! :)


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2008 at 11:58 pm

"This is a very expensive project looking for a problem to solve. Let's put our time and dollars on other problems. The person saying that the budget for this doesn't compete with the local transport projects obviously misses the point that we as taxpayers pay it all - so they compete for our tax dollars."

Read about why we have a budget deficit here: Web Link

This article explains how the budget deficit and high speed rail are pretty much unrelated: Web Link

Prop 1 doesn't necessarily mean higher taxes. However, we should probably raise taxes to pay for basic needs such as education in California, whether or not prop 1 passes.


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Posted by Citizen
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 29, 2008 at 12:12 am

It seems like this whole area is going down the tubes. A high speed rail next to a high school? Is there room for long term parking?
This is horrid!
If you combine this with the overcrowding, lack of major supermarkets, dwindling water supply, wait list for average schools, over priced housing, poor air quality, too much traffic, crime rate, and too many people, it makes me wonder why people keep moving here.

If it keeps getting more crowded, people will look for jobs in other states.

Many residents already own homes in these states and are waiting to cash in. This area is going to look just like Los Angeles. The high speed rail will bring LA to us.



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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 4:11 am

"The bullet train in France is heavily subsidized, i.e. costs the taxpayers much money."
"but high speed rail in England is heavily subsidized by the Government. In France it runs at a loss"
I would tell this is complete bulls* but I prefer to be polite and talk about soviet-type disinformation.

The truth is, the French SCNF makes annual billion profits thanks to its TGV high speed trains. It's really not subsidized by tax-payers.

Also Spain has a large HSR network and is expanding it all the time. The population is about same size as in California but it's not so wealthy as California.
However Spain can afford HSR and Spaniards are very pleased with it.
If you are against HSR that's ok. But more real arguments and no lies, please!
You are free to crawl on congested highways and to inhale pollution but don't compain about it, please.



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Posted by No Train Please
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 29, 2008 at 5:49 am

Spokker, how old are you, like 12? You seem like either a shill or pretty naive, parroting the PR spin of the train promoters and other things your read on blogs.

Just on the financing point - reading the ballot measure (Web Link), these are General Obligation bonds, which means that, whether there is rider revenue or not, CA taxpayers will owe the money. Which is no surprise, because no lender would ever lend money against the dream that this project will actually get built and that there will be revenue to collect.

I like rail, I like HSR. But this is a boondoogle of large proportions. It requires tens of billions of other funding (that isn't there) to even try to get done (leaving aside massive cost overruns). The only thing certain is that CA taxpayers will owe $10 billion in bonds (which is $20 billion in payments), whatever happens.


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Posted by Bad Idea
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2008 at 5:54 am

Alan Chiaroni: The whole British Rail system including the High Speed Rail is subsidized by the Government always has been and always will. The French are still paying off their High Speed Rail,


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Posted by Eric
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jul 29, 2008 at 6:16 am

If High Speed Rail is going to be so profitable, why isn't an independent company buying up the land and building their own system? It is precisely because it will be unprofitable that it must be built by the State Government with your's and my tax dollars. This is just another huge debt to saddle the State with.




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Posted by No-To-Government-Run-Trains
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 29, 2008 at 6:22 am

> Aren't our public K-12 schools already down the tubes?

Yes ..

> How would voting yes on prop 1 make K-12 schools worse?

It won't .. since no matter how much one spends on schools, they are not going to get any better.

Your point about promoting rational arguments is a good one. Unfortunately, the promoters of this idea have not been all that honest about the need for this train, or the costs. This seems to be a growing problem with all government.

There is little evidence that spending all of this money will solve any problem, except enriching the construction companies that will get FAT building this white elephant.


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 8:21 am

"The whole British Rail system including the High Speed Rail is subsidized by the Government always has been and always will. The French are still paying off their High Speed Rail"

Let's suppose you are right... which has to be checked since the SNCF has made and is making huge profits with its HSR...
Are you suggesting that US tax-payers don't subsidize anything?
What about airports, runways, highways, agriculture, aircraft manufacturers, military industry etc...etc...

I suppose you have never been to Europe or Japan. I have been in France, that's why I know what I am talking about.
And all Americans who have traveled in a TGV, a japanese or a german HS train would like to have the same opportunity back home and surely agree with me.

Maybe you want California to be some sort of outdoor museum which attracts foreign tourists with steam engines smoking in the far west landscapes. Just hire a bunch of indians and cowboys and you have a perfect tourist attraction.

You will surely reply that the rich Argentina can afford HSR but the poor California cannot. Wow!


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Posted by Bad Idea
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2008 at 9:02 am

Alan Chiaroni: I was born in England and lived there for the first 26 years of my life. I've traveled extensively in Europe and lived with friends in France. I do know just a little bit about European countries and their political systems. In case you're wondering, I am a U.S. citizens.


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Posted by no snake oil for me
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 29, 2008 at 9:07 am

It's interesting that all these posters from "another community" started popping in when the discussion became lively. Apparently there's a well-funded network that suggests to me that the backers are very rich folks looking to become richer.

I love the lines like "Search for "shinkansen" or "TGV" and tell me you didn't fall in love with those trains" and "all Americans who have traveled in a TGV, a japanese or a german HS train would like to have the same opportunity back home and surely agree with me" and "rich Argentina can afford HSR but the poor California cannot."

Those lines are trying to woo us, get us to jump on the global bandwagon, and embarrass us respectively. All well-worn tactics that try to divert attention from the fact that this is a massive boondoggle that (as others have noted) does not address an existing problem!

As one who has traveled in the TGV, I would agree that high speed makes sense for traveling vast unpopulated areas. Running high speed rail alongside much of interstate 5 might make sense. Running it through densely populated areas does not. In any case, we can find far better ways to spend $20 billion +++


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 9:37 am

"Bad Idea: I was born in England and lived there for the first 26 years of my life. I've traveled extensively in Europe and lived with friends in France. I do know just a little bit about European countries and their political systems. In case you're wondering, I am a U.S. citizens."

Since you have traveled exyensively in Europe and lived in France I suppose you had the opportunity to ask the French a simple question: "do you think that the construction of TGV and HSR in the seventies was a bad idea?" What was their answers?
In don't think you might meet one single French, German, Japanese or Spaniard who would say to you "yes HSR was a bad idea".

But as I said before if you love sitting in a car on a congested highway it's your choice and I respect that. I don't want to mention air travel. You sure know what the situation is now in terms of time and comfort.


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 9:55 am

"no snake oil for me: As one who has traveled in the TGV, I would agree that high speed makes sense for traveling vast unpopulated areas. Running high speed rail alongside much of interstate 5 might make sense. Running it through densely populated areas does not."

What you say makes sense and I would say I can agree with that.

However there are 1250 miles of HSR lines in France.
Let's make a comparison:
California: 163,696 sq mi, pop. about 37 million
France: 212,742 sq mi, pop. about 64 million
Could you say that the 1250 miles of HSR lines go all through unpopulated areas?
France is not a desert. Look at a map if you don't believe it.


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Posted by Eric2
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 9:57 am

Hey no snake oil for me,

If you were smart enough to figure out how to see the ip addresses of the poster, you would see that it shows you and other hsr opponents are posting multiple comments under different names, and at different forums no doubt.

And as for you comment about this project becoming an embarrasment, this country already is when it comes to transportation. We are seen as third world country from industrialized nations. You and your anti-hsr group is what is embarrasing to the communities around you.


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Posted by Clem
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 29, 2008 at 10:44 am

A lot of folks are asking what HSR will do for them locally (besides lots of construction and worsened environmental impact).

Here's what: it will totally revolutionize Caltrain and ensure once and for all that electrification and world-class modernization aren't held up by petty fights among counties. Watch as Santa Clara balks at paying for their share of electrification, in order to throw money down the BART to Santa Clara sink hole. (If you think HSR is a boondoggle, BART is a Boondoggle with a Big 'B' !!!)

