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Reps: High-speed rail should merge with improved Caltrain system in San Jose

Original post made on Apr 18, 2011

Saying that government funding for California's High-Speed Rail program will be "severely limited ... for the foreseeable future," local federal and state representatives are calling upon the California High-Speed Rail Authority to essentially link the high-speed rail route from Los Angeles with an improved and electrified Caltrain system running from San Jose to San Francisco.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 18, 2011, 11:20 AM

Comments (78)

Posted by howard, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2011 at 11:38 am

At minimum, this will require grade separation at all intersections. Otherwise traffic will be tied up because of the increased frequency of trains. Not to mention tragic deaths caused by failure to separate the grade.


Posted by Out of date, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2011 at 11:56 am

Is this the beginning of the end of HSR? If California cannot afford HSR and the Federal government is cutting back, where is the money coming from?

California cannot borrow unilaterally from a foreign country i.e. China or Germany, unless the U.S. Constitution is amended. However, the Federal government can borrow for us, but will they?

Meanwhile I'm waiting for the next technological breakthrough - mini helicopters or flying cars!!!


Posted by Mary, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Time to get Feinstein and Boxer 'on board'. Those two basked in the limelight of the ground breaking for the new all-transit terminal in San Francisco, gushing over the station for high speed rail and the future. Also Obama recently "allocated" $53B
- yes billion, for HSR. Some states said respectfully, 'get lost' and won't take the money. Florida is one. And most of the equipment would be built by foreign firms - like the steel roadbed plates for the new Bay Bridge. Those came from China. Foreign firms are also bidding to build the entire HSR. As for 'jobs', remember the transcontinental railroad of the 1800's.


Posted by Brilliant move, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm

This is the best possible outcome for high speed rail in the peninsula. Using HSR for the long haul and modernized existing rail for the short haul is a great idea and the typical pattern in most urban areas.

Well done.


Posted by underground, a resident of Southgate
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Yes for HSR, and Yes for San Francisco to be the starting point. I live in Palo Alto close to Alma, and I vote for HSR in 2008. People of California want the HSR from LA to SF not SJ. For all account San Jose is not a real city. San Jose is just another Suburban, but very Large Suburban city. Said that I am not saying SJ is a bad city. SJ has not much of a cultural/downtown life apart for every once while to bring the kids to the Tech Museum. but everyone drives in SJ. so, this is not going to fly. it is just another attempt to stop the HSR at all costs, but it is not going to happen. Local politician just want to look good to the imense majority of seniors taking advantage of Prop13 and living in here in Palo Alto.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Why are we starting another blog on this subject. There are 129 postings in "Around Town" under "Train hits car, service suspended." Hopefully, the Weekly on-line staff will combine the two blogs.


Posted by Project Thor sm, a resident of Woodside
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm

We'll take Florida's money. Hope Jerry called and offered.

>out of date: thought you were serious until your last lime - great!

>mary: bemoaning lost manufacturing in this thread is like the geeks who talk about skyrocketing deficits starting in the 80's. So get over it unless you want to address tariffs and nafta, etc.. We need the jobs that are created here to build out of this recession.

remember the transcontinental railroad? You would not have built that? Probably was just a ridiculous notion, let's ship around the horn! Shouldn't have built the panama canal either, right? employed too many of the wrong kind, according to you!

Surprised you can use the internet without choking on the government waste and bureaucracy that built it (arpa, darpa, etc...)


Posted by magneticfields, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm

There will still be magneticfield along electrified caltrain route.Palo alto will have a large portion of residents being exposed to it.


Posted by coach e, a resident of Southgate
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I knew we could rely on Joe Simitian to sign onto an excellent alternative to the HSR plan. Well done to the local representatives!


Posted by Tracy, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:37 pm

This is the best news yet for CalTrain and HSR. Perhaps our elected officials are reasonable after all. We could get a better Peninsula system and a HSR that might be more cost effective.


Posted by Peter, a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

On the surface, this sounds like a reasonable and sensible solution to the HSR and Caltrain conundrum. All railroad crossing would still need to be grade separated for the safety of all involved, but with HSR and Caltrain using the same tracks though the Peninsula, there would be less need for miles of elevated track (though I'm sure some would probably still be required).


Posted by Frank, a resident of Ventura
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I agree this approach is just common sense.

We should have grad separated tracks - HSR or no HSR and if HSR has to slow to 79 mph to use existing Caltrain tracks (until grade separation, it has to). But we should hold one hostage to the other when they can be done independently.

>underground - you said:
> For all account San Jose is not a real city .... I am not saying SJ is a bad city. SJ has not much of a cultural/downtown life apart for every once while to bring the kids to the Tech Museum.

Truly, you have not been to downtown San Jose lately. There is a vibrant night life, many wonderful restaurants, Theaters (yes plural!), and the train station there is quite the regional transit hub. Try to get down there for dinner and a show - it is much more pleasant that you think.

