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  #1561  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 5:08 PM
k1052 k1052 is offline
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So...in theory what would it cost to go over Cajon in the I-15 right of way on as little expensive structure (viaducts) as possible? The grade is what 6 or 7% which should not present a problem. Granted it wouldn't be a 150mph ride in that segment but still.
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  #1562  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 5:58 PM
digitallagasse digitallagasse is online now
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Originally Posted by k1052 View Post
So...in theory what would it cost to go over Cajon in the I-15 right of way on as little expensive structure (viaducts) as possible? The grade is what 6 or 7% which should not present a problem. Granted it wouldn't be a 150mph ride in that segment but still.
The grade for I-15 is 6% which is too steep for HSR. In comparison the grade on BNSF's line is 2.2%, which is steep for trains. Trains are running roughly 20 mph on this grade. A little faster on the way down and a little slower on the way up. A lighter HSR train would likely be able to run a similar grade quicker but the speed drop is massive.

I believe an HSR line in both Japan and France go into the 3% range so such a grade is possible.
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  #1563  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 6:25 PM
k1052 k1052 is offline
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Originally Posted by digitallagasse View Post
The grade for I-15 is 6% which is too steep for HSR. In comparison the grade on BNSF's line is 2.2%, which is steep for trains. Trains are running roughly 20 mph on this grade. A little faster on the way down and a little slower on the way up. A lighter HSR train would likely be able to run a similar grade quicker but the speed drop is massive.

I believe an HSR line in both Japan and France go into the 3% range so such a grade is possible.
Even at significantly reduced speeds it should still take less than 15 minutes to clear the pass assuming a higher grade. I doubt BNSF would be amenable to sharing it's ROW.
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  #1564  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 6:34 PM
digitallagasse digitallagasse is online now
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Originally Posted by k1052 View Post
Even at significantly reduced speeds it should still take less than 15 minutes to clear the pass assuming a higher grade. I doubt BNSF would be amenable to sharing it's ROW.
Correct BNSF wouldn't. The I-15 ROW is too steep so a new ROW would be needed.
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  #1565  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 6:51 PM
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That's a lot of new stations. I guess that is because the commuter business is stronger than they anticipated? Adding all these stops to the Miami-Orlando express trains seems like a bad idea, so I'm guessing that they are going to start offering local and express services... which probably means even more than 32 trains per day running through the treasure coast cities. I bet they're going to be so happy!
To be fair, the Florida East Coast originally developed most of the towns there as railroad suburbs, so now naturally they want their trains back.

Brightline as it currently exists is basically a privately-run commuter rail line. The intercity market isn't going to get tapped until it reaches metro Orlando.
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Originally Posted by digitallagasse View Post
The grade for I-15 is 6% which is too steep for HSR. In comparison the grade on BNSF's line is 2.2%, which is steep for trains. Trains are running roughly 20 mph on this grade. A little faster on the way down and a little slower on the way up. A lighter HSR train would likely be able to run a similar grade quicker but the speed drop is massive.

I believe an HSR line in both Japan and France go into the 3% range so such a grade is possible.
IOW a HSR line over Cajon would require a new alignment (assuming that I-15 is too steep and the BNSF route is too curvilinear).
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  #1566  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 9:19 PM
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Originally Posted by digitallagasse View Post
Correct BNSF wouldn't. The I-15 ROW is too steep so a new ROW would be needed.
EMUs can handle a 6% grade, just not at full speed which the I-15 curvatures would probably prohibit anyway.

Seems possible that Virgin could cut a deal with CA to get over the hump and hook into the Metrolink San Bernardino line near Ontario.
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  #1567  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 9:37 PM
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It's funny how different passenger and fright trains are.

If you are designing your tracks for passenger trains, you can use very steep grades that would be impossible for freight trains. If you are designing for electric passenger trains (with overhead wires for basically infinite energy) you can have trains climb incredibly steep tracks for a very long time, since passenger trains are almost always overpowered. Seriously, the locomotive to car ratio for passenger trains is rediculous compared to freight trains, and that doesn't even consider how light passenger cars are compared to freight cars (passenger cars, no matter how full of people they are, are still mostly full of air).
The one thing fast passenger trains can't handle is sharp curves, because then they have to slow down.

