With new plan, Caltrain prepares for ridership surge | May 3, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 3, 2019

With new plan, Caltrain prepares for ridership surge

Agency looks to add trains, take a more proactive role in 'grade separation' projects

by Gennady Sheyner

Facing persistent funding challenges, a growing ridership base and a patchwork of plans from Peninsula cities for redesigning rail crossings, Caltrain is advancing a new business plan to help it navigate the competing pressures.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

Comments

12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2019 at 7:49 am

I like what Bruins says and agree completely. I hope she is listened to by the Powers that Be.

I am very pleased Caltrain is becoming more proactive in these discussions as I feel they should be making the calls rather than the individual cities. However, I am disheartened that there is no mention of increasing the number of trains to Morgan Hill and Gilroy. This is where there is space for more housing and if there is an efficient, reliable commuter train service with more trains per day it will make a big dent on road traffic in Silicon Valley.


31 people like this
Posted by A 911 Owner In Support Of Caltrains
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 3, 2019 at 8:26 am

This is good news and I am hoping that more commuters will take Caltrains into San Francisco and San Jose.

This will ideally reduce traffic on the 101 & 280 and open up the freeways for those who still prefer to drive.

As a Porsche owner, nothing is more irritating than bumper to bumper traffic congestion and to be finally able to drive my car in the manner for which it was designed is a refreshing thought.


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2019 at 12:02 pm

If Caltrain is going to appeal to someone commuting up Lawrence Expressway to work, Caltrain needs to ramp up the number of people commuting from Morgan Hill and Gilroy to big companies with shuttle buses and etc. e.g. Cisco, Intel, Google, Facebook. Diverting significant numbers of commuters in the south SCC from US-101 and CA-85 is a lot more likely to sell than diverting commuters from San Mateo County.


17 people like this
Posted by A guy with three 911's sepe
a resident of Woodside
on May 3, 2019 at 1:04 pm

Invest in Caltrain and all mass transit in the area. Let us Porsche owners make up for our insecurities and speed on our way!


11 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 3, 2019 at 1:34 pm

"This is good news and I am hoping that more commuters will take Caltrains into San Francisco and San Jose."

These changes won't. It's all fantasy.

Still have the last mile problem on the peninsula. Not enough density of people in our suburbs to have the critical mass for Samtrans or VTA have good connections with the Caltrain stations.


16 people like this
Posted by A Suggestion For Caltrains
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2019 at 3:28 pm

To increase ridership offer a cocktail lounge and a smoking room for marijuana.

These are two things a car driver/commuter cannot do.


23 people like this
Posted by Tom D
a resident of Midtown
on May 3, 2019 at 4:32 pm

Another local paper has a story in its website saying Caltrain ridership has been falling every month since October. Maybe these projections of increased ridership are fantasy.


22 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Mountain View
on May 3, 2019 at 6:45 pm

Had to laugh out loud when the article mentioned 4 high speed trains per hour! Uncertain? After the money runs out the scam is finished.
The article is pure fantasy.


22 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2019 at 7:30 pm

The myopic bureaucrats running Caltrain/PCJPB are desperate to get a taxpayer funded cash infusion into this obsolete technology before voters begin to understand what self-driving vehicles will be capable of in the year 2040.

Passenger rail is just a 19th century self-driving technology that is unfortunately confined to a one-dimensional system of slippery steel rails.

Trying to solve modern transportation problems with passenger-rail is like trying to solve modern computing problems with a mechanical Babbage engine.


25 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 3, 2019 at 9:21 pm

Just smile and nod when these projections are mentioned. Remember that HSR was supposed to be running several trains per hour through Palo Alto by now. How did that one turn out?

The worst mistake Palo Alto can make is building infrastructure to handle pie-in-the-sky projections that will never come to be. If they come, we will build it. Until then, Palo Alto should not spend a dime on "grade separation".


23 people like this
Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2019 at 9:28 pm

@Ahem continues to misread the situation. Self driving cars will only ever be the capillaries of our transportation system... that is, if they come about sooner than flying cars.

We've been through this before: Caltrain solves a geometry problem. Geometry is orthogonal to technology, so there is no Silicon Valley technology that you can throw at this problem unless it solves the geometry problem first. Success is measured in people per square meter per second per joule.

