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tech12 Dec 7, 2023 11:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by homebucket (Post 10097184)

SFgate put out a giant "article" about the new HSR funding, but did it in the form of an advertisement for Brightline, where they tooted the horn of privatization (pun intended, heh), and barely mentioned CA HSR at all, except to imply that it's part of some bad trend that Brightline has "bucked" (headline has since changed), and to imply that it may not even be under construction yet, followed by the statement that it's "slow-moving". There were literally two sentences about it in the entire article, both negative, plus a passing negative mention in the headline.

They spent a whole lot of words hyping a non-existent train system that is far less impressive in scale than CA HSR, and benefits Californians far less, and made no mention of the ongoing extensive CA HSR construction, or the new funding for CA HSR at all. The SF Chronicle is an extremely lame excuse for a news outlet. Dishonest shit like this is part of the reason why the general public knows little to nothing about CA HSR.

But don't worry, because a day later SFgate released an article about CA HSR rail too...that was critical of it, and filled with false conservative talking points (such as the fake $100 billion price estimate that only ever existed in conservative propagandist's heads). And the last half of the article was about Brightline again, but with none of the negative framing used in regards to CA HSR. lol

Busy Bee Dec 7, 2023 11:25 PM

It matters little. They're just one more member in the irrelevant naysayers club which will look like absolute idiots once 200mph trains are streaking across the IOS making everyone in the state and the country slobber, demand more and wonder outloud "how did we ever live without this?" - just as predicted and just like everywhere else where high speed rail has ever been built.

sopas ej Dec 7, 2023 11:52 PM

Brightline West is private and for-profit, so even though it got 3 billion bucks from the feds, I assume the rest of the 12 billion dollars it supposedly will cost to build the line will have to come from private funding?

Why does that sound like it might run into problems? :P

AndrewK Dec 8, 2023 8:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tech12 (Post 10097216)
SFgate put out a giant "article" about the new HSR funding, but did it in the form of an advertisement for Brightline, where they tooted the horn of privatization (pun intended, heh), and barely mentioned CA HSR at all, except to imply that it's part of some bad trend that Brightline has "bucked" (headline has since changed), and to imply that it may not even be under construction yet, followed by the statement that it's "slow-moving". There were literally two sentences about it in the entire article, both negative, plus a passing negative mention in the headline…

…The SF Chronicle is an extremely lame excuse for a news outlet. Dishonest shit like this is part of the reason why the general public knows little to nothing about CA HSR...

The Chronicle and S.F. Gate are no longer directly related (though same parent company). The Chronicle might have its biases, but isn’t corporate shill clickbait the way S.F. gate is.

craigs Dec 8, 2023 10:53 PM

Today's LA Times editorial is upbeat about CAHSR (and Brightline). I am posting this in full because it is behind a paywall:

Funding for California’s bullet trains puts the high-speed rail revolution back on track

Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times
December 8, 2023

Finally, the federal government is putting serious money behind a greener and faster transportation system.

This week, the Biden administration announced $6 billion in funding for two high-speed rail projects that will eventually whisk passengers across California and Nevada on electrified trains that can travel 200 mph or faster. It’s a landmark investment in technology that is common in Asian and European countries, but missing in the United States, where the nation’s political leaders have prioritized funding for car and air travel.

The planet is paying the price. The transportation sector is now the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gasses that are fueling global warming and more extreme weather events. Climate change demands visionary, ambitious projects, such as electrified bullet trains, to end our dependence on fossil fuels.

The nation is going to have to invest in transportation infrastructure anyway. Roads are jammed with cars and trucks, and U.S. airports saw a record number of travelers over Thanksgiving weekend. The biggest challenge is building the high-speed rail lines fast enough to meet the need for alternatives to driving or flying.

The federal funding, which comes from the $1-trillion infrastructure package signed in 2021, will help accelerate two major projects: California’s bullet train through the Central Valley and a high-speed route between Southern California and Las Vegas.

Brightline secured $3 billion to build a 218-mile line that will carry passengers between Rancho Cucamonga and Las Vegas in slightly more than two hours. That’s significantly faster than it would be to drive, and it would avoid the soul-crushing traffic along the way. The funding infusion is supposed to get the bullet train operating by 2028, in time for the Olympics in Los Angeles.

Brightline is a private company that sees enormous potential in developing fast trains between large cities. This year, the company launched a higher-speed rail line between Miami and Orlando, Fla., that reaches 125 mph, which isn’t fast enough to be considered high-speed rail.