Caltrain can ride the coat tails of HSR in a big way.

You would never again experience the assault on the senses of that brake-screeching, bone-jarring, bell-clanging, horn-blowing, smoke-belching contraption that passes for public transit. It will be replaced by swift, smooth, and quiet commuter trains that will be world-class in every way-- in ways that most BART proponents can't imagine.

Vote yes on Prop 1.


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Posted by not buying it
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 29, 2008 at 10:59 am

I'm all for commuter trains, but that is not what this proposition is about. There's no way a train can get from San Francisco to LA in a few hours if it stops more than once. Only a tiny percentage of the prop 1 money is directed to local agencies such as Caltrain. So the high speed rail will NOT help the peninsula at all.

The fact that Clem is dissing BART shows his true colors. Public transit in this state has always been about agencies competing for dollars. HSR is no different.

Let's stop pretending that we have an infinite pool of funding and wake up to 2008 fiscal reality.


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Posted by Protransit SYSTEM
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 29, 2008 at 11:13 am

"But as I said before if you love sitting in a car on a congested highway it's your choice and I respect that."
I despise sitting in highway traffic, and I'm pro public transportation _system_. The problem is, 95% of my highway sitting occurs locally between SF and SJ. My choice, which you say you respect, is to fix the local problems we experience on a daily basis _first_. Give Bay Area commuters viable alternatives before installing high speed ways of bringing in more non-local traffic.

The first reply by Paul Losch nailed my sentiments exactly.

Clem, you're obviously not from the Bay Area or you'd realize that "revolutionizing" Caltrain isn't enough. We need a local public transportation _system_.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm

"Only a tiny percentage of the prop 1 money is directed to local agencies such as Caltrain. So the high speed rail will NOT help the peninsula at all."

You're not understanding the project at all.

When high speed rail is built it will require grade separation and electrification. So if HSR runs on the same tracks as Caltrain, Caltrain will benefit from that grade separation and electrification. Caltrain will be able to switch locomotives to more efficient electric ones powered by overhead catenary wires.

Caltrain's current top speed is 79 MPH. You could see 100, 115 or 125 MPH Caltrain service when the improvements are done. Similar things will happen in Southern California with Metrolink.

These improvements are in addition to the billion dollars for local transit connecting to the high speed rail system.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm

"I like rail, I like HSR. But this is a boondoogle of large proportions. It requires tens of billions of other funding (that isn't there) to even try to get done (leaving aside massive cost overruns). The only thing certain is that CA taxpayers will owe $10 billion in bonds (which is $20 billion in payments), whatever happens."

Infrastructure costs money, no one denies that, and capital infrastructure projects should be paid for by bonds. Schools and other vital services should be paid for by a steady tax stream.

The problem is that California has not been raising enough tax revenue to cover basic needs such as education and health care. This is due to heavy tax cuts including the vehicle licensing fee cut which cost us $6 billion in revenues, all to save California drivers $150 a year.

Whether or not prop 1 passes, we need to raise taxes.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 2:05 pm

"If High Speed Rail is going to be so profitable, why isn't an independent company buying up the land and building their own system? It is precisely because it will be unprofitable that it must be built by the State Government with your's and my tax dollars. This is just another huge debt to saddle the State with."

Because rail transportation is vital state infrastructure that is as important as roads and airports. Roads and airports are highly subsidized (and bailed out of rough times) and paid for with our tax dollars. We are severely lacking in rail, which is superior to flying when it comes to short and medium distance trips.

We don't expect roads and airlines to turn a profit, why do we expect the same of rail?


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 2:17 pm

"We need a local public transportation _system_."

I agree. But that's an issue for your local cities and counties to work on. This is a state issue. Voting no on prop 1 doesn't mean that 10 billion is going to suddenly be available Muni Metro or BART. While I would certainly vote yes on a state bond measure to give 10 billion to transit in the Bay Area, if such a thing existed, the rest of California would probably vote no. No one is going to help you with your local problems but your community.

And that's the problem with NIMBY attitudes. It's always about "me, me, me" and nothing ever gets done.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Spokker you are wrong that public transportation is a county and city issue. Public transportation is a national, state and local Bay area issue.

There should be an overall transportation body at the national level with jurisdiction over State and regions within that State. For the Bay area to look on Cities and Counties to oversee public transportation we will just get more of the same.

If nothing else, the Bay Area needs its own authority and it would only make sense to look as the Bay Area in part of the whole SanDiego British Columbia corridor.

No more piece meal transport solutions. Look at the big picture and then see how we fit in.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Interesting stuff.

It seems to me a high-speed rail line makes a fundamental sense--we're using a lot of jet fuel to get up planes for what's a relatively short hop in a very busy air-traffic corridor.

I admit I'm not concerned about parking. If there's a terminal in SF, there should be public transit to get to it

That said, the arguments against it going into crowded areas make sense to me. The Peninsula is very narrow--what's not populated is very hilly (or swampy). Also, going along the coast is nowhere the shortest distance between two points.

So what about something like the I-5 alternative--there are local trains (or Bart) to the less populated valleys--or even the Central Valley--and then the high speed rail runs from there. A fast Caltrain could meet up with it and connect SF, SJ and the Peninsula.

It would be also cheaper to run a line up to Sacramento--and if you can get out to the Central Valley there are no grade issues 'til the Grapevine.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 3:20 pm

"There should be an overall transportation body at the national level with jurisdiction over State and regions within that State. For the Bay area to look on Cities and Counties to oversee public transportation we will just get more of the same."

That's not a bad idea. Our federal transportation planning is very poor as well.

Perhaps if we did the right things with local transit some people wouldn't have such an aversion to high speed rail. Here in Los Angeles we have a growing Metro Rail system, but it's piecemeal. There are many gaps and it doesn't feel like a regional transportation system, but more of a bunch of little lines, some more effective than others.

We are in the process of putting a half cent sales tax on the ballot to fund new projects. Some of the most vital projects include the Wilshire "subway to the sea" and the downtown regional connector.

Unfortunately the San Gabriel Valley is threatening to vote no on the sales tax hike because they want a Gold Line extension to Azusa, which by all accounts, isn't as important. That region is better served by commuter rail like Metrolink. They are essentially holding the rest of the county hostage unless they get their gold line extension.

This is the problem with the "what do I get out of it?" attitude. Of course, the subway to the sea and the downtown regional connector would benefit a lot of people, even people who commute from the San Gabriel Valley on Metrolink.

Anyway, it's unfortunate that it has to be this way.


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Posted by No Train Please
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 29, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Spokker I can tell you like trains but don't get the financing part. You respond to the point about this being a $10-20b bond boondoggle by saying we should raise taxes anyway. Before you said this would be paid for by the riders (which was incorrect). Again, the only thing certain here is that the taxpayers will spend money; my guess is a lot more than anyway is telling us, since other financing for this project is far from certain.

As for the Peninsula, this project is all pain and very little gain. If the project had real merit and solved a big problem, we could justify doing our part. But this is a pork barrel project looking for a problem, and if it is built creates a high speed rail corridor right up Alma. I honestly don't see any good in it.


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Posted by Cal
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 29, 2008 at 4:06 pm

The NIMBYS from Menlo Park "crow" again!! this is thier full time job!!Every website/board that they can is posted with this same slanted misinformation! Gee now they care about the trees? They also
twist the post to the web board to scare people.All they really care about is the fact they dont want an underpass built by the condos!Not about the future of Train transit in California. Talk about the ultimate self centered mindset. I take the Caltrain all the time to Palo-Alto, the Grade crossings are dangerous..I have been the train when we hit a car..not pretty


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2008 at 4:29 pm

The sound and fury on this thread signifies nothing. This silly proposal will eventually collapse under its own weight.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 4:31 pm

I'm telling you how the budget deficit and this bond measure have nothing to do with each other.