Self-driving cars and Hyperloops are marvelous technologies but they don’t solve the basic geometry problem. They use too many square meters and seconds and joules to be of any use in dense areas where space and time and energy are at a premium. Moving single people in 2000 kg pods stuck in gridlocked traffic, even if chauffeured by a computer, is not a solution.

If you think of transportation as a circulatory system, BART, Caltrain and other mass transit will always be the aorta, and will only be enhanced (not displaced) by capillary technologies like the self-driving car.

Geometry cannot be solved with technology!


13 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 4, 2019 at 2:11 am

The article didn't mention that the "high growth" scenario would also require adding passing tracks through Palo Alto, making trench and tunnel fantasies a non-starter.

42 grade separations expected to cost $8.5bn to 11.1bn, that works out at $202m to $260m per crossing.
Palo Alto's tunnel plan would use ½ the budget for just 4 crossings.
An economy of scale can be achieved if every grade separation is implemented using a standard factory made bridge.


9 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 4, 2019 at 8:57 pm

Daily ridership on NYC subways is about 5.5 million. The subways were hotly contested when built, engineering marvels when completed, and now major facilitators of commerce, widely distributed housing and urban integration. It’s easy to live uptown and go downtown for dinner.

People are still talking about a long distance high speed rail solution that will cost over $150 billion if ever completed with so many unsolved local transit needs unmet.

Use the money to build a subway. Build it now and it will quickly pay for itself.


7 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 5, 2019 at 12:41 am

The mathematics of self-driving cars:

30,000 self-driving cars = 30,000 human-driven cars.

Same number of vehicles on the road.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 5, 2019 at 12:52 am

^ Nah. 30,000 human-driven cars need to find a place to park.
30,000 self-driving cars can just keep circling the block while we shop.


4 people like this
Posted by bob.smith
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2019 at 4:08 am

@George >>>> "Use the money to build a subway. Build it now and it will quickly pay for itself."<<<<

The NYC subway does not pay for itself, more than 50% of its operating budget comes from taxpayer subsidies, and that provides just enough to patch holes in a decaying system.

If you mean that a subway pays for itself in a "socialist" sense, then long distance high-speed-rail will also pay for itself in that way.


5 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 5, 2019 at 8:20 am

@bob.smith. True, fares don’t cover costs in the NYC subway. Tuition does not cover all costs for colleges either but in most cases the broad value derived from colleges are multiples of the costs. Taxpayer support for good local transportation is a good capitol investment.
The peninsula will either self-extinguish as the boom turns to people and companies moving elsewhere because of urban problems or it will choose to welcome it’s most certain urban destiny with serious investment in infrastructure and housing. Other cities have done this. The West coast has so little experience in big urban engineering and typically makes big mistakes. Other cities all over the world do these big projects enthused about the development they will bring.
The one missing ingredient in all of the proposed solutions is a well considered master plan. We should be building and taxing and incurring debt towards how a well designed bay area should look in ten and twenty years.


6 people like this
Posted by bob.smith
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2019 at 10:03 am

@George "The one missing ingredient in all of the proposed solutions is a well considered master plan."

There is a well-considered master plan: Web Link Caltrain electrification and HSR is part of a long term plan.
Getting people "enthused" about any master plan will be challenging if Palo Alto's enthusiasm for a simple grade separation is a guide.



11 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2019 at 11:40 am

@Clem,

The example of the Babbage engine and the microchip demonstrate technology can solve the "geometry" problem. By your own metrics (square meters and seconds and joules) the microchip is superior to the Babbage engine in every way.

The only missing ingredients are imagination and vision, but unfortunately the passenger-rail true-believers are blinded by dogma and faith. Sometime in the 1960s Passenger-rail went through a transformation from transportation technology to new-age religion.


10 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2019 at 12:26 pm

@Ahem,

Brilliant! Shrink humans down to the size of barbie dolls, a two lane road can be reconfigured as 20 lanes wide. Capacity problem solved!


8 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 5, 2019 at 5:52 pm

More vaporware from Caltrain:

"the maximum number of passengers on board the most packed train is expected to increase from the existing level of 3,900 riders to 8,700 riders in the 2040 "baseline" scenario"

Just like that, the ridership will more than quadruple. Here's how it works:

Magnetic fields from the newly-electrified route will suck passengers onto the trains. Those same magnetic fields will suck money out of the passengers' pockets into a Caltrain ticket machine which will issue the passenger a ticket. Beautiful.