But this is besides the point.


Posted by underground is out of touch, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Commenter "underground" is wildly out of touch with their comments.

Prior to the vote for high speed rail the public wasn't told how the high speed rail would be engineered. Further, the public wasn't told that the high speed rail management team couldn't deliver the project on time and on budget. Lastly, most northern California citizens didn't realize that the plan would entail carving up and refacing the peninsula.

No one wants to tear up this beautiful place when a clear alternative exists. The article clearly outlines these points.


Posted by clarification?, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm

If this is so simple, why wasn't it initially proposed,since we already have Caltrain? So this means anyone from SF & down the peninsula could get on at any existing Caltrain station (assuming all would be kept), travel down to San Jose on what kind of schedule? and then would need to transfer to the "real" high speed train? Is there room to have this - wouldn't it necessitate a big SJ station-


Posted by Mojo, a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm

This is horrible news. A half hearted attempt to build HSR will only result in fewer riders using the system. California is ready for high speed rail.

Sadly our national leaders have their priorities all mucked up. They prefer to send 2 trillion dollars to places like Afgan-is-spendistan and Iraq-a-huge-bill while at the same time spending billions of dollars providing private security to countries like South Korea. Why not build High Speed Rail infrastructure here AND build schools and colleges HERE instead of abroad.


Posted by long-time resident, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Thank you, thank you!! Gordon, Eshoo, and Simitian are the voice of intelligence and reason here -- this is a statement cognizant of their districts, economic realities, and how to do HSR the RIGHT way, in an integrated transit system.

Bravo!


Posted by Stupid suggestion, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Bad idea. HSR will be successful only if it includes desirable, convenient routes, and that must include going all the way to SF. Otherwise, we might as well just not build it. It will be a wasted effort. Having to make a connection and change trains defeats the purpose of High Speed.


Posted by Andrew, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Bad idea. Duplicate systems exist elsewhere. For example the NE corridor (MARC trains and Amtrak heading into DC's Union Station). Also, what major train system stops short of a major city and ferries its passengers onto another train? HSR's terminus should be San Francisco.


Posted by Christine, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I agree with this common sense approach and hope it will prevail.


Posted by Project Thor sm, a resident of Woodside
on Apr 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm

"HSR's terminus should be San Francisco."

Amen, brother.

And BART should ring the whole freakin' Bay!!!!

Do it right. Do it now. That's the American way. Why do these haters think American is the land of "No, can't do it, not us!"?

A recession is the best time to do it. Again, that's the American way. Proven in the great depression. Watch as other countries take the austerity tactic and struggle with their unemployment and continued recession for years longer than "America, the Builder"!


Posted by christine, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I mean that I agree with Eshoo, Simitian and Gordon (not with the comment preceding mine)


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Scrap HSR and direct that money to regional rail within higher density urban areas.


Posted by Daily Caltrain Rider, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Caltrain is an ecological and financial disaster. Even a fully loaded train burns more fuel than all those passengers in solo automobiles, and most of the passengers drove to the station anyway. Caltrain is a blight on the Peninsula landscape and snarls traffic all along its route. And - as this incident reminds us - it's unreliable: failure anywhere along the line shuts down the whole system, sometimes for hours.

The subsidies that Caltrain absorbs come close to $50 per person per ride - though these subsidies are offset a little by the $300 criminal citations handed out for inadvertent and minor ticket problems. Caltrain loses money because its services are worth only a tiny fraction of what the market will bear. It takes people from where they aren't to where they don't want to go, when they don't want to travel.

The worst thing about Caltrain is that this taxpayer-subsidized white elephant and the regulations that protect it discourage entrepreneurs from developing efficient, modern systems.

We deserve 21st century transportation technology, not 18th century. Shut down Caltrain and repeal the protectionist laws. Entrepreneurs would quickly step in with efficient inter-city cabs, jitneys, and buses directed by GPS-informed real-time routing. Rides would be requested from cellphones, with dynamic real-time pricing depending on privacy, stops, distance, etc. If Google moves its employees that way, why can't we all enjoy the same benefits? uber.com is a starting point for tomorrow's transportation system.


Posted by Thetruth, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm

This will only work if the high speed trains travel all the way to SanFrancisco for a one seat ride and have a single stop in PA or Redwood City..NO change of trains thats stupid


Posted by Steve, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Daily Caltrain Rider:

The annual budget is about $100 million. The weekday boardings are about 40,000. It costs about $275,000 to operate the system each day, every day. A little more during the week, a little less on weekends. If the average passenger paid $10, the system would nearly break even, so I cannot get to your $50 subsidy.

A source for your energy assumptions would also be helpful. Granted, diesel is not as clean as we would like, but my money is on the train for using less fuel than all those passengers driving alone. MTC and the air quality district have pretty good figures on this stuff.