If you are designing your track for freight trains, you want to avoid grades at all costs, since you will be lugging millions of tons up and down that grade forever. Curves are great, since they flatten out the slope of your tracks.

So for freight trains, grades of 2% is really steep, and the tracks are usually very curvy. For passenger trains, grades can be as steep as you like but curves are dealbreakers.

So the grades of I-15 in Cajon pass being 6-7% are not a problem. The real problem wth I-15 is the curves.

Road curves are different than railroad curves. Highway curves use a single radius, since road lanes are wide and drivers can steer within the lane to smooth out G forces.
Trains cannot steer within their track, so the curve itself needs to be laid out with a variable radius in order to minimize G forces (and avoid derailments). These curves are called Spiral Curves, and have a very gradual entrance and exit that are extremely difficult to calculate. (The difficulty in calculations is a main reason why these curves are not common on roadways.)

So even though the speed limit of I-15 through Cajon pass is 60-70 mph, trains that follow that alignment will not be able to go that fast. Probably 45-50 mph at the most.

This applies more broadly than I-15 in Cajon; in most cases where rail transit had been shoehorned into road ROW's, the cars are allowed to go faster than the trains for the simple reason that the infrastructure was not designed for trains.

Let trains be trains and let cars be cars.


Sticking to the existing railroad ROW's will be just as fast, if not faster, than using I-15. (An all-new passenger rail ROW would be fastest, but let's be realistic here...) There are 3 rail ROW's through Cajon pass: One Union Pacific (formerly Southern Pacific) track furthest up the mountainside, a double-track shared UP/BNSF line halfway down the mountainside, and a single-track BNSF/UP line that runs mostly along the bottom of the canyon.
This third track at the bottom, called Mainline 3, is the best for passenger service. It has the fewest curves and what curves exist are really gentle compared to the other two options. Because of the few curves, it is also the steepest option at 3%, but that doesn't matter for passenger trains.

If I were the consulting engineer for this project () I would recommend that VTUSA builds a second track next to Mainline 3. Perhaps it would be possible to build a third track beside the existing double-track line (Mainlines 1 and 2) and then buy Mainline 3 from BNSF outright. Perhaps get the state of California to buy it as a dedicated passenger rail line to be used by VTUSA, Amtrak, and Metrolink (I can imagine Metrolink service between San Bernardino in the medium-far future.)

Anyway, Mainline 3 is the way to go. It is exactly 45 miles between San Bernardino and Victorville by rail -Amtrak already runs this route in 70 minutes. It would surprise me if a VTUSA train, with their much higher power-to-weight ratio, couldn't do it in 45 minutes.

PDF map of rail routs in Cajon Pass

As for cost, following Main 3, no new major bridges or tunnels would need to be built, but the I-15 bridge over Main 3 would need to be rebuilt in order to accommodate 2 (or more) tracks. The last 5 miles into San Bernardino are extremely tight and other adjacent infrastructure would need to be moved to accommodate another passenger-only track. But if we make a broad generalization and say $5 million per mile, (higher than the estimate of $2 million per mile on flat ground) we arrive at a price of $225 million. This does *not* include the ROW costs, which may end up doubling my estimate, but even so I think this shows that a dedicated passenger track up Cajon is not all that far-fetched an idea.

Before people say that this is being unreasonably optimistic, in 2008 BNSF completed 16 miles of new track in Cajon Pass for $90 million. This project also included things like daylighting old tunnels and some very significant earthwork and slope stabilization projects because the new track is very high up the mountain (to keep grades low). $90 million/16 miles = $5.625 million/mile, so my estimate of $5 million/mile is not unrealistic.