What about HSR, you ask? The HSR trains will still run but won't carry any actual passengers. Instead they will carry the latest creation of Elon Musk called "Virtual Passengers". You can't see them but they take up seats on the HSR trains and add to the actual passenger count.

So you see, Caltrain has it all figured out.


8 people like this
Posted by PhilB
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on May 6, 2019 at 9:55 am

PhilB is a registered user.

@Ahem

Self driving cars still need highway lanes. max capacity of a highway lane is 2000 cars/hour, and that is with a lot of congestion. Maybe with self-driving cars, it might be 2500.

Do the math. How many more lanes would be needed on US 101 and I-280. How much landscape would have to be destroyed? How many houses and businesses would have to be taken by eminent domain to get the space for those additional lanes. Thinking that we can build more highway lanes, that is pure fantasy and escapism.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2019 at 10:30 am

@Ahem, @Maurice, et al:

Caltrain ridership appears to have been the highest ever in 2018 Web Link but, it won't be in 2019. There is plenty of evidence that the 2018 (and previous) fare increases have caused ridership to hit the ceiling. Which was actually predicted by "Friends of Caltrain" critics. Web Link

This is not surprising. About 25% of Caltrain riders are low-income (see above citation). Or were. The data suggest ridership dropped about 12% from the peak due to the fare increase. Oops. Ridership is still far higher than it was a decade ago, but, clearly, the recent fare increases were counterproductive.

IMO, Caltrain has generally done a good job with its capital and operating costs and budgets (plenty more at various places on the website Web Link) with a -glaring- exception: the first attempt at PTC (Positive Train Control) known as "CBOSS" was a costly mess.


4 people like this
Posted by Mighty
a resident of Green Acres
on May 6, 2019 at 10:55 am

More riders and more trains please.
Get the cars and their wasteful infrastructure out of out state.
Cars are outdated status symbols of a selfish population still living in the 50’s.
Time to move on and get rid of the POVs and cars = freedom mindset.
Mass transit is the future.
Trains and HSR are the future


1 person likes this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2019 at 2:54 pm

I haven't read Caltrain's Magna Carta yet.

With the advent of electric trains and the fare increase, do they plan to advertise at all? I am not aware of any current marketing strategy by Caltrain.


6 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 6, 2019 at 5:08 pm

@Mighty - Cars are still the prime movers for people living in California and will remain so for the next 40 years. I, for one, enjoy driving my clean POV to the places I need to go. If, and only if, the powers that be manage to construct a clean, reliable public transportation system that can get me within a couple of blocks of where I need to go, will I give up my car. PACC and wherever they get their cockamamie ideas that making it increasingly painful to drive will result in people not driving are just stupid and out-of-touch with reality. Thankfully we are removing those "thinkers" from the Council one by one.


9 people like this
Posted by Take The Love Train
a resident of College Terrace
on May 6, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Caltrains needs to make commuting a luxury experience in order to attract more riders.

Like a previous poster has mentioned, bar service + pot smoking rooms would attract more riders because one cannot do this while driving a car. Or rather shouldn't be doing so while driving.

Themed passenger cars would also add to the allure. Like a psychedelic 60's car, a turn of the century (1900) car, a rap/hip-hop car and perhaps even an Andy Warhol-inspired car would do the trick.

The highly-paid civil servants running the show must be boring individuals without any reasonable imagination.



10 people like this
Posted by Agree with Mighty
a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2019 at 10:09 pm

Cars require a continuous grid of asphalt with incredible infrastructure of power for lights and signage to keep the stupid drivers from running into each other. Then there are the millions of acres of asphalt and concrete dedicated to parking lots. Time to end the foolish lie that if a car is electric it is “clean” . Paving over 20% of the valley so you have the luxury of driving your POV to Molly Stones is not “clean”. It is dirty.
Time to get rid of cars people. They are over.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 7, 2019 at 6:11 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

What ever theories proposed for HSR have since taken a spin with a new governor who is smart enough to see through the professional spin which is costing the state huge amounts of money with no results. The train from Merced to Bakersfield will be diesel.
The end point transit center in the city of SF is falling apart with bad iron, bad cement on the top park, and overall failing electrical systems for running the current fleet of SF city transport which have caused the head of the travel system to be fired for incompetence. And we are now getting tv commercials for saving electricity - work and live in the dark. So all of the components which are suppose to support the new technology are falling apart due to incompetence and poor application of technology.