Posted by Carl, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm

"If high-speed rail isn't "done right," Simitian said, it simply won't get done at all."

There is no way to do it right. That possibility never existed. Such a project does pencil economically or environmentally. It is a loser.

Now we have politicians who initially voted in favor of the $10B bond issue, saying that they didn't know what any regualr voter could figure out. If this was not so sad and pathetic, it would be funny.

Reject this turkey, and refuse to spend the bond money (if the bonds can even be sold). Put a stake through its heart, and move on.


Posted by pa resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm

That's an interesting thought. HSR would be great but we don't really NEED it. On the other hand, we do really badly need a more cohesive transportation SYSTEM in this area.

I say Amen to the sensible things our representatives have said -- and that they should ignore the misleading statements by people who are almost certainly out-of-towners (with probably conflicts of interest) who always show up on these HSR threads.

I completely agree with Senator Simitian. If HSF isn't done right, it shouldn't get done at all. Either way, I hope our LOCAL transit SYSTEM gets improvements, this is, after all, a densely populated area and we could really use a more cohesive system. That's the problem with these proponents of HSR, they see California as nothing but two big cities and a route for their train project in between. (Or maybe it's just someone in SF jealous of SJ and Silicon Valley?) Good thing we have elected officials to get the big picture!!


Posted by Whats a billion?, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Folks,
I am dire need of a billion dollars. Please help me. I know a billion does not mean much to you.
Please HELP!


Posted by Billion Trillion, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Please keep in mind the construction of Burj-Khalifa cost $1.3 Billion.

We don't seem to think anything about a Billion here in US.

No wonder our GDP is so high! However the real services for the amount spent is sooo low. Someday the world is going to wake up and slash us.



Posted by ODB, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Standard and Poor's has said it may lower the credit rating of the United States, something that would have serious implications for the U.S. economy if it happens. Given the country's current level of indebtedness, how can anyone seriously be considering a relative luxury such as high-speed rail? We can't afford it at the federal level and we can't afford it at the state level. There are already plenty of ways to go between L.A. and S.F. so there is no urgent need for HSR. If HSR is not built, no one will be the least bit inconvenienced.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. The question is not whether we have the money, but is it an investment that will pay dividends to our society or not?


Posted by think, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:10 pm

In 2006, we spent as a nation $450 billion on healthcare bureaucracy, mostly because of private for-profit insurance. (It's more now.) That's 50% MORE than ALL net expenditures on actual CARE in the Medicare program that year. Most of that bureaucracy exists in service of insurers CONTROL to extract the maximum profit from as expensive a system as the rest of us will bear (they work on percentage of the healthcare economy, it's a myth that they have an incentive to reduce overall cost). We continue to do this for the luxury ideology over pragmatism. It also makes all healthcare more expensive by a huge percentage (including to the Medicare program).

So why quibble about a billion here or there? It's in the noise. Cut the ideological luxuries if we really want to save money AND invest in our society at the same time.


Posted by Project Thor sm, a resident of Woodside
on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Uh-oh.

Someone's gettin' all big picture-y and stuff!

"Sometimes you have to spend money to make money." & "In 2006, we spent as a nation $450 billion on healthcare bureaucracy, mostly because of private for-profit insurance."

Sorry, doesn't work on the nimbys or the crowd that chants "No, no, no we can't, can't do it, not us!"


Posted by Jim H., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:39 pm

HSR is almost outdated as it is.

Web Link

Let's put the money towards something REALLY useful.


Posted by ODB, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Anyone who has been following HSR for any length of time knows that it's not going to cost just "a billion here or there". We're talking about a system which will cost tens of billions to build (the estimates keep going up) to serve a relatively small number of Californians travelling between Anaheim, S.F. and points in between. Add in the cost overruns which inevitably occur with a project such as this, plus the subsidy-in-perpetuity if the dubious ridership projections don't materialize, plus the interest on the bonds and other loans to finance construction, etc. There will be a cost to localities such as Palo Alto to build depots and parking structures and rearrange their traffic patterns around HSR. The hardware will likely be manufactured in Asia. Again, there are plenty of ways to make the trip which have been in place for decades and which don't drain the state financially. California already has the lowest credit rating of all 50 states, and I'm not aware of any private investor who has shown the least bit of interest in the project.


Posted by think, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:52 pm

@Project
You talkin' 'bout "hair-shirt" economics?

I'm glad to see our representatives are getting the big picture about what is best for our region. I'm not sure HSR is really necessary in California, either, but if we're going to do it, they've outlined about as smart a way to do it as possible.



Posted by Project Thor sm, a resident of Woodside
on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:57 pm

odb:

"There will be a cost to localities such as Palo Alto to build depots and parking structures and rearrange their traffic patterns around HSR."

How so, if it's such a disaster as you paint? Unless you think folks might actually want to USE it. Omigosh!