The budget deficit was created because of a revenue shortfall, that is, we didn't raise enough taxes to cover state expenses. In fact, we have cut taxes severely over the years.

Now we're cutting vital services such as education, police/fire, and health care to deal with that shortfall. That isn't the answer. Despite the cuts, we will continue to have operating deficits in 2009/2010.

We need to raise taxes, and we should start by bringing back the original vehicle licensing fee. That act alone lost us $6 billion in tax revenue.

We should not cut our way to a balanced budget.

Web Link

I don't believe I said this would be paid for entirely by riders. I said that it doesn't necessarily mean higher taxes. If the train does end up requiring a subsidy, I would gladly help subsidize it with my tax dollars. The benefits far outweigh the costs.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2008 at 4:37 pm

"If High Speed Rail is going to be so profitable, why isn't an independent company buying up the land and building their own system?"

Every form of transportation is subsidized by the government, including strolling down public sidewalks. It's nothing new: the original transcontinental railroad was "incentivized" (read subsidized) by huge grants of government land along the right of way. And don't forget the state, Federal, and Interstate highway systems, direct descendants of the Roman Empire's road network.


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Posted by no to HSR
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2008 at 6:40 pm

I'm curious why an LA resident like Spokker thinks he needs to educate us. I'm wondering how he even found this board!

Spokker and other carpetbaggers may not be aware that the train runs very close to some pretty expensive homes. Just buying up the properties along the stretch in Menlo Park and Atherton (where the train practically goes through backyards) will cost about a half billion by my estimate. Not to mention the lawsuits from other neighbors whose property values will drop by about 50% because of this train.

These are all costs that I don't think Spokker and his employers have considered.

Why not run the train down the middle of the freeway? That location would make some sense, at least. Putting a wall down the center of the peninsula is about as unpalatable a solution as I can imagine.


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Posted by ben
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2008 at 6:55 pm

I've read every comment to date and two things seem to be overlooked.

One. The proposed line won't cost $10 Billion (plus interest)but over $40 Billion at present optimistic projections. The system may end up costing two or three times more. Consider the BART extension to SFO or the Boston tunnel for cost overruns.

Two. There will be hundreds of grade separations needed in urban areas costing many more billions. In France the bullet train passes mostly through lightly settled areas so becomes a lesser problem there.


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Posted by No Train Please
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 29, 2008 at 7:01 pm

Spokker, saying the budget deficit and train bonds have nothing to do with each other is like saying your mortgage and your utility bill have nothing to do with each other - all they have in common is that they are paid out of the same wallet. If we sell new bonds, we have to raise taxes to pay them off unless we cut expenses. More bonds = more principal and interest payments = more taxes or higher deficits.

The link you provided on this topic included this: "High speed rail is paid for with new bonds - which are repaid by the fares of HSR riders." You are right, you did not post it, but linked to the post that did. The statement is incorrect - the bonds are general obligation and repaid from our tax payments.

The bonds are one thing - then there are operating costs. If the train ran at a loss, then the taxpayers would pay have to make up that difference as well. More expense, more deficit impact.

You are right, though, that all transportation infrastructure requires investment, sometimes through bonds, and sometimes operating subsidies. Roads costs are covered, at least in part, by fuel taxes, and airports by passenger and gate fees. And this project will have at least some offsetting revenue. But as you can see in this thread, the question is really why THIS project is so worthy, given the pressing need for short-haul transit solutions.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 7:25 pm

"Not to mention the lawsuits from other neighbors whose property values will drop by about 50% because of this train."

How would they justify a lawsuit when the homes are already next to the Caltrain tracks? Sounds like these residents are doing just fine with heavy diesel passenger trains barreling through the area at 80 MPH.

"I'm wondering how he even found this board!"

Google :)

By the way, I love the personal attacks and insults. I've been nothing but civil. Can't say the same for high speed rail opponents who proclaim the sky is falling at every opportunity.


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Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 29, 2008 at 7:38 pm

Folks in Menlo Park and Atherton are not too happy about this either.
Do many people travel to LA?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Although I have spent time looking for it and can't find reference to it now, I am sure that when I first started reading about this project they were talking about these trains being in a cutting or trench for most of its miles through urban and surburban areas. I can't see anything that says that the proposed route would stay at ground level. To begin with, the trains need to have high wires for the connections running the length of the track and these are high voltage wires that need to be protected. These type of wires would not be the kind that we can have the type of grade crossings that we have now on the Peninsula.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 7:46 pm

"But as you can see in this thread, the question is really why THIS project is so worthy, given the pressing need for short-haul transit solutions."

Well, here's how it's going to go down. Someone is going to look at the bond (they might even check out the route map on the web site), ask themselves, "Will I use it?" and vote accordingly. Few people are going to read the ridership forecast. Few people are going to read an environmental impact report. I wonder how many people are going to read anything more than "What a yes or no vote means".

If more people think the train will be beneficial to them than not, it passes. If more people think it's going to raise their taxes and run over their children, it doesn't pass.

Only a small percentage of votes will be based on anything resembling reality and most votes will be based on lies and misinformation, from both proponents and opponents.

You gotta love politics :)


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 7:52 pm

"I am sure that when I first started reading about this project they were talking about these trains being in a cutting or trench for most of its miles through urban and surburban areas."

Some stretches of the route will be trenched, such as the stretch through Burbank. There are artist conceptions and what it might look like on the CA HSR web site.

This map gives you a better idea of what the route is going to look like: Web Link

It shows you which parts of the route will be at-grade, in tunnels, trenched, etc. All information subject to change of course.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2008 at 8:00 pm

"To begin with, the trains need to have high wires for the connections running the length of the track and these are high voltage wires that need to be protected. These type of wires would not be the kind that we can have the type of grade crossings that we have now on the Peninsula."

There will be no grade crossings on the high speed rail route. So that's not a problem.

Second, the wires will not have to be protected. They will be in the air where people cannot get to them.


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Posted by rider
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 29, 2008 at 8:04 pm

The big difference between the higher speed trains in Europe and Japan and the proposal here is the public transit infrastructure at the terminals.

The public transit here is bad. Dysfunctional. Abysmal. Not on. Unusable. Terrible. You name it.

You just can't get where you want to go without a car, unless you are extremely lucky, or without a job (i.e. have all day to go a short distance). Certain bus or light rail routes may artificially seem to make good time, but almost everyone needs a transfer and there just aren't enough options going to the places people need to go.

After this infrastructure is in place, even a 60 mph train from LA to SF would make some sense; we can speed it up as the demand warrants.

Before that infrastructure is in place, it just doesn't make any sense.


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Posted by T
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 29, 2008 at 11:59 pm

Spokker said:
"By the way, I love the personal attacks and insults. I've been nothing but civil. Can't say the same for high speed rail opponents who proclaim the sky is falling at every opportunity."

Actually, that's not true. You dissed the residents of San Gabriel Valley. Having lived there previously, and having worked in Azusa, your comment does not sit well with me. If the residents of San Gabriel Valley have expressed oppposition, I think their comments should be taken seriously. Instead, you are taking the easy way out and calling people NIMBYs.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2008 at 1:05 am

You're a NIMBY and I'm a carpetbagger. Everyone's happy.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2008 at 1:44 am

Rider,

Public transit is abysmal on the Peninsula. It's actually okay in SF and the East Bay. Though, of course, it's beyond abysmal in Marin. But, anyway, depends where you live in the Bay Area. But if the depot was accessible by BART you wouldn't have a huge demand for parking.

Spokker,

Just to give you an idea of the geography here, there are parts of the Peninsula in which there are probably fewer than five miles between the Bay and the hills. The railway track mostly runs near El Camino. In some areas, underground would be problematic because of a relatively high watertable--various parts of Palo Alto are actually below sea level.