So much could have been saved if the HSR was proposed on the I-5 interstate right of way - but that is no fun because the state already owns that land. One of the goals here was to take privately owned land by eminent domain at a low property tax value then lease it back for big bucks. A financial scheme that has gone off the rails - so to speak.

While it is fun to tout new technology reality says that the knowledge base to actually make it all work is not there. What does work is the train running on diesel now which can be supplemented with new AMTRAK engines that run like a Prius. I am very concerned that an electrical system - which requires electricity - is somehow in jeopardy based on what we know right now about existing systems and the ability to keep them working. California does have it's problems, and flooding, fire and electricity is one of them. Unresolved issues with PG&E need to be considered here, as well as existing budget. Reading in the paper today the rest stops on I-5 and I-80 are closed due to lack of funding to resolve maintenance issues - Mr. Roadshow column. Budget shortfalls have to be considered in the overall planning. We have a train that actually works and will keep on working - that is so super.


2 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 7, 2019 at 12:55 pm

"The end point transit center in the city of SF is falling apart with bad iron, bad cement on the top park, and overall failing electrical systems for running the current fleet of SF city transport"

What makes anyone think Caltrain electrification or Palo Alto grade separation will be any different?

HSR calls for a 13.5-mile tunnel through Pacheco Pass. It will travel through the San Andreas fault, one of the world's major earthquake faults.

Good luck.


2 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on May 7, 2019 at 1:27 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

@Resident 1 Adobe:

The HSR idea of the SR 99 corridor is so residents of the Central Valley (worst air quality in CA) can get out of their cars, efficiently riding not only to the SF Bay Area and LA Area, but back and forth as well. If they all have to drive west to I-5, their AQ does not improve. Even with an I-5 HSR right of way, the route still needs to cross the San Andreas twice. Both are hard rock tunnels, much more common than tunneling under Palo Alto would be.


8 people like this
Posted by Reduce Traffic Gridlock
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Create a new CA law where people are required to use mass transit a certain % of the time.

Something like maybe 75% car usage + 25% riding a bus or train...or bike.

Ration transportation means and cite the abusers.


1 person likes this
Posted by bob
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2019 at 3:31 pm

The US is terrible at building high-speed rail — here’s why: Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2019 at 4:14 pm

@Maurice ["HSR calls for a 13.5-mile tunnel through Pacheco Pass. It will travel through the San Andreas fault, one of the world's major earthquake faults."]

Nope, The Pacheco Pass tunnel goes nowhere near the San Andreas fault. It passes through the less active Ortigalita fault.
Deutsche Bahn has estimated that excavating a "Fault Chamber" in the tunnel adds $251 million, or 8% of the total cost: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 7, 2019 at 4:26 pm

"The Pacheco Pass tunnel goes nowhere near the San Andreas fault. It passes through the less active Ortigalita fault."

You know more about it than I do. In a few words, how is it possible to go through the Pacheco Pass without crossing the San Andreas fault?

I assume HSR would join Caltrain at some point and come up the peninsula under the "blended approach".


Like this comment
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2019 at 4:55 pm

"how is it possible to go through the Pacheco Pass without crossing the San Andreas fault?"
Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on May 7, 2019 at 5:14 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

@TBM:

Thanks for the finer geologic point. Your link clearly shows the San Andreas Fault Complex, but of course the main fault zone is west of Gilroy. Between Palmdale and LA, HSR does have to tunnel across the main San Andreas Fault Zone, so tunnel design and construction has added costs that are unavoidable regardless of Central Valley alignment (to my original main point).


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 7, 2019 at 6:22 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

If all of the tunneling was so easy then it would have already been done. Amtrak would have done it. The initial reason HSR was voted on and funded was to go from SF to LA in a specified amount of time. The I-5 corridor is reasonably close to all of the cities on 99 and since they have only a few stops then the people would be commuting to a stop traveling east to west vs south to north. The number of stops defined that most would be commuting to a stop location. In any case the train is for passengers only. The valley is a main corridor for trucking on 99 and 5. That is not going to stop. The air problem is rooted in the amount of land that is not under some agricultural production. The more reasonable approach is that used by the existing rail lines. In that manner tunneling would be shared cost with Amtrak. ACE does connect to San Jose through Oakland. What is actually achievable using existing right-of ways is the way to go.