Posted by Martin, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 18, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Kudos to Simitian, Eshoo, Gordon, Caltrain, and "potentially" CHSRA, for working together and trying to create a solution that does not destroy our neighborhoods.

Finally, some common sense in the game.


Posted by ODB, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Project Thor sm:

You clearly haven't been following HSR developments. Get back to us after you've studied up on the matter.


Posted by magneticfields, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2011 at 9:31 pm

When i was visiting Shanghai,they have this huge network of high-speed rail,can get to every major city outside Shanghai,and it is always full of people taking ride on it,but from what I've heard the high-speed(maglev train) railways always are operated under deficit.


Posted by milton, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm

While this may be an interesting proposal from Simitian, Gordon, and Eshoo, I think it's little more than politicians desperate to grab a handful of misguided federal dollars, and Caltrains continued desperation for cash to keep itself alive. I'm not sure which was a sadder scene to behold.

All the babble at this news conference of 'blending' caltrain and hsr, no additional tracks, electrifying caltrain, and hsr 'done right', to me, simply glossed over some important points. I agree that doubling the tracks on the peninsula is at best a waste of $$, and having 2 of them aerial tracks, unthinkable. As far as the blending comment, I guess the speakers on the platform today don't know, or forgot, that in the 80's or 90's caltrain did a pretty decent job of investigating electrification, and how it would affect ride times between SJ and SF. I have not looked at those reports in a while, but I recall the transit time was reduced from an hour or so to 35 or 40 minutes, simply from the greater acceleration and deceleration afforded by the EMU rail cars they wanted to deploy on the tracks. Considering this is roughly the transit time hsr planned to make the SF to SJ run, it would appear that hsr would be the redundant train system on the peninsula. The other significant omission in the news conference was a complete lack of the mentioning of grade separations. Without grade separations, caltrain and hsr rumbling up and down the peninsula will be a conflagration of traffic, train horns and gate bells. Finally, if hsr blends with caltrain, I doubt that caltrain can see much farther than their noses to realize that the hsr trains will essentially become the baby bullet service (taking the ticket revenues with it), and caltrain will be the local commuter train, once again limping about, hat in hand, wondering how they will give them selves another raise for another job well done.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2011 at 6:22 am

Great (sarcastically) - we still get trains moving at high speeds 125mph with high noise levels. Unless every single crossing is eliminated we will be contending with continuous ear piercing train horns.

If the crossings are eliminated untold businesses and homes will still be lost to grade separations and there will be years of dirt, construction noise and unbelievable traffic disruption. Numerous crossings will be eliminated thus producing major traffic forever on the streets where under/overpasses are made.

And we still get thirty plus foot power poles and lines stretching forever.

Don't forget folks - Gordon, Eshoo and Simitian love their jobs and they love the union support they get - that's the only reason they're trying for an alternative plan - union jobs. I'm a lifelong Democrat, but in this case the Dems are screwing us to get their votes.

Typical politicians wasting tax money on a boondoggle that's been shown to be useless with plenty of false figures to get our vote.

Spend the money on our schools and colleges - that will go much further in producing permanent jobs.


Posted by Out of date, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2011 at 7:09 am

Wait a moment folks, you are assuming a lot here. This is the slow demise of CalTrains to be replaced with HSR, which ultimately will mean huge increases in train fares. A new electrified system will mean laying new rails, new rolling stock etc., all very expensive which will have to be paid for.

Due to the ultimate cost of HSR, what Simitian & Co. are proposing may be the beginning of the end of HSR. What does San Francisco think of this idea anyway? Their political power is greater than that of the Peninsula.

California cannot borrow unilaterally from a foreign country i.e. China or Germany, unless the U.S. Constitution is amended. However, the Federal government can borrow for us, but will they?


Posted by Thomas Paine IV, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:46 am

I agree with Anna Eshoo that we need to lead the world by building high speed rail "done right" here in California. The cost is very reasonable, only $600 million per year for the next 30 years out of the state general fund to pay for the bonds. Cities like Palo Alto should just toughen up and do what is needed. I suggest closing Paly and leasing the land to expand Town and Country. Then we could build a high rise class room building at Gunn to replace Paly facilities.


Posted by Evan Snyder, a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:51 am

Our representatives are sending a terrbly confused message. On the one hand are cited a few of many reports that question the efficacy of the entire project. On the other hand, the CAHSRA is urged to be sensitive to local concerns as the system is defined and implemented.

As a minimum, if our representatives' suggestions are heeded, I suspect we will no longer meet the letter/spirit of the 2008 Bond Act and therefore ought to go back to the ballot box.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 19, 2011 at 9:57 am

Project Thor sm: Do some research - you'll find that HSR has told the cities considered for a stop that they (the cities) must build the stations, buy the land and build the garages and do any road improvements as required. The cities would also be on the hook for maintenance and long-term improvements and updates. No money from HSR at all.

Both Palo Alto and Stanford have already said "no".