For context, Brightline's Orlando extension is expected to cost $2 BILLION. That extension is only 40 miles long, but there are a significant number of bridges and underpasses, and all the track is designed to run at 125 mph, which adds significantly to costs. The cost per mile of this project is not comparable to Cajon pass, but the significantly lower price of my estimate is very comparable; it shows that VTUSA would be well within its resources to extend their tracks into San Bernardino if they chose to do so.
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  #1568  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 9:51 PM
k1052 k1052 is offline
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^
Interesting

So Cajon seems relatively feasible at a lowish (for US rail) cost via a few options.

I think I'll be long dead before the state pays many billions to tunnel under Tehachapi so hopefully they explore this option to reach Vegas.
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  #1569  
Old Posted Sep 20, 2019, 2:35 PM
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What would happen if instead of going to San Bernardino, Virgin turned north and connected with CAHSR south of Fresno? It would give NorCal passengers an easy ride to Vegas, and a logical non-LA terminus for the Central Valley line.
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  #1570  
Old Posted Sep 20, 2019, 2:55 PM
digitallagasse digitallagasse is online now
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Originally Posted by sammyg View Post
What would happen if instead of going to San Bernardino, Virgin turned north and connected with CAHSR south of Fresno? It would give NorCal passengers an easy ride to Vegas, and a logical non-LA terminus for the Central Valley line.
The later plan is to have the Virgin line meet the CHSR line in Palmdale. The Virgin trains could then use the CHSR line into SoCal. Virgin may need to re-think that plan as it will be awhile at best for that to happen.
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  #1571  
Old Posted Sep 23, 2019, 11:17 PM
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hammersklavier hammersklavier is offline
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Originally Posted by Hatman View Post
It's funny how different passenger and fright trains are.

If you are designing your tracks for passenger trains, you can use very steep grades that would be impossible for freight trains. If you are designing for electric passenger trains (with overhead wires for basically infinite energy) you can have trains climb incredibly steep tracks for a very long time, since passenger trains are almost always overpowered. Seriously, the locomotive to car ratio for passenger trains is rediculous compared to freight trains, and that doesn't even consider how light passenger cars are compared to freight cars (passenger cars, no matter how full of people they are, are still mostly full of air).
The one thing fast passenger trains can't handle is sharp curves, because then they have to slow down.

If you are designing your track for freight trains, you want to avoid grades at all costs, since you will be lugging millions of tons up and down that grade forever. Curves are great, since they flatten out the slope of your tracks.

So for freight trains, grades of 2% is really steep, and the tracks are usually very curvy. For passenger trains, grades can be as steep as you like but curves are dealbreakers.

So the grades of I-15 in Cajon pass being 6-7% are not a problem. The real problem wth I-15 is the curves.

Road curves are different than railroad curves. Highway curves use a single radius, since road lanes are wide and drivers can steer within the lane to smooth out G forces.
Trains cannot steer within their track, so the curve itself needs to be laid out with a variable radius in order to minimize G forces (and avoid derailments). These curves are called Spiral Curves, and have a very gradual entrance and exit that are extremely difficult to calculate. (The difficulty in calculations is a main reason why these curves are not common on roadways.)

So even though the speed limit of I-15 through Cajon pass is 60-70 mph, trains that follow that alignment will not be able to go that fast. Probably 45-50 mph at the most.

This applies more broadly than I-15 in Cajon; in most cases where rail transit had been shoehorned into road ROW's, the cars are allowed to go faster than the trains for the simple reason that the infrastructure was not designed for trains.

Let trains be trains and let cars be cars.


Sticking to the existing railroad ROW's will be just as fast, if not faster, than using I-15. (An all-new passenger rail ROW would be fastest, but let's be realistic here...) There are 3 rail ROW's through Cajon pass: One Union Pacific (formerly Southern Pacific) track furthest up the mountainside, a double-track shared UP/BNSF line halfway down the mountainside, and a single-track BNSF/UP line that runs mostly along the bottom of the canyon.
This third track at the bottom, called Mainline 3, is the best for passenger service. It has the fewest curves and what curves exist are really gentle compared to the other two options. Because of the few curves, it is also the steepest option at 3%, but that doesn't matter for passenger trains.