2 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2019 at 12:25 am

@Old Steve ["Between Palmdale and LA, HSR does have to tunnel across the main San Andreas Fault Zone"]

Nope, one advantage of the Antelope Valley alignment is that it crosses the San Andreas fault at grade just south of Palmdale.

The I-5 Alignment was studied and was rejected in part because:
--------
The I-5 corridor remains more seismically active than the Antelope Valley corridor, paralleling the San Gabriel fault for 20 miles, and passing through the intersection of the Garlock and San Andreas faults. The topography of the Tehachapi Mountains restricts the feasible alignments to the Tejon Pass. This restriction results in all potentially feasible alignments crossing through the intersection of the San Andreas and Garlock faults. The Study has confirmed that the seismic risk for the I-5 alignment is still greater than for the Antelope Valley alignments.
-------- Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2019 at 1:58 am

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows

■ "The air problem is rooted in the amount of land that is not under some agricultural production."
The amount of agricultural land taken out of production once by HSR is very small compared to the amount lost to urban sprawl annually.

■ "The more reasonable approach is that used by the existing rail lines."
HSR paralleling an existing rail line results in MORE agricultural land being taken out of production because to mitigate against a derailing freight train crossing the path of a high speed train, HSR and Freight tracks must be a sufficient distance apart, this results in an unproductive no-mans-land between the two. Costs are also driven up by the fact that all road crossings will need a longer bridge to cross both sets of tracks.

■ "In that manner tunneling would be shared cost with Amtrak."
Amtrak's diesel trains can't operate in long tunnels without suffocating the passengers, and diesel locomotives are not capable of climbing the 3.5% grades inside the Pacheco pass tunnels. Amtrak cannot electrify because the freight railroads don't want it. A 70mph diesel locomotive would just get in the way of a 200mph bullet train if they shared tracks.

■ "What is actually achievable using existing right-of ways is the way to go."
That is the "Boeing 737 Syndrome", put more lipstick on the pig and muddle through. Building a new alignment that is fit for purpose across open agricultural land and passing through the downtown of cities is the way to go.


2 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on May 8, 2019 at 8:45 am

Old Steve is a registered user.

@TBM:

From your link, all caps TUNNEL below is my font. Cross the San Gabriel Fault in a tunnel. San Gabriel Fault is part of the San Andreas Fault Complex.


Seismic – The 2005 Program EIR/EIS concluded that the I-5 corridor would have considerably higher seismic issues than the Antelope Valley corridor. Project-level studies for the Antelope Valley have resulted in alignments that cross the San Gabriel fault (which has a low probability of rupture and a small predicted movement) in TUNNEL. However, the I-5 corridor remains more seismically active than the Antelope Valley corridor, paralleling the San Gabriel fault for 20 miles, and passing through the intersection of the Garlock and San Andreas faults. The topography of the Tehachapi Mountains restricts the feasible alignments to the Tejon Pass.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2019 at 9:46 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

If the train is on an elevated track next to I-5 then tunneling is not the issue. at this point in time there is an elevated structure sitting in Fresno. If there is an earthquake of any major value then there will be no trains in tunnels wherever until a study is made as to structure solidity.
As to air quality I used to drive from SF to LA on a regular basis and the valley was a cornucopia of agriculture. I stopped driving when the whole place was brown dirt. You could see a truck driving out in the fields with a trail of dirt swirling up. Something is very wrong out there. But to the issue who owns the land next to I-5? We have become a banana republic where the land is owned by corporate entities but not used and under control by corporations. Is the use of the land being blocked by corporate entities? Since there is business along the road then there is development of underground electricity and water in place already. You all keep talking as though this whole project will proceed - it will not proceed any further than the Bakersfield to Merced section because voters are boing to vote again. You cannot vote on a cost evaluation then blow up the cost without any further evaluation.


Like this comment
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on May 8, 2019 at 10:40 am

Old Steve is a registered user.