Posted by Robert, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2011 at 10:16 am

Hooray, the same people who left my generation with the infrastructure for a state half our size are now actively trying to stop a project neccesary to California's economy on the basis of "aesthetics". I wonder what the anti hsr Palo Alto residents' plan is for expanding our airports when they hit capacity, or are they going to bury their heads in the sand like they did in the 70s, and pretend like the population or economy of California is going to stay the same forever?


Posted by Project Thor sm, a resident of Woodside
on Apr 19, 2011 at 10:25 am

CPC:

thanks. The point to odb was, if they don't want it and said "no" then he needs to take it off his laundry list.

That said, a more progressive city will take the stop and benefits, and negotiate a deal that works with public/private.

Build it. Infrastructure is what made America great last century. Let's get to work on this one.

I think it's great for Stanford. Too bad. Their listening to former WB types like grindley is a mistake. Nice guy and all, but WB types aren't exactly known for decisions that best serve the public.


Posted by Allen Edwards, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:10 am

If you think that HSR should go to SF because SJ is not a real city or some such garbage consider that 3x as many people live in SC and SM counties as live in SF. Having HSR connect to an improved CalTrain should do a better job of getting people to where they live than terminating them in SF.

In addition, having HSR compete with CalTrain would certainly kill CalTrain as they are hanging on by a thread even now. Increasing their ridership be being part of HSR would straighten them.

And if you say who needs CalTrain because you drive, it has been said that 101 would be total gridlock with all the CalTrain rider taking their cars.


Posted by ODB, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

Project Thor sm: In order for a city to get an HSR stop, wherever it may be, it will have to pony up for a huge parking structure with the entire expense to be borne by that city, not by HSR. These costs do not show up in the construction estimates for HSR but do need to be taken into account. Somebody somewhere will have to pay for them. For someone living in Woodside as you do, this is not a concern because HSR will not pass through Woodside. Do you understand now or do you need it explained to you further?


Posted by Project Thor sm, a resident of Woodside
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm

obd: "Do you understand now or do you need it explained to you further?"

Oh, please, oh, please, oh puhleeeeeeze, help me with your condescending, I mean superior, intellect!

You guys speak against your own points: you said PA said no, so why are you whining that PA needs investment in structure? That was my question, and good lawdy, did it strike a nerve!

Allen says HSR will compete with Caltrain, yet then others claim it will only have one stop on the peninsula. At least I get his concerns and points, and frankly, don't disagree much, though he was addressing another poster.

obd: Here's another helpful tip: highlighting that someone may not live close enough to understand, can be shortened to an acronym: nimby. You may have heard of it before.

have a great day!

Build, build, build! As Rick S says: let's make America America again.


Posted by magneticfield, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm

It is unfair for palo altons to support people who are living in central valley to ride this hsr and arrive in palo alto station which is supported by local palo alto tax payers,if so everyone should buy a mansion there and ride it to palo alto to work.


Posted by magneticfield, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm

If the hsr is up and running,the whole bay area housing bubble(woodside antherton palo alto burlingame,los altos...) will burst again.


Posted by Mark Modalt, a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm

@magneticfield - you forget that they will have paid for their own station and parking lot. It's even more unfair to have somebody in Santa Cruz or Eureka have to pay for a tunnel or ditch because somebody in Palo Alto or Menlo Park might have their feelings hurt. I live about 50 miles from the nearest planned station, but I still support it, as I know that even that far away, HSR will have benifits both direct and indirect to me and the state.

Joe and Anna might be onto something, but maybe we're looking at this the worng way. Having caltrain doing HSR coverage would be like the fly eating the elephant. Maybe it makes more sense to do it the other way round.

CAHSR is legally mandated to run SF - LA in 2:40. Only real way to do that is a non stop. Other trains will pick up at the other stations. The easy fix is to ditch caltrain and just have a number of HSR trains that start in SF and terminate in SJ or Gilroy?


Posted by magneticfield, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm

@Mark

So what we get, we palo altons only will get magneticfields that harm us everyday.


Posted by Mark Modalt, a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm

@magneticfield - Wait, what? Your first post led me to believe that your main fear was having that poor CV trash soiling your town.

You do realize that caltrain wants to electricfy with or without HSR? I'll have to change my point. Instead of digging a trench, we can save a boatload of money and just wrap every house in Palo Alto in tinfoil. Problem solved.


Posted by magneticfield, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm

@Mark

Let me do it to your house first and send it to central valley.


Posted by magneticfields, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm

@Mark

Normally, I will charge a fee,since you are so good at it,now let's waive the fee.


Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Our elected reps seem to have only now discovered that HSR funding might improve Caltrain, and the story also presents this as news.