So while there's a NIMBY element, I do see real problems laying down the sort of track described.


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2008 at 3:53 am

"No Train Please: Before you said this would be paid for by the riders (which was incorrect). Again, the only thing certain here is that the taxpayers will spend money; my guess is a lot more than anyway is telling us, since other financing for this project is far from certain."

Taxpayers pay for highways, this has been sais a lot of times. What has not been said is taxpayers subsidize at the same time the car industry which seems to be to many a holy cow. Without highways and other road infrastructure you should reconsider buying a car. Would you buy a horse instead?

Many of anti-HSR have a lot of prejudice but they haven't got a sufficient information.
Here some american comments:
"The TGV is faster, cheaper, and more practical than aircraft for distances of less than 1000 km (and that covers just about every destination in France). Unlike aircraft, TGVs travel from city center to city center, you can board them immediately, and they are always on time (to the second—I've verified this several times).

I recall arriving in a rush to board a TGV that was scheduled to depart at 5:05 PM. I had carefully set my watch, and I arrived at the platform with only about 30 seconds to spare. I scrambled aboard the train at 5:04:57 PM; exactly three seconds later, the buzzer sounded, the doors closed automatically, and the train rolled. By the time I found my seat and flopped into it, the train was already flashing past the Paris city limit (I noticed this by looking out a window—it's hard to feel any movement inside a TGV). Try that in an airport!"
Whole story: Web Link
If the French have done it, the Californians can do it too.


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Posted by Cal
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2008 at 6:53 am

Its ONLY 20 more feet wider for 4 tracks Gees..I ride this train alot
there is alot of old rundown structures near the tracks, not million
dollar homes. This is far better than some 8lane freeway! I live by a freeway on ramp..NOW thats something to bitch about!! This ramp was
redone and now has trees and landscaping much better. The same will be done with the rail line and it will have safe underpasses for cars ..google Caltrain and wrecks ..all happen at grade crossings.


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Posted by insane train
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2008 at 8:29 am

Are you another LA resident, Cal? Guess you have never ridden Caltrain up the peninsula or you would see those houses. I have friends who live in them.

Alain, your arguments are increasingly absurd. Now we're going to spend billions to compete with the French? Merci, mais non. Right now, the HSR trains in this country cost a lot more than the regular trains, flying, or driving.

You HSR sock puppets have some interesting tactics. You never address the real issues (money, appropriateness of location, more pressing problems) but instead try to distract us by showing us pretty pictures, insulting us, or invoking our competitive spirit. That may fly in parts of the state but we're a little more cynical about boondoggles around here.


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Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2008 at 9:13 am

The statement by Cal:

"its ONLY 20 more feet wider for 4 tracks Gees" in not correct.

Four (4) tracks along the CalTrain corridor require at a bare minimum 100 feet. Today, the corridor in some places narrows to 55 - 60 feet, yet it carries 2 tracks.

In addition during construction "shoofly" tracks will be needed taking up considerably more space.

The plans call for a berm of around 15 feet high above grade for the tracks and catenaries for the electrical wires about 20 feet above that. It is not pretty. It will require cutting hundreds of trees.

morris brown
stone pine lane
Menlo Park

To learn more go to:

www.derailhsr.com


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Posted by Eric2
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2008 at 10:14 am

"Morris Brown, to learn more, go to......"

All one will find there is MISINFORMATION with out a leg to stand on.

Don't listen to these bigots regarding any information they tell you. They want what is only best for THEMSELVES, no one else


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Posted by this train won't fly
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 30, 2008 at 10:28 am

Likewise, Eric2, you "another community" posters want what is best for your employer. Short-term, someone stands to make a lot of money off this boondoggle. But in the short and long-term, the rest of us--the people who actually live here--will pay the price.


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Posted by Cal
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2008 at 12:25 pm

No I lived in Milbrae and now the City..I ride the train all the time
to Stanford..SO I will look to see where these "homes' are then again
million dollar home are ranch homes here. I live by a freeway nobody
ever questions why we just oked 36billion in 2006 for freeway expansion? The truth is people in the USA are so anti-everything when
it comes to anything being built for public purpose. I only post on a
local board because the anti-rail crowd posts on all boards including
the pro-rail.


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2008 at 12:33 am

"Insane train: Alain, your arguments are increasingly absurd. Now we're going to spend billions to compete with the French? Merci, mais non. Right now, the HSR trains in this country cost a lot more than the regular trains, flying, or driving.
You HSR sock puppets have some interesting tactics. You never address the real issues (money, appropriateness of location, more pressing problems) but instead try to distract us by showing us pretty pictures, insulting us, or invoking our competitive spirit."

What can we say about your arguments? This not about competing with the French. The French won already the competition 25 years ago. They are light years ahead and we can say the same about rail transportation in Europe if we compare it with the U.S.
Of course HSR trains cost a lot of money. In this thread Cal said "nobody ever questions why we just oked 36 billion in 2006 for freeway expansion". That's a good one!

I think YOU don't want to talk about real issues:
- congested highways
- congested airports
- time delays in air traffic
- air pollution
- astronomical costs for new highways, runways, terminals
- oil price climbing all the time
- environmental issues, climate change
- saving the state more than 5 million barrels of oil annually
- reducing CO2 emissions by 12.4 billion pounds per year
- hundreds of thousands of new jobs which cannot be sent overseas
- ETC...
The HSR deniers don't want to discuss any of these problems.

As you lack information you can get some more here. This is the website of the Russian Railways.

RUSSIAN RAILWAYS DEVELOPING HIGH-SPEED TRAIN SERVICES
Developing high-speed services using trains capable of travelling at up to 250-300 kmph is one of the priority tasks Russian Railways is now undertaking.

Russia needs to build new high-speed connections between major settlements and is currently constructing the first two lines between Moscow and St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg and Helsinki, with further lines planned from Moscow to Sochi, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara and Yekaterinburg, as well as high-speed links between Russian cities with populations of at least one million people, including Omsk and Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk and Novosibirsk and others.

In May 2006, as part of the project "Developing High-Speed Passenger Services between St. Petersburg and Moscow," Russian Railways signed a contract worth EUR 276 million with the German company Siemens for the supply of eight Velaro RUS high-speed trains capable of travelling at up to 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph). The design also provides for the partial modernisation of small trains to allow them to operate at maximum speeds of up to 330 kmph (205 mph).

Whole story: Web Link

Russia more developed than the only superpower of the world? Come on! I thought the US had won the cold war... I was wrong.

Spain was a poor country 20 years ago. What happens now is incredible:
"The AFP reports that Spain's extensive development of its high speed rail network is putting the crunch on short-distance air carriers. The article contains a number of facts about Spain's bullet trains that should make anyone who's ever had to sit on a crowded airplane drool:
The government plans to have 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) of high-speed railway track in place by 2020, meaning 90 percent of Spain's population will live less than 50 kilometres from a bullet train station.
The high-speed AVE trains, which are fitted with video and music players and chairs that can swivel in the direction of travel, can make the 660-kilometre (410 miles) trip between Madrid and Barcelona in about two and a half hours.
Passengers say bullet trains have more roomier and comfortable seats than planes, faster check-in times and have the advantage of arriving and departing from downtown cores."

Whole story Web Link

This is not about insulting anybody here. This is more about your arrogant attitude. Do you really think the rest of the world is wrong and you are right?
If you look at all boondoggles on state as well as federal level you must admit that HSR costs are not a real issue.

Have you ever tried to make an omelette without eggs? Does it work?



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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2008 at 3:14 am

"No train please: The bonds are one thing - then there are operating costs. If the train ran at a loss, then the taxpayers would pay have to make up that difference as well. More expense, more deficit impact."