@Res 1:

We can agree to disagree which alignment up the Central Valley should have been picked. It does not matter. Both Highway grades (Pacheco Pass & Grapevine) are too steep for steel wheels on steel rails. Both areas require rail tunnels to cross earthquake faults. This is done in rock tunnels around the world without much issue. Since Gov. Newsom is arguing HSR downscoping with Trump admin, no second vote is likely anytime soon.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2019 at 11:24 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Gov Newsome has lot on his plate - downscoping would happen no matter what administration is in charge. No one program can demonstrate bad management, bad fiscal responsibility, and skate on through as though nothing is wrong. We are dealing with a mountain of issues, some of which are directly related to transportation - none of it good. We cannot continue to just go along when the obvious is on the books. There is not enough money out there despite what everyone is saying - yes we have companies that make money but that is their money. And if there is any proceeding beyond the current plan than there will be a vote.


2 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2019 at 12:56 pm

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows

A study into viaduct solidity was done BEFORE the structure was built: Web Link

A viaduct all the way down the I-5 is a terrible plan. Too expensive to build, too expensive to maintain, too difficult to access in an emergency, and it by-passes millions of potential ticket paying customers in the nearby cities. Putting both North-South transportation spines on the same alignment risks that they could both get taken out by the same sink hole.

HSR should be aligned on the surface on a low berm where possible: Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 9, 2019 at 5:49 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Some confusion here - this started as an article about Caltrans and is ending up as an article about HSR - 2 different topics. Caltrans - I am definitely in favor of the train on the peninsula being on a berm. Since we are in a flood prone area it needs to be elevated. Any tunnels would be a disaster. Since it is stopping at each city it needs to be accessible. Also the electrification issue is suspect. Article today in newspapers is that there is now disagreements as to how electricity is generated with contention of including hydropower in the mix. Lawsuits by many groups both for and against how electricity is generated. Something we take for granite is now a lawsuit beach ball. Has to do with the construction of dams - where and when and boohoo if carried out - need to be natural flow of water with no dams.

As to HSR it is not stopping at each town - it is not a commuter train - and already has a viaduct built in Fresno. So one has to assume that the viaduct that is already built is the way this will all go. Just to mention that most commuter trains on the east cost are on viaducts going through the inner cities. The viaduct makes sense since you cannot use a rail road function to shut down the roads from one end of the state to the other.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2019 at 10:41 am

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> Some confusion here - this started as an article about Caltrans and is ending up as an article about HSR - 2 different topics.

Two highly related topics. Because HSR will share the Caltrain ROW up the Peninsula, the ROW issues rationally will be solved together.


South of San Jose, they are two different topics. I do see some lack of information in a few posts above about HSR. Here is an article about the "~$5B" 13 mile-long HSR tunnel under Pacheco. As of the time of the article, there are basically no unusual issues identified. Very feasible. Web Link. I'm not sure that is true of the 20-mile-long tunnel system at the southern end. Feasible, I'm sure, but, it is a significantly more complex problem than Pacheco.

Someone else mentioned "towns". HSR will not be commuter rail, stopping every 2-5 miles. But, some trains will stop at central valley cities, as well as making occasional regional stops. i.e. Modesto, Turlock, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Hanford, Corcoran, Wasco, Bakesfield. Web Link


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 9, 2019 at 11:32 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I have seen articles in which HSR could be mapped through to Livermore area then cross over through the upper bay area to SF and by pass the lower approach which has proved so controversial. There is already Amtrak right of way following the ACE tracks. The southern approach has a separate problem of a potential increase in the size of the dam in that section. Also some controversy in the south of San Jose Gilroy section. The theory that HSR will take land by eminent domain in the south section is now controversial. The Bakersfield to Fresno section has to show some profit first to justify the expansion effort. Bottom line is that the section in the valley has to be completed first and show some value before there is any forward action. Gas lighting this effort has come to an end.


2 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2019 at 12:17 pm

@ "The viaduct makes sense since you cannot use a rail road function to shut down the roads from one end of the state to the other."