Yet for HSR to support Caltrain "electrification, positive train controls and new rolling stock" has been in Caltrain/HSR public plans for years! Below is information circulated *early 2009* by an engineer I know who studies rail systems and has attended JPB (Caltrain board) meetings for many years. This summarizes publicly available information from Caltrain and HSR. Some of it appeared previously in a Feb. 6, 2009 _MV Voice_ letter.


1. 25 kV overhead catenary electrification for HSR is the same method planned for years anyway to electrify Caltrain. This technology is well established in Europe, Japan, and Northeastern US

2. Caltrain and HSR (separate programs with different charters) have overlapping interests. Sharing existing Caltrain corridor is efficient and minimum-impact (i. e, minimizes eminent-domain acquisitions) from HSR's perspective. And the easiest, best-understood, shovel-ready construction expenditures for HSR consist of Caltrain improvements serving both systems. A likely early expenditure of HSR funds would fill the current funding gap for Caltrain's long-planned electrification, benefitting Caltrain users even years before a full-scale HSR system operates.

3. Caltrain has spearheaded regulatory updates both for Caltrain's improvements (electrification etc.) and for HSR. Caltrain has become a lead agency for modernizing Federal rail standards

4. HSR's goal of "fully access controlled and grade-separated" tracks spurs many of the local concerns. But you don't fundamentally even need to resolve those questions until after basic HSR service is demonstrated. That's because HSR trains don't _fundamentally_ need to traverse existing crossings any faster than current trains do. They could begin operation even with today's Caltrain tracks, speed limits, and crossing protocols (at some cost in HSR trip time). Track and crossing improvements then raise HSR capacity (how many trains can run daily) and speed. One improvement is to increase Caltrain's current 4-track segments (HSR's eventual goal has always been to expand the rest of Caltrain's line to 4 tracks). Another is to grade-separate remaining crossings (discussed for years already for Caltrain safety -- without funding prospects, before HSR).

Caltrain uses its two existing four-mile sections of 4-track line (Brisbane, Sunnyvale) for Baby Bullets to pass local trains. If these sections increase in length to the south on both sections, the existing tracks will have capacity for perhaps a dozen or so HSR trains daily (besides full Caltrain service). In the long term, for a higher frequency of HSR trains, and desiring the most safety and scheduling flexibility, it would be ideal to have the entire route from San Francisco to San Jose with four tracks and fully grade separated. However, that may not need to happen for 15 or 20 years at the earliest.


Posted by magnetfield, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm

It is very wrong from the beginning that trains(any kind) running through high density areas,even now the developing less advanced countries would not want to do that,they would put it underground, stations are on the outskirt of the city..


Posted by Kevin, a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Magnetfield:

I think your argument would work if Caltrain had been shoehorned into the Peninsula as we now know it. But high-density areas on the Peninsula didn't exist when the San Francisco & San Jose Railroad (Caltrain's earliest ancestor) was built in 1863-64. Indeed, they exist BECAUSE of the railroad.

Building underground is a blame expensive proposition and should, IMHO, be undertaken only in ultra-high-density areas (e.g. Manhattan).


Posted by ODB, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2011 at 6:55 pm

<< why are you whining that PA needs investment in structure? >>

That's not what I said. What I said was:

<< In order for a city to get an HSR stop, wherever it may be >>

See the last four words there? Whether it's Palo Alto, Redwood City, Mountain View, the City of Orange, Anaheim, wherever, that city will have to build a parking structure at its own expense, a cost which does not show up in the HSR construction estimates. It's really not a difficult concept to understand.


Posted by YIMBY, a resident of University South
on Apr 19, 2011 at 7:35 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

@ howard, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2011 at 11:38 am, who noted:

"At minimum, this will require grade separation at all intersections. Otherwise traffic will be tied up because of the increased frequency of trains. Not to mention tragic deaths caused by failure to separate the grade."

The Weekly article doesn't touch on that aspect of this 'blended' approach. The Daily Post does. Under 'key points' on pg. 1: "Build bridges to eliminate crossings where trains and cars are at same level". Even describes the grade crossing issue in second paragraph.

Page 6 has a sidebar: CROSSINGS DILEMMA, listing all at-grade crossings in Burl', SM, RWC, Ath', MP, PA, MV, stating:
"Some crossings will get bridges either above or below the tracks; other crossings will simply be shut off...."

Howard - your point is an important one as I believe it is critical to funding and alignment - thanks for being the first to post!


Posted by magneticfield, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2011 at 7:49 pm

And also the labor and maintenance cost, parking structure or cost of buying land to build parking space are all very expensive here, way way more expansive than in the valley,it is unfair to our bay area locals who do not use it often.


Posted by MJP-College, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 20, 2011 at 9:01 am

Those who are concerned about noise of trains traveling past there properties at 120 mph are mistakenly comparing their experience of a diesel powered old design, that clangs along.

A new electric powered engine with carefully designed wheels to reduce noise are amazingly quite. One only has to visit Switzerland and experience the whisper of their new generation of trains that have been in service for more than tens years.