If the train ran at a loss? And IF my aunt had balls I would call her "uncle"....
Do you want facts:
"FRENCH RAIL COMPANY MAKES $1.7 BILLION PROFIT IN 2007

While airlines and automakers struggle to minimize their losses as fuel prices keep climbing, at least one transportation company is thriving. French rail operator, SNCF, scored a profit of over $1.7 billion in 2007 and expects to do even better this year. SNCF operates the TGV trains that routinely travel at speeds up to 200 mph in commercial service."

Whole story Web Link

HS trains are extremely profitable in Japan and Spain too.
Fact: If a country has HS trains, its rail company makes profit. If there are only classical slow trains, they will run at a loss because passengers gain nothing by traveling by train.
If you can provide comfort and speed, success is guaranteed.


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2008 at 5:46 am

What anti-SRH say about the following:

"SUBSIDIES KEEP SMALL-AIRPORT FLIGHTS IN THE AIR
Rep. Jim Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, wrote the law enacting the program in 1978 to prevent airlines from abandoning small communities. "This is a compact of rural America with urban America," he says.

Patsy Mitchell, front, and Holly Deuser have plenty of room to stretch out on a nearly empty flight from Macon, Ga., to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Imagine an aviation system in which planes fly two-thirds empty, fares are as low as $46 and the government pays up to 93% of the cost of a flight.
You don't have to look far. That system exists in the USA — and quietly is expanding even as most of the nation's 2 million daily air travelers see fares tick upward for increasingly crowded flights.

Each day, about 3,000 passengers enjoy mostly empty, heavily subsidized flights, financed by a 30-year-old program that requires the government to guarantee commercial air service to scores of small communities that can't support it themselves."

Whole story Web Link

Simple question: If everything else is subsidized why not HSR????



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Posted by No a fan
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 31, 2008 at 9:02 am

Alan Chiaroni from Millbrae has taken over our City blog on this issue. I'll let him have the last word because I know the majority of Peninsula voters are smart enough to vote against this hugely extravagant enterprise.

Alan you should lobby those folks in Southern California who really want to pay for this extravaganza.


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2008 at 9:57 am

"No a fan: Alan Chiaroni from Millbrae has taken over our City blog on this issue."

Don't be silly. Nobody is taking other anything. I just try to present facts (e.g. what has been done abroad and how it works) and how it looks like in terms of subsidies in the USA.
Some anti-HSR claim I don't address real issues. Well, I presented real issues and real arguments in this thread. It seems to me anti-HSR are now out of arguments.


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Posted by Clem
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2008 at 10:05 am

Morris Brown wrote:

> Four (4) tracks along the CalTrain corridor require at a bare
> minimum 100 feet.

Hey, don't let reality get in the way of a good story!

The Caltrain corridor already has several long stretches of four-track right of way. Those are as little as 80 (eighty) feet wide, fence-to-fence. You are welcome to check for yourself using aerial photography from Google Maps.

Sunnyvale: Web Link
Redwood City: Web Link
Brisbane: Web Link


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Posted by Footage?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2008 at 10:22 am

Clem, what are the widths along the Palo Alto stretch? What's the narrowest width, and where does it occur? I'd like to get an understanding of how bad the worst areas are. Telling me that there's a place or two where it's not so bad isn't helpful.

Are you saying that 80 feet will meet HSR minimums? I thought they were the ones who came up with the 100 foot figure.


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Posted by not quite that dumb
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2008 at 10:44 am

Note evasive tactics by the HSR pimps. Why not acknowledge that HSR would cause the destruction of hundreds of trees and the removal via eminent domain of almost that many homes? Even where the track may be wide enough already, the train typically runs at grade level. According to the OP, the new track would be elevated, and that plus the electrical components would result in a 35-40 foot wall where none exists now.

It's insulting to keep hearing how pretty the trains are and that the Russkies are dominating us. How dumb do you HSRers think we are? Lovely high speed trains would be wonderful...if they traveled through unpopulated areas and if we could afford them. Meanwhile, can we try to focus on the real issue, the fact that most of the transportation problems we face result from a lack of short-haul options? Electrifying Caltrain won't solve those.

There isn't an unlimited supply of funding. The financial shell games are coming to an end along with the declining financial markets.


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Posted by Clem
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2008 at 11:41 am

> Clem, what are the widths along the Palo Alto stretch?

Typically 80 ft.

Some parts are wider than they look. For example, the bike path between Churchill and PAMF is built on a revocable easement of Caltrain land.

Would there be eminent domain takings? Yes.
Would there be mature trees cut down? Yes.
Would the brand new Palo Alto station platforms be torn out and rebuilt? Yes.

I'm not arguing that HSR wouldn't have a huge impact up the peninsula. I'm only saying it may not be as terrible as some people say. It won't wipe out entire neighborhoods. I think it's the legitimate cost of progress. Now of course, if you own a house right next to the tracks, I understand if you're strongly opposed.

> Are you saying that 80 feet will meet HSR minimums?

I don't know. I do know that HSR trains will not blast through the peninsula at 220 mph. They will run at a more leisurely 125 - 135 mph between SF and SJ. The best analog would be the northeast corridor through New Jersey, a grade-separated, electrified, four-track right of way that mixes 125 - 135 mph express trains with 100 mph commuter trains. It's about 80 feet wide where constrained.

Here's a shot of it in Menlo Park, NJ Web Link

(for the record, I live in our local Menlo Park...)


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 31, 2008 at 12:28 pm

This issue was discussed extensively on this forum in the recent past ( Web Link )

The ideas presented then were better and deeper than those on this current thread. I suggest that you all read that particular thread, before you pontificate further.


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Posted by Footage?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2008 at 5:02 pm

"It won't wipe out entire neighborhoods."
Will it wipe out entire stretches of houses that back up against the tracks? You're still not addressing the harder hit areas by mentioning the tracks behind Paly. What about the areas just south of Paly? How will Mariposa and the entire stretch of Park be affected? Most (all?) homes along the tracks in Palo Alto are million dollar homes.


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Posted by Clem
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2008 at 5:48 pm

> Will it wipe out entire stretches of houses that back up against the tracks?

No. The right of way through Palo Alto is quite wide, typically 80 feet or more. The section behind Paly, which I singled out, is among the narrowest. The best way to ascertain this for yourself is to ride in the Caltrain bike car at the north end of the train and look out the end of the train-- then you will realize just how much room there is.

Houses in the areas you mention would have trains running 10 to 12 feet closer to their back fence. They would run more often, but there would be less noise: no horn blowing, and no un-muffled diesel exhaust.

The situation is much worse in Menlo Park, where there is a long stretch of right of way that is only 60 feet wide. This is precisely the area where Morris Brown (of Derail HSR fame) resides, and it is no surprise that he would take a NIMBY stand on this issue. That's all he boils down to, as I see it.

HSR scaremongers like to raise the specter of an elevated right of way, which comes with wide embankments, tall concrete walls, more noise, and generally obliterates the landscape. Not to mention the need for temporary shoofly tracks during construction. Of all the ways of achieving grade separation, elevating the right of way has the highest possible impact on the neighborhoods. Claiming that elevation is necessary and unavoidable is a red herring that they use to scare you about HSR.

(Of course, for the likes of Bechtel, the more earth moved and the more concrete poured the better off they are.)

Given the space available on the Caltrain right of way, lowering intersections is a much more effective method with a lower impact. The impact is still significant as properties in the vicinity of the intersections will need to be taken down to make room for embankments around the sunken intersections... but it's not the end of the world.

Unless it happens to you, which is what Morris Brown is worried about.

As always, the truth lies somewhere in between.


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Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Clem:

Actually I live over 500 feet from the tracks -- my home would hardly be affected, but there are others in the neighborhood which would be severley compromised and in many cases would have to be acquired by the Authority to complete the project. If my home was the reason I am against the project, it would be a simple matter to just move.