The High Speed Rail Authorities "how much stuff costs" handbook puts the cost of a rail viaduct at $65 million per mile. A road bridge overpass costs $27 million.
Of the 110 miles of HSR under construction there was only one location, South of Fresno, where putting the rail on a 3,700 foot viaduct worked out less expensive than putting multiple road crossings on overpasses.
Viaducts are also necessary to cross river valleys and freight railroads.
For 97% of the route, HSR is on the ground and roads cross on overpasses Web Link
Web Link


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Posted by TBM, a resident of another community

>> The High Speed Rail Authorities "how much stuff costs" handbook

Do you have a link for that handbook? Or, if not, a searchable document name?


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Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 9, 2019 at 1:23 pm

"Some confusion here - this started as an article about Caltrans and is ending up as an article about HSR - 2 different topics.

Two highly related topics. Because HSR will share the Caltrain ROW up the Peninsula, the ROW issues rationally will be solved together."

Unless some future Governor brings it back to life, HSR is null and void on the peninsula. Only the Merced - Bakersfield route survives.

So why are we still obsessing over HSR on the peninsula?

I could see a connection between ACE and HSR in the valley having some validity. The ACE section would not be high speed and would have a San Jose terminus.


4 people like this
Posted by Gentleman...Start Your Engines!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 9, 2019 at 1:31 pm

> Cars are outdated status symbols of a selfish population still living in the 50’s.

And the 1960s-70s-80s-90s-00s-10s and so one. Get the picture?

A once upon a time status symbol is now an everyday necessity for people who actually have lives.

Bikes, walking and taking mass transit OK in some instances but not for all.


4 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2019 at 2:54 pm

>>"how much stuff costs" in California vs. Germany: hsr.ca.gov/docs/about/legislative_affairs/Review_of_Capital_Costs_Est_2018_Assoc_with_Section_SF_Baker_Valley_To_Valley_Concept.pdf

The objective of this benchmark report is to compare the budget estimated by the CHSRA with similar high-speed projects constructed and operated by DB as well as with other international HSR projects and to provide a plausibility check of the estimates.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2019 at 9:56 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Great article in the WSJ 05/13/19 - "AMTRAK Puts $2 Billion on the Line". Amtrak is building a new engine for the Acela version which is high speed and runs on regular rails. It will be going in the Northeast corridor Washington DC to New York. It has already been approved for federal financing and funding. It is made in the US. It makes sense at this point in time to look at this option since the bugs have already been worked out and it satisfies most of the requirements we have been told to expect. And it satisfies the Buy America requirements for funding. The costing has been done for that busy corridor so we have a road map of the cost we can expect Caltrain to absorb. And it eliminates the requirement for electrification which has been the major cost driver. So our problem is reduced to the crossings at our major streets. That would be a berm with undercrossing for autos and a separate tunnel for bikes and walkers. The undercrossing on these street has a height limitation since in residential areas.


6 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2019 at 1:24 pm

@@ "Amtrak is building a new engine for the Acela"

The new Acelas are being built by French company Alstom and are a variant of the fully debugged Avelia model: Web Link

The new Acelas are electric and can only run on the already electrified Northeast Corridor.

Alstom will probably put in a bid for California's high-speed trains when the time comes, but a different type of train, an "EMU", which Alstom also makes Web Link) , will be necessary in California to climb the steep mountain passes.

Amtrak estimates it will cost $151 billion to upgrade the 225 mile long Northeast Corridor to not-really-high-speed Web Link , so $77 billion for 500 miles of real high-speed track in California seems like a bargain.


2 people like this
Posted by @TBM
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 13, 2019 at 3:01 pm

@TBM is a registered user.

What is the per-rider cost, rather than per-mile cost? Over, say, 20 years? Of each of those?


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 13, 2019 at 3:06 pm

^ "$77 billion for 500 miles of real high-speed track in California seems like a bargain."

Or an egregious underestimate.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Yes - the Acela is being built by a French Company Alstom but it is being built in America - Hornell, New York. It is a giant factory that has been making trains since the 1800's. So that qualifies as a built in America criteria for federal approval of funds. 85% of the parts are made in America. The Article indicates there is a power car - no mention of electricity. We still have not proceeded to the full implementation of HSR - right now it is Bakersfield to Merced. That is flat territory. And other reports have shown a route Merced back around to Manteca / Livermore/ Oakland/SF.
Focusing on Caltrain on the peninsula the Acela locomotive and cars looks like a perfect answer to many arguments concerning the use of electricity, overhead wires, removal of trees, houses. But most important a qualifier for funding.