Posted by Project Thor sm, a resident of Woodside
on Apr 20, 2011 at 10:05 am

odb: you: "That's not what I said. What I said was: << In order for a city to get an HSR stop, wherever it may be >>"

you at Apr 18, 2011 at 8:44 pm
"There will be a cost to localities such as Palo Alto to build depots and parking structures and rearrange their traffic patterns around HSR"

All I posted was: if PA already said no, remove that from your laundry list of "no, we can't, nope, no building America for the future, nope" list.

- - - - -

Apart from that: San Carlos and Belmont long ago ignored the Nimbys and raised the tracks, took a couple years, but is GREAT. No bells, no whistles at every crossing, no waiting at crossing gates.

Progressive planning. And it paid off handsomely for anyone who lives up there, or drives up there.

Build, build, build! As Ricky Santorum says: let's make America America again.


Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2011 at 11:07 am

MJP-College, the misconception you cited is sadly just one of many inaccuracies that people have assumed (or in some notable cases, promoted), often contradicting very basic background facts long available from HSRA and Caltrain.

Typical was a letter circulated early 2009 by Mary Brodbeck of Palo Alto: 220 MPH on existing Caltrain tracks, six-track line with "large towers," the specter of eminent domain. "As a community, we need to make our voice known." It might be even more helpful to that community if its members informed themselves of at least basic information before broadcasting such comments. (An independent engineer pointed out, via an _MV Voice_ letter, Broadbeck's very basic errors; see "The truth about high-speed rail" under link below.)

Web Link

CA high-speed rail blog also has some detailed analysis of the recent politicians' remarks. Tell your neighbors:

Web Link


Posted by JoAnn, a resident of Ventura
on Apr 20, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Kevin: "Building underground is a blame expensive proposition and should, IMHO, be undertaken only in ultra-high-density areas (e.g. Manhattan)."

The Peninsula will have the density of Manhattan by the time ABAG gets through with us. Even our pokey old Caltrain needs to be moved above or below ground, and this HSR beast certainly is unsafe at street level. If you think 20 seconds isn't enough to avoid being hit by a train, try escaping one moving 2-3 times as fast.

Changing trains in San Jose while the HSR goes on to Sacramento (and beyond? -- it should go all the way to Vancouver BC eventually) sounds reasonable. Sorry to inconvenience anyone, but there's all these, you know, people living in your way, and we're not going away.

And what's wrong with looking for local jobs in this project? We're not all going to be able to make a living writing apps for ipods.


Posted by magneticfield, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Guys,do not forget those magneticfields.25000 volt 24/7 hanging around ,can anyone tell me how far will it cover and how much damage can it do to our health.


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2011 at 7:57 am

Volts do not make magnetic fields; current makes magnetic fields. With two conductors and balanced current the fields are confined to the vicinity of the wires. As for damage to your health, I expect it to be zero, but I also don't expect you to believe me when I say that.


Posted by magneticfield, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2011 at 8:20 am

Is it true that the higher the volts the stronger the current.Just asking.


Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2011 at 9:53 am

Actually magneticfield, it's the opposite, for a given delivered power. A higher voltage requires proportionately lower current (because the two multiplied together make the power).

That's a basic reason why long-distance wholesale power transmission employs the highest voltages that the hardware will allow. Higher voltage -> lower current -> lower resistive power loss in the transmission lines. Much lower loss, in fact, because at a given line resistance, the power wasted in heating that resistance goes as the _square_ of the current. Doubling the voltage used can halve the line current, but at the same time drop resistive power loss in the lines by a factor of 4.

Also as a reminder of something public for years, the 25kV overhead catenary electrification for HSR is the same as long been planned independently for Caltrain's electrification -- it is standard modern electric-rail power delivery, used extensively in other countries and in parts of the US.


Posted by magneticfield, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2011 at 10:53 am

Thank you for the explaination. Do people live at the street as closer to this thing as alma street in other country that uses this technology?


Posted by Malcolm, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Yes, yes, yes!

Peninsula rail service should be planned and built in complete conjunction with HSR. There is no need for us to have two separate sets of tracks going up the peninsula, serving the same kind of traffic. Caltrain will need new engines when they electrify. Might as well make the whole system compatible with HSR.

Someday, there might be enough traffic to warrant two completely separate sets of tracks and stations. But not now. First, we should build the combined system.

At some point the trains should be separated from pedestrians and traffic. But that's secondary to getting Caltrain and HSR to share tracks.


Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm

magneticfield: (1) This point is irrelevant to HSR, as you know if you read my earlier detailed posting, because regardless, Caltrain has long PUBLICLY planned to electrify with the same system anyway, but lacked sources for about a third of the required funding. (2) Offhand, I'd guess that residents near Alma have gotten greater magnetic fields of the same type already, for decades, from existing neighborhood power lines. (3) If anyone seeks factual-sounding information to buttress an existing anxiety about something they don't understand (a frequent need nowadays), they don't require my help. (Isn't that what Google is for? ;-)


Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I forgot to mention: The comparison has never been, anyway, future Peninsula electric rail vs. nothing, or even future electric rail vs. existing neighborhood heavy-current electrical distribution.