Being near the tracks has certainly brought the project into focus and as seen on our website we do not deal with local issues. This is a State wide system, which has had terrible leadership and thus far has resulted in a project that does little if anything to solve Bay Area and LA Basin congestion problems and which is huge in it size and scope and cost. The State can and should do much better.

I urge everyone to read the State Senate Transportation and Housing commission report on the project and judge for yourselves if this project should go forward.

Vist our website for more information.

www.derailhsr.com

morris Brown
Menlo Park


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 31, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Clem,

Thank you for your comments. I found them informative.

Yes, the Park homes are around a million, though usually a little less. But that, of course, makes them the cheapest in Palo Alto.

If the trains are running around 125 instead 200-plus, I think that would be doable, particularly if elevated.

When I was a kid, my grandmother lived in a home with an elevated BART track behind it. It was really a non-issue, though of course everybody was worried before it opened.

Alain's point about city centers, I think, is also a good one. And one that makes the car parking issue less of one. If all I had to do to get to L.A. was get to downtown Palo Alto, I could easily get a ride or grab a cab. Oh, heck, maybe, just maybe, I'd ride my damn bike.


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Posted by Clem
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Morris,

I apologize to you for having been presumptuous about your motives.


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Posted by Cal
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2008 at 10:41 pm

Morris and others...NONE of you were there when that Railroad was built..YOU people MOVED there.not the rails.I moved next to a freeway.IT was built on 1956..I have no reason complain..nor do you


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Posted by cal
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2008 at 10:53 pm

BTW...on google looks kinda wide in MP compared to other spots..But all this fighting is some issue the FRA can fix..there is no need to have 4 tracks thru SB towns..that is over regulation from WAS DC .In
Europe all HST trains share urban tracks into the center city..Only here do need be Baby tanks with there own tracks..GEE the dumb Euros?? NOT!!!


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2008 at 12:09 am

"Cal: Europe all HST trains share urban tracks into the center city..Only here do need be Baby tanks with there own tracks..GEE the dumb Euros?? NOT!!!"

You are quite right, it doesn't make any sense.
HSR is fine, only the adopted design sucks. Some comments of Michael Mahoney
Whole story Web Link

"In France, since the high-speed line was built, rail travel has taken 90 percent of the market share between Paris and Lyon, with air travel at 10 percent. The French high-speed train starts out from the station at normal speed. Once in the countryside, it switches onto the high-speed line and accelerates to 150, 175, or even 225 mph. It continues at high speed until it nears the destination city, then it slows back down, returns to the regular tracks, and continues to its destination.

That high-speed stretch in the middle of the trip gives the train a very favorable time start-to-stop. The high-speed train from Paris to Lyon averages 127 mph; the one from Paris to Strasbourg averages 135 mph.

The French built the high-speed line out in the countryside for three reasons. First, rural land is cheaper than urban land, so the right of way is cheaper. Second, there are fewer roads or other railroads to be bridged, and so fewer costly overpasses are needed. Third, in the countryside, there are fewer citizens to be bothered by the noise. High-speed trains make noise - lots of noise.

This reasoning is the bedrock of high-speed train construction in France, in Belgium, in Germany, in Italy, and in Spain - in short, in all the Napoleonic countries.

If we in California were to build our train the European way, it would start in San Francisco and travel at normal speed to San Jose, then over the mountains into the Central Valley, where the high-speed line would begin. The train would run on that line near Interstate 5, though not right next to it, down the west side of the valley to Los Angeles. Once near the Los Angeles area, it would slow down and return to the normal train tracks.

If that idea had been adopted, the rail system could have been built by now. Unfortunately, the Central Valley politicians asked that the system serve the communities of Merced, Fresno, and Bakersfield, so Merced residents would have a high- speed train as well. An airliner from San Francisco to Los Angeles does not stop in Merced.

However, the high-speed rail authority declined to pursue the first idea, and went forward with the second. Instead of going down the west side of the valley, the high-speed line runs down the Highway 99 corridor, next to the existing Union Pacific tracks, with stops in each city on the way. Stops, however, are death to a high-speed system. You can't get from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 1/2 hours if you stop on the way."

Michael Mahoney is here right. It should have been better to use French experience. It's maybe not too late to do it now and to reshape the route. There is no need for HSR track through urban areas. Just bypass Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield and build the line on rural land. Otherwise you simply kill the idea of HSR.

About the Japanese model I agree with what has been said in the following thread Web Link

"I think France is a much better model than Japan for California's HSR network, for a few reasons. The biggest one is that Japan has an HSR network that is entirely separate from the main railway network, because HSR uses standard gauge, whereas the main Japanese network uses narrow gauge. In France, on the other hand, the TGV system is tightly integrated with the mainline rail network, which makes for a more convenient and cheaper system. More convenient, because it can reach a huge number of destinations away from the HSR line, and cheaper, because in general, the TGVs use existing lines to get into urban centers, avoiding expensive and disruptive construction. Spain, incidentally, has the same problem as Japan, with a mainline network that is not standard gauge, and so they need a combination of more dedicated HSR lines and fancy gauge-changing equipment for their trains."

Comments?





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Posted by BOB2
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Aug 1, 2008 at 6:39 pm

I support High Speed Rail for California, in concept. But, this proposition is a Quentin Kopp political enterprise. It is about taking taxpayer backed general obligation bonds, issued by a State that can't pay them back, without further cutting other services, like teachers or police, to generate large politically connected contracts. All this for a proposed rail system, that would fail to meet most of California's real rail passenger needs.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2008 at 8:00 pm

"All this for a proposed rail system, that would fail to meet most of California's real rail passenger needs."

You mean like that direct LA-SF route that doesn't exist today? You mean those packed San Joaquins? You mean those packed Pacific Surfliners from LA to San Diego? You mean those short-haul flights that could be better served by rail?

Nope, CAHSR doesn't meet any of those needs. California High Speed Rail? More like California High Speed FAIL.


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2008 at 5:31 am

"BOB2: All this for a proposed rail system, that would fail to meet most of California's real rail passenger needs."

Allegations must be well-founded. This one is not.
Let's ask the right questions:
1. Does California need a HSR line from SF to LAX and at a later stage from Sacramento to San Diego? Yes
2. Why? Because of the issues anti-HSR don't want to discuss which are:
- congested highways
- congested airports
- time delays in air traffic
- air pollution
- astronomical costs for new highways, runways, terminals
- oil price climbing all the time
- environmental issues, climate change
- saving the state more than 5 million barrels of oil annually
- reducing CO2 emissions by 12.4 billion pounds per year
- hundreds of thousands of new jobs which cannot be sent overseas
- and you name them
3. Can California afford HSR? If many not so wealthy countries (e.g. Agentina, Morocco, Russia) can afford it, California can afford it too. Saying it cannot is simply ridiculous.
4. Why? This is simply a matter of PRIORITIES. Do Californians want to put tens of billions for expanding freeways, airports and building new air terminals or for building HSR. This the real issue.
Considering the very high rate of population growth, anyone sensible understands the first option is a dead-end.
One example of wrong priorities? International studies show that the performances of US education and health care systems are very poor. At the same time the cost of the useless and damaging Irak war was today $562,5 billion! (Web Link). No weapons of mass destruction have been found and Al-Qaida is unfortunately stronger than ever.

5. Is the adopted route OK? No, others like Michael Mahoney have explained why (read Web Link)
6. Does HSR work? It works fine, Europeans (specially French) and Japanese have decades of experience and HSR is spreading all other the world
7. Is HSR profitable? Yes, We need no speculation about that. We can see how it looks like in countries which have been operating HSR for a quite long time

Let's summarize: to make an omelette, YOU HAVE TO BREAK EGGS!