So what are qualifiers for cost choices - federal funding, US people employed in NY to make train. tracks that can be used by freight trains. I realize that the hardline HSR people want a train made in Europe but that is an unnecessary expense.


6 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2019 at 4:24 pm

Californians voted in a state wide ballot for:

"Electric trains that are capable of sustained maximum revenue operating speeds of no less than 200 miles per hour", plus a bunch of other terms and conditions that your alternative design would not satisfy Web Link

If you start now, you can get your fully thought through repeal-and-replace proposal on the 2020 ballot.


1 person likes this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2019 at 5:27 pm

"Alstom will probably put in a bid for California's high-speed trains"

Ooh, I can hardly wait! Imagine riding state-of-the-art electric trains between the teeming metropolises of Bakersfield and Merced. At high speed, no less! I'm sure those trains will be full to the brim.


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 13, 2019 at 5:52 pm

^ I'll be among the first to ride the Bakersfield-Merced express, just for bragging rights before it runs out of money and gets shut down. Might also go out to Moffett Field this weekend and shell out $450 for a ride in a WW2 B-24 while it's still flying.


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Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2019 at 6:10 pm

"I'll be among the first to ride the Bakersfield-Merced express, just for bragging rights before it runs out of money and gets shut down."

If you plan it right you can ride the last diesel-powered Caltrain.

Keep in mind, though, that diesel-powered trains will probably run to Gilroy long after the ROW is electrified to San Jose.

I still say it makes a whole lotta sense to use ACE to connect San Jose to the vestige of HSR running between Merced and Bakersfield.


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 13, 2019 at 6:49 pm

Cool. Sorry I missed the last steam train around here. Maybe the 4449 will come through again someday. ACE is always a fun ride. Once took the 3-hour Capitol Corridor from San Jose up to the Sacramento Rail Museum. Good stuff in there. Apart from trains, I rode that Zeppelin while it was still at Moffett. And real happy I got to see Notre Dame in Paris before it burned down. Never know what last chances tomorrow will bring. The world is still full of great things to see and do! But Palo Alto is hometown for me. Apologies for the ramble.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2019 at 7:20 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

TBM - yes we voted for a program with the funding assumed within a stated amount. Your new governor has already stated that that vote missed the mark - on all points - cost, schedule, and technical specifications. Nice try, nice gas lighting. We are dealing with facts here and trying to recover a vestige of the program with a new, stylish engine. Looks like a winner to me. HSR is already dead.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2019 at 11:56 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

So I ran into the PA City Council Meeting at 10:30 at night discussing tunnels in South PA. No tunnels beyond Oregon Expressway? What a weird bunch of comments and conclusions. The governor of the state has made some decisions concerning the welfare of HSR which he has announced. Yet the city just keeps plodding along with no input as to what the state action is on this topic. Can the city manager please get an official set of criteria from the state government as to what they are going to fund. The need to tear up the streets and take homes by eminent domain appears to be a goal here with no respect to clarifications from the state as to decisions on this matter.


2 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2019 at 3:37 am

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows "We are dealing with facts here"

Fact is Amtrak new Acela is an electric train, the "power car" gets it's power from an overhead cable using the red stick on top of the train: youtube.com/watch?v=LiKrC14aqm0

The only place in California this train could operate will be the Caltrain corridor after electrification in 2022.

Caltrain is already ordered Swiss electric trains what are under construction in Utah: Web Link

There is concern Amtrack is overpaying for a train that cannot reach it's top speed on any existing American track: Web Link
It could reach its top speed of 220mph between Madera and Bakersfield after electrification of that section.

@"HSR is already dead"
@"Can the city manager please get an official set of criteria from the state government as to what they are going to fund"
If HSR is dead why would the State fund a local infrastructure upgrade in wealthy Palo Alto?


3 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 14, 2019 at 7:39 am

"I ran into the PA City Council Meeting at 10:30 at night discussing tunnels in South PA. No tunnels beyond Oregon Expressway?"

No tunnel north of Oregon expwy/Matadero creek is a giant step forward for our committee of amateur rail planners. That's a headline in and of itself. It means they have finally come to their senses and abandoned the idea of a hugely expensive and wasteful citywide tunnel — until they change their minds again.


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