The real comparison is between future modern electrified trains (which during deceleration periods can also recover a lot of the energy used to accelerate) and the obsolete Diesel-burning Caltrain locomotives now running along Alma (which also weigh around twice as much as modern replacements, increasing their Diesel consumption) PLUS thousands of cars currently running along Alma (around 4-5 per second at four lanes averaging 35 MPH with reasonably spaced cars). All of the locomotive exhaust, and probably some of the commute car exhaust, would disappear from the neighborhood, and the electric trains would use much less total energy (from whatever point originally generates it from fossil fuel).


Posted by Sam, a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2011 at 10:33 pm

As long as the residents of San Francisco, San Mateo County, and Santa Clara County foot the entire bill let them do what they want. Just don't use federal and state funds provided by the rest of us.


Posted by magneticfield, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2011 at 10:31 am

Following is the article from yahoo:
BEIJING – China is slowing down its bullet trains following complaints the showcase system is dangerously fast and too expensive.

High-speed rail is a national prestige project aimed at showing off China's technological prowess and rising wealth while linking together its far-flung regions. That makes any decision to scale it back politically sensitive.

The fastest routes will be cut from 350 kph (220 mph) to 300 kph (190 mph) as of July 1, railway minister Sheng Guangzu told the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily. Sheng was appointed in February after his predecessor was fired amid a graft probe.

"This will offer more safety," Sheng said. "At the same time, this will allow more variation in ticket prices based on market principles."

The minister gave no indication whether Beijing might scale back ambitious expansion plans that call for adding thousands of miles (kilometers) of high-speed routes.

Bullet trains are one of a series of areas from clean energy to mobile phones where communist leaders want to transform China into a creator of technology and evolve beyond its status as a low-cost factory.

The former railway minister, Liu Zhijun, was the public face of high-speed rail plans and his firing prompted suggestions they might lose momentum. News reports media say accusations against Liu include kickbacks, bribes, illegal contracts and sexual liaisons.

The government signaled a possible shift in attitude when state media began airing complaints early this year. The Global Times newspaper, published by People's Daily, called bullet trains "incredibly risky" and said the "railway frenzy" was driven by politics rather than market needs.

China's trains are based on Japanese, French and German technology but its manufacturers are trying to sell to Latin America and the Middle East. That has prompted complaints Beijing is violating the spirit of licenses with foreign providers by reselling technology that was meant to be used only in China.

A senior railway official said last year Chinese manufacturers might compete for contracts to build a high-speed line in California.

In China, engineers have warned the system's top speed is too fast, while others say the multibillion-dollar price tag is too high for a country where millions of families still live in poverty.

"They should not be building so much high-speed rail," said Zhao Jian, a railway expert at Beijing Jiaotong University. "But since the projects have been completed already, it is a good choice to lower the speed."

China has the world's biggest train network, with 56,000 miles (91,000 kilometers) of passenger rail and 3.2 million employees. But trains are overloaded with passengers and cargo, and critics say the money would be better spent expanding cheaper, slower routes.

Government plans call for spending 700 billion yuan ($106 billion) on railway building this year. Officials say the high-speed network will grow to 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) of track by the end of this year and 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) by 2020.

A key project is a 215 billion yuan ($32.5 billion), 1,318-kilometre (824-mile) Beijing-Shanghai line that is due to open next year. Sheng's comments in the People's Daily gave no indication those plans might be altered.

The heavy spending on the Hexie Hao, or Harmony, bullet trains has prompted complaints Beijing is failing to meet the needs of its poor majority by investing in lower-cost regular service.

China overtook Japan last year as the world's second-biggest economy after the United States. But with 1.3 billion people, China barely places in the top 100 on the World Bank's list of countries by average income per person.

During the Lunar New Year holiday in February, working class travelers complained they couldn't afford high-speed tickets and regular trains were sold out. A migrant worker became an Internet sensation when he stripped to his underwear to protest outside a ticket office after he waited 14 hours in line but couldn't get tickets for his family.

"There should be more regular railways built," said Zhao. "If you are talking about a country as big as China, where the average train commute goes beyond 1,000 kilometers (600 miles), many of which are overnight trains, saving a few hours means nothing."

Construction costs have saddled China's railway operators with debt that industry analysts say ticket sales might not cover.

A 72-mile (115-kilometer) line linking Beijing with nearby Tianjin cost 21.5 billion yuan ($3.3 billion). Yet it is so short that the train hits its 350 kph (220 mph) cruising speed for only a few minutes before it slows for arrival.

The national audit office reported in March that 187 million yuan ($28 million) had been


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