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2008 at 7:21 am

"Dave: The wind generated at speed is extreme. People within 80 feet of its passage have been blown over."

This is complete bulls* and I can prove it.
Check the following video: Web Link
Double bullet trains in Japan and nobody blown over the platform.
There has never been a report of a single person blown over in countries operating HSR.


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Posted by No Train Please
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 2, 2008 at 7:44 am

Alain, the idea that you passionately support the train is nice. But it seems like you assert it will make money without having run a single number or done any investigation into the economics of the project - is that right? It may or may not be a good investment in other situations (I have not seen the evidence that is), it does not mean we would. We cannot just build it in the hope they will come. If the evidence is so clear, it should pencil out nicely - but where is that analysis? Surely someone has put that ROI analysis together and neatly packaged it. Can you show us?


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Posted by A Train for Overseas Tourists
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2008 at 8:40 am

They said BART to the airport would make money. It was losing money so badly that they had to close it down for awhile. Because of the favorable exchange rate many overseas passengers are arriving at SFO and it is they who are riding BART to and from the airport. I heard that they bought BART tickets with their flight tickets into SFO. Anyway, they are not Americans. Will Americans ride the new HSR, I doubt it, and we can't rely on overseas tourists to fill the HSR train?


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Posted by Love trains but not HSR
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Our local highways are congested, for sure. But I don't think 5 is, nor is 101 once you get outside the metro areas. I would be the first to vote against money spent for new inter-city freeways. The demand simply isn't there.

There is already an Amtrak route form San Francisco to LA and San Diego. I've taken that train and it's slow. On one trip, we were delayed four extra hours because of a break in the track. Seems to me that it would be a lot cheaper to fix up that system than launch a new one.

Saying "Morocco can afford it so why can't we?" is just plain naive. For starters, I would bet that the land adjacent to the train tracks in those countries isn't selling for $5mm/acre. I would rather ask why we cannot put together an efficient and affordable local transit system, which is what we truly need. After all, most of us use local roads every day, but travel to the south end of the state only a couple of times a year.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 2, 2008 at 1:58 pm

The air corridor between SF and LA has been and still is, I think, the busiest in the world. Thanks to security issues and the distance of parking from the airport, what used to be a 45-minute hop can easily be a four-hour chunk from door-to-door.

Meanwhile, driving from SF to LA is a good seven to eight hours.

So, there's already a lot of traffic between LA and SF--not surprising. The two modes of transit--air and car--both have issues that would be handled well by HSR. The central location of train terminals would compensate in terms of time for the speed advantage of actual air travel. I mean, I'm 10 minutes from the train depot here.

Meanwhile, there are people who essentially commute to LA and SF from the Central Valley. There would be people who'd commute every single day to Silicon Valley from Fresno on HSR.

Think for a moment about the connections between the Bay Area and LA area industries. SoCal and SF have huge defense links. Do you think no one's flying on a regular basis between Pixar and Disney? LucasFilm and Hollywood?

Back when air travel was relatively cheap and it was a quick in-and-out through the airports, that was the way to go. But with security issues and the longterm outlook on fuel prices, I think HSR's time has come.


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Posted by no to HSR
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 2, 2008 at 3:50 pm

OhlonePar, I'll bet you that the few dozen Pixar and Disney execs who regularly fly the SF-LA route use a corporate plane. And they're not going to give that up for HSR. Sure, .00001% of the population has an LA-SF commercial air commute, but I really don't think we should be devoting our resources to trying to lure them into HSR. (By the way, is HSR planning to stop in Fresno? We keep hearing how fast it will be, but hard to believe it's going to make all those stops and get from LA to SF in two hours, oh, and it's not going to go very fast on the peninsula. Those facts don't add up.)

SF-LA is not the busiest air route in the U.S. It's not even in the top five. NYC-DC is, despite the fact that they have HSR. Incidentally, we might want to use their HSR as an example of how much HSR would cost to ride and how heavily it would need to be subsidized.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2008 at 7:36 pm

"There is already an Amtrak route form San Francisco to LA"

An Amtrak train route from San Francisco to LA does not exist.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 2, 2008 at 10:09 pm

no to HSR,

Plenty of people don't get the corporate jet perk. Steve Jobs, yes, but not the bulk of people who fly back and forth.

What's the source for your info on busy corridors. I just Googled it and did come up with it being the busiest corridor if you included Oakland, SJO, Burbank and the other airports around LA.

One figure was 6.1 to 6.2 million seats a year. Another was 15,000 to 20,000 seats a day--this was 2006, so it may have dropped recently.

Anyway, seriously busy. There's a huge amount of commerce between the Bay Area and LA.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2008 at 2:19 am

One of the primary goals of this project is to make travel in and out of the Central Valley easier. It's a growing region and is underserved by airlines.

For example, the lowest price for plane ticket from LA to SF is $125. On the same day a plane ticket from Fresno to SF is between $250 and $300.

There are a bunch of examples similar to that and these routes would be better served by high speed rail anyway.


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Posted by Tom West
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2008 at 3:38 am

"It means four (4) tracks running through our cities, requiring a minimum of 100 feet of corridor on which CalTrain currently has only 60 -65 feet in many portions."
Ummm... no. You can easily fit four tracks within a 60ft right-of-way. You can do it 50ft if you have to, although maintainence requires more effort (60ft allows for a nice big gap between the middle two tracks, allowing vehicular access).
So, before moaning, check the facts.


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:48 am

The profits of the French SNCF was ONLY 1,7 billion in 2007 because of the regular and local lines which are not profitable. If the SNCF could operate only HS lines without regular and local lines its profits would something like 10 billion.

Who could HSR is not profitable?


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Posted by No Train Please
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:24 am

Alain, it sounds like you haven't penciled it out. Can you point to anyone who actually has done the math to show how this will make money? There are so many variables and differences between the French TGV and our situation that we can't rely on that comparison. While "How could HSR not work" may sound like a good argument to a believer, for a $10B bond we deserve real analysis.


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Posted by No to HSR
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2008 at 8:32 am

The HSR proponents are promoting their baby as a way to transport Central Valley commuters into Silicon Valley while the dense housing mafia insists that we need to build more and more housing units here so that those commuters can stop commuting.

Meanwhile, the taxpayers are in the middle paying for the hubris-stoked folly on both sides. Sorry, these projects simply don't pencil out for the rest of us.


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2008 at 8:23 am

"No Train please: Can you point to anyone who actually has done the math to show how this will make money? There are so many variables and differences between the French TGV and our situation that we can't rely on that comparison. While "How could HSR not work" may sound like a good argument to a believer, for a $10B bond we deserve real analysis."

You are absolutely right. I have some doubt too about the credibility of the figures given to us. I found the following: "When complete, the high-speed rail lines will attract 68 million travelers yearly."
When? It's maybe possible in 25 years from now. MAYBE.
Another question: How many trains will be operated between Sacramento and San Diego? I haven't found any information about this critical question.
Some figures from France: about 1250 miles of HS lines, several international connections (Paris-London, Paris-Stuttgart-München, Paris-Brussels etc) about 92 million passengers yearly with about 600 TGV trains.
92 million passengers with 600 (!!!) HS trains in France.
What about California? How many HS trains will carry 68 million passengers yearly?
I am not sure about this figure, 68 million. However, I think HSR will have plenty of customers Because:
- the price of gas is already high and will climb further
- traveling by plane takes time and money, at least 4 hours between LAX and SF, from door to door
- traveling with a regular train is not convenient and takes a lot of time
- traveling by car is expensive, takes time and is not convenient

It's good to be critical and I don't want to blame anybody for this, on the contrary, but if we think with a perspective of 30-40 years, I can't see any other option than HSR.




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Posted by Oh Yeah?
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 5, 2008 at 1:05 pm

"An Amtrak train route from San Francisco to LA does not exist."