The Florida route was the first privately operated rail line to begin operations in the U.S. in a century, although, like most major transportation infrastructure projects, it has received public funding. The L.A.-Las Vegas route would also be privately operated. Aside from the $3-billion federal grant, the $12-billion project is expected to be funded through private capital and bonds.

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority received $3.1 billion, which is the largest infusion of federal funding to date for the beleaguered project. The money will help complete the 119-mile segment that is under construction between Madera and Shafter in the Central Valley, buy six electric trains and build a train station in downtown Fresno. The authority still needs $8 billion to $10 billion to finish the first segment that will carry passengers between downtown Merced and Bakersfield, but officials with the authority said the Biden administration has indicated this is a priority project that will be eligible for additional funds.

That federal support is essential. California’s bullet train is the nation’s most ambitious high-speed rail project so far, but it has suffered from overly optimistic projections, patchy political support and inconsistent funding. Now that the project is moving forward, it’s important to have federal, state and local governments working together to get it built.

The value is not just the bullet train itself, which will eventually link San Francisco and Los Angeles. The line will become the backbone of the state’s rail system, connecting to commuter lines, such as Metrolink in Southern California, and other high-speed rail lines, including the Brightline route to Las Vegas.

The work of building out a robust high-speed rail network isn’t easy or cheap. Neither were the development of the nation’s interstate highways and its air travel system. High-speed rail is a wise investment for a cleaner, faster, more comfortable traveling future.

twinpeaks Dec 9, 2023 5:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by craigs (Post 10098192)
Today's LA Times editorial is upbeat about CAHSR (and Brightline). I am posting this in full because it is behind a paywall:

Funding for California’s bullet trains puts the high-speed rail revolution back on track

Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times
December 8, 2023

Finally, the federal government is putting serious money behind a greener and faster transportation system.

.....

The value is not just the bullet train itself, which will eventually link San Francisco and Los Angeles. The line will become the backbone of the state’s rail system, connecting to commuter lines, such as Metrolink in Southern California, and other high-speed rail lines, including the Brightline route to Las Vegas.

The work of building out a robust high-speed rail network isn’t easy or cheap. Neither were the development of the nation’s interstate highways and its air travel system. High-speed rail is a wise investment for a cleaner, faster, more comfortable traveling future.

Awesome. . LA times Editorial finally in full supports of CA HSR.

FromSD Dec 9, 2023 7:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tech12 (Post 10097216)
SFgate put out a giant "article" about the new HSR funding, but did it in the form of an advertisement for Brightline, where they tooted the horn of privatization (pun intended, heh), and barely mentioned CA HSR at all, except to imply that it's part of some bad trend that Brightline has "bucked" (headline has since changed), and to imply that it may not even be under construction yet, followed by the statement that it's "slow-moving". lol

People seem to think that Brightline West being privately owned will in and of itself allow it to avoid all the problems that CA HSR has had. They point to Florida's Brightline, ignoring the fact that that service isn't high speed rail, that it mostly runs diesel trains on other company's tracks, and that its one relatively short section of purpose-built track is single-track only. Kudos to Brightline Florida for getting people to take trains, but it isn't high speed rail.

I'm sure Brightline West wanted more than $3 billion from the feds, but even if $3 billion is a disappointment for them, they are still using right of way in the middle of I-15 which by itself constitutes a significant public subsidy. I hope the public gets something in return for that.

jmecklenborg Dec 9, 2023 8:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FromSD (Post 10098759)
People seem to think that Brightline West being privately owned will in and of itself allow it to avoid all the problems that CA HSR has had. They point to Florida's Brightline, ignoring the fact that that service isn't high speed rail, that it mostly runs diesel trains on other company's tracks, and that its one relatively short section of purpose-built track is single-track only. Kudos to Brightline Florida for getting people to take trains, but it isn't high speed rail.

I'm sure Brightline West wanted more than $3 billion from the feds, but even if $3 billion is a disappointment for them, they are still using right of way in the middle of I-15 which by itself constitutes a significant public subsidy. I hope the public gets something in return for that.


The public won't understand these distinctions because the public doesn't understand the laws of time and space. And sadly, neither can many reporters.

gochujang Dec 10, 2023 12:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by twinpeaks (Post 10098700)
Awesome. . LA times Editorial finally in