If I were the consulting engineer for this project () I would recommend that VTUSA builds a second track next to Mainline 3. Perhaps it would be possible to build a third track beside the existing double-track line (Mainlines 1 and 2) and then buy Mainline 3 from BNSF outright. Perhaps get the state of California to buy it as a dedicated passenger rail line to be used by VTUSA, Amtrak, and Metrolink (I can imagine Metrolink service between San Bernardino in the medium-far future.)

Anyway, Mainline 3 is the way to go. It is exactly 45 miles between San Bernardino and Victorville by rail -Amtrak already runs this route in 70 minutes. It would surprise me if a VTUSA train, with their much higher power-to-weight ratio, couldn't do it in 45 minutes.

PDF map of rail routs in Cajon Pass

As for cost, following Main 3, no new major bridges or tunnels would need to be built, but the I-15 bridge over Main 3 would need to be rebuilt in order to accommodate 2 (or more) tracks. The last 5 miles into San Bernardino are extremely tight and other adjacent infrastructure would need to be moved to accommodate another passenger-only track. But if we make a broad generalization and say $5 million per mile, (higher than the estimate of $2 million per mile on flat ground) we arrive at a price of $225 million. This does *not* include the ROW costs, which may end up doubling my estimate, but even so I think this shows that a dedicated passenger track up Cajon is not all that far-fetched an idea.

Before people say that this is being unreasonably optimistic, in 2008 BNSF completed 16 miles of new track in Cajon Pass for $90 million. This project also included things like daylighting old tunnels and some very significant earthwork and slope stabilization projects because the new track is very high up the mountain (to keep grades low). $90 million/16 miles = $5.625 million/mile, so my estimate of $5 million/mile is not unrealistic.

For context, Brightline's Orlando extension is expected to cost $2 BILLION. That extension is only 40 miles long, but there are a significant number of bridges and underpasses, and all the track is designed to run at 125 mph, which adds significantly to costs. The cost per mile of this project is not comparable to Cajon pass, but the significantly lower price of my estimate is very comparable; it shows that VTUSA would be well within its resources to extend their tracks into San Bernardino if they chose to do so.
It occurs to me that leasing trackage rights to Amtrak and Metrolink -- which would yield a new Metrolink line to Victorville, but IIRC the main Amtrak bottleneck is upstream at Tehachapi Pass -- would help pay for the cost of doing this, but I don't think trackage rights options are that valuable. Perhaps such a project would have to be a partnership between all the interested players -- Caltrans, VTUSA, BNSF, Amtrak, and Metrolink.
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  #1572  
Old Posted Sep 26, 2019, 11:12 PM
NikolasM NikolasM is offline
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Originally Posted by sammyg View Post
What would happen if instead of going to San Bernardino, Virgin turned north and connected with CAHSR south of Fresno? It would give NorCal passengers an easy ride to Vegas, and a logical non-LA terminus for the Central Valley line.
You should look at a map of California and Nevada in google maps with terrain turned on. The only $$$ feasible place for this is across Tehachapi Pass south of Bakersfield, where CAHSR was planning to go anyways, (though they really should just follow I-5 via the Tejon Pass into the valley, IMO). A straight line from anywhere near Fresno to Las Vegas takes you across some of the tallest mountains in the lower 48...
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  #1573  
Old Posted Sep 30, 2019, 3:30 PM
sammyg sammyg is offline
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You should look at a map of California and Nevada in google maps with terrain turned on. The only $$$ feasible place for this is across Tehachapi Pass south of Bakersfield, where CAHSR was planning to go anyways, (though they really should just follow I-5 via the Tejon Pass into the valley, IMO). A straight line from anywhere near Fresno to Las Vegas takes you across some of the tallest mountains in the lower 48...
I meant from Victorville to Bakersfield, so yes, Tehachapi. Because CAHSR isn't being built south of Bakersfield, it provides a good opportunity for Brightline.
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  #1574  
Old Posted Oct 3, 2019, 4:43 AM
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The later plan is to have the Virgin line meet the CHSR line in Palmdale. The Virgin trains could then use the CHSR line into SoCal. Virgin may need to re-think that plan as it will be awhile at best for that to happen.
It's probably too much to hope for, but a partnership between Virgin and CAHSR could put building the segment between Palmdale and Burbank (one of the most technically challenging on the whole CAHSR line) on the fast track.
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  #1575  
Old Posted Oct 3, 2019, 5:58 AM
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Originally Posted by sammyg View Post
I meant from Victorville to Bakersfield, so yes, Tehachapi. Because CAHSR isn't being built south of Bakersfield, it provides a good opportunity for Brightline.
A 10 year Environmental Review process would have to be followed before any tracks could be laid in Tehachapi Pass between Bakersfield and Victorville.
A 10 year Environmental Review process has been recently completed between Palmdale and Victorville so CDOT can build a new freeway.
https://la.streetsblog.org/2019/06/1...al-boondoggle/
That EIS included a parallel high speed rail line with the environmental impacts. So Virgin (ex-Brightline, ex-Desert Express) trains could build that rail line almost immediately after raising sufficient funds and getting construction permits, while the freeway is being built or afterwards.
The EIS for the high speed rail line between Bakersfield and Palmdale and another between Palmdale and L.A. are underway. There is no EIS study underway for a high speed rail line between Bakersfield and Victorville.