Technically true, but picky picky. Take CalTrain (operated by Amtrak, BTW) from SF to SJ and transfer to Amtrak's Coast Starlight to LA.


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Posted by The train of pain
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2008 at 8:30 pm

I took Amtrak from San Francisco to Los Angeles. There was a quick and free shuttle that transported passengers from downtown San Francisco to the Amtrak station. Seems efficient to me given that there isn't room in San Francisco to build a grand central station.

The HSR is going to need a terminus with quite a bit of parking. Where will that be located, and has anyone factored in the cost for that?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2008 at 8:55 pm

Train of Pain

Wrong.

There will not be a need for plenty of parking at a station in central SF. Most passengers would find driving there inconvenient. It would make much more sense to make sure that there is convenient localized transportation, BART, MUNI, Caltrain, shuttles to SFO, ferries, and everything else. That is why this has to be a coordinated package. We need to have only one stop at San Jose with similar localized transportation.

This is not a drive rail drive system that we need. It is a speedy, efficient, reliable transport system from where the passengers live to where the passengers want to go with perhaps only a cab ride or at the very most a car ride to the nearest Caltrain station.


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Posted by First things first
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 5, 2008 at 11:28 pm

"It would make much more sense to make sure that there is convenient localized transportation, BART, MUNI, Caltrain, shuttles to SFO, ferries, and everything else."

Exactly. And there are no plans for that. No money for that. HSR is the cart before the horse. I predict that passing this proposition is going to make a few people even richer, and that we are not going to see high speed rail for decades, if ever.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2008 at 1:13 am

"Technically true, but picky picky. Take CalTrain (operated by Amtrak, BTW) from SF to SJ and transfer to Amtrak's Coast Starlight to LA."

I've done this, and I'll be doing it again next week.

The trip takes roughly 13 hours, 14 if you count my final leg into Anaheim. That's if the Starlight isn't late, which it was by about 3 hours the last time I rode it. While I enjoy my experience on the train, I think we can improve on that running time a bit.

The Coast Daylight, which might start in 2010-2011 based on what I've read, would be an improvement in that you wouldn't have to rely on the chronically late Starlight, where most of the delays happen north of the Bay Area. Improvements could also be made to the coast line to improve the running time a bit.

A one-seat train ride from Downtown LA to Downtown San Francisco. Now that would be something. Hopefully one day we'll be able to make that trip whether it be on a Starlight, a Daylight, or a high speed train.


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Posted by not buying HSR
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 6, 2008 at 8:52 am

If HSR won't be subject to the same delays that the Amtrak routes are, then why not remove those delays instead of building a whole new system? Voila, I just saved $40 billion!


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Posted by Alain Chiaroni
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2008 at 11:32 am

"Spokker: I've done this, and I'll be doing it again next week.
The trip takes roughly 13 hours, 14 if you count my final leg into Anaheim. That's if the Starlight isn't late, which it was by about 3 hours the last time I rode it. While I enjoy my experience on the train, I think we can improve on that running time a bit."

That's the point: LAX - SF in 13 hours for 347 miles. French haters could surely use this as a mass destruction weapon. If the French would hear this, they would surely laugh so much that it would kill them all.
This because TGV trains go from Paris to Marseille in 3 hours for a distance of 485 miles.
As Spokker enjoys this kind of trip in 2008 I suggest California could use again the good old steam locomotives of the far west we see mostly in movies. You can look at these wonderful engines and trains here Web Link
We have still to remember that we live in 2008.

Is there still anyone who doesn't want HSR for California???
Being critical and suspicious is a good thing but blindness is not a advantagous human feature.


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Posted by show me the money
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 6, 2008 at 11:34 am

Yes, I'd love HSR, and a 30-room mansion and servants, along with $300 bottles of wine.

Why aren't we improving the existing transit?

You paying for this, Alain?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Question for those who have done SF to LA by rail. How does this compare with Greyhound?


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2008 at 3:04 pm

"Yes, I'd love HSR, and a 30-room mansion and servants, along with $300 bottles of wine."

The difference is that HSR is vital transportation infrastructure.

"Why aren't we improving the existing transit?"

We are trying. Here in LA there's a half-cent sales tax measure that has varying degrees of support. It would provide billions for the construction of light rail, a subway, bus rapid transit, and even a freeway widening.

"Question for those who have done SF to LA by rail. How does this compare with Greyhound?"

Greyhound does the trip between 8 and 12 hours. I would much rather take the Coast Starlight because the scenery is really beautiful along the coast route. Amtrak travels through some very out of the way locations that cars can't go.


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Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Issues I don't think are covered, not in depth anyway:

The goverment competeing with private business like the airlines.

Since when do goverment agencies do things effeciently and at low cost or meet their projected costs.

The people designing the system will want everything to be invented by them and not copied from successful models/project. Isn't BART unique in every way. Nothing standard.

Almost all of the public transist systems do not serve airports in a fast and efficient manner. Why would they for HSR. The private cab drivers wont allow it.

How many stops along the way? None if the time is going to be what is talked about. Unless a new tequnike is developed to drop off and pick up train cars along the way is developed so that the main train does not come to a stop,unload, load, start-up.

The idea that passengers won't need a car at the beginning and end of their trip is CRAZY.

The train operators can go on strike if they don't get their depmands. High wages, hugh benifits, retire at 55 with full salary, etc, etc.

Law suits all over the place. enviromental, noise, deaths, train crashes (AMTRAK).

The same contractors that built the fiasco Boston system are apparently lined up to bid and build this system. their sys cost 300% to 400% over projected costs and much had to be rebuilt because of shoddy workmanship.

How effiecient and reliable is AMTRAK? Does it make money.

Where is the hugh amount of power,electric, coming from? Coal plants? Solar? Wind?

Is it going to have magnetic levetation?

If 60 million people used the sys every year this works out to about 7,000 per hour. How many trains pre hour? how can a terminal handle 7000 people per hour. How many local busses would be needed to handle this many people?
Even divide the 60 million by 10 and see what you get/.


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Posted by Spokker
a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2008 at 3:18 pm

"Since when do goverment agencies do things effeciently and at low cost or meet their projected costs."

Yeah, because those airlines are rolling in dough. Only one airline is profitable, Southwest, because they successfully hedged their fuel costs. But that isn't going to last forever.

"The people designing the system will want everything to be invented by them and not copied from successful models/project. Isn't BART unique in every way. Nothing standard."

CA HSR will be based on traditional steel wheel on steel rail standard gauge high speed rail technology already used in other countries. This isn't BART.

"How many stops along the way?"

There will be local, limited, and express trains. Some trains will serve all stops. Express trains will serve a few.

"The idea that passengers won't need a car at the beginning and end of their trip is CRAZY."

No one said that they won't. It's entirely the choice of the rider. You can take a car, bus, plane or train to the high speed rail station, whatever is available to you.

"Law suits all over the place. enviromental, noise, deaths, train crashes (AMTRAK)."

Lawsuits are a part of American life.

"The same contractors that built the fiasco Boston system are apparently lined up to bid and build this system. their sys cost 300% to 400% over projected costs and much had to be rebuilt because of shoddy workmanship."

The Big Dig is called that because it was one of the most complex undertakings in American history. If you ask the commuters in Boston today, are they sorry it was built? Probably not.

Keep in mind that another contractor was also involved in the Big Dig thing. The project had problems, no doubt, but that doesn't necessarily translate into problems for CA HSR, which is less complex than the Big Dig. It's just a train after all.

"How effiecient and reliable is AMTRAK? Does it make money."

How efficient are airlines? Do they make money?

"Where is the hugh amount of power,electric, coming from? Coal plants? Solar? Wind?"

Most of the electricity in this country is generated from coal. Personally I would like it to be nuclear.

"Is it going to have magnetic levetation?"

No.


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