The question remaining to be answered is if Virgin would extend it's L.V. to Victorville HSR line to Palmdale before CHSR builds its line from L.A. to Palmdale and onwards towards Bakersfield? I can see both answers of yes and no to that billion dollar question.
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  #1576  
Old Posted Oct 3, 2019, 6:05 AM
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It's probably too much to hope for, but a partnership between Virgin and CAHSR could put building the segment between Palmdale and Burbank (one of the most technically challenging on the whole CAHSR line) on the fast track.
I doubt CHSR will want to share the HSR line between L.A. and Palmdale. I doubt they would even allow Virgin trains on their tracks - I doubt the two trains would use the same signals and train controls. Therefore I doubt Virgin would front any funding to CHSR for the tunneling required between Palmdale and L.A.
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  #1577  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 12:42 AM
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I doubt CHSR will want to share the HSR line between L.A. and Palmdale. I doubt they would even allow Virgin trains on their tracks - I doubt the two trains would use the same signals and train controls. Therefore I doubt Virgin would front any funding to CHSR for the tunneling required between Palmdale and L.A.
The current Palmdale Station map on CAHSR's webpage shows a potential future XpressWest connection (name apparently hasn't been updated), so it at least exists as a concept, if nothing else.
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  #1578  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 12:44 PM
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The current Palmdale Station map on CAHSR's webpage shows a potential future XpressWest connection (name apparently hasn't been updated), so it at least exists as a concept, if nothing else.
It's on the map because of the completed EIS for the freeway/high speed railway between Palmdale and Victorville.

I just wanted to remind everyone how slow Metrolink trains go between Palmdale and L.A. Watch this youtube video if you have enough time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pwh9WLHqHgk
The video was captured in 2004, the trains have not sped up much since.

It is an excellent example of curvature freight trains require to climb or descend thousands of feet of elevation.
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  #1579  
Old Posted Oct 12, 2019, 4:44 AM
N830MH N830MH is offline
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Hi all,

Miami Dade county has been approves for Virgin Trains stop at Aventura Mall station.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/loc...sAcqQlOspaQihI
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  #1580  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 11:46 PM
N830MH N830MH is offline
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Multi-million deal would run Virgin Trains into Port of Miami

https://www.miamitodaynews.com/2019/...ZL1zfF1CyzVePc

Quote:
Less than a week after they OK’d spending up to $76.7 million in taxpayer dollars on a new Virgin Trains station in Aventura, Miami-Dade lawmakers today (10/17) are to look at another multimillion-dollar deal to extend the company’s services to PortMiami.

County commissioners are to consider a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Virgin summarizing the terms of an estimated $53.3 million project to design, build and operate a 20,500-square-foot station on at least one acre of seaport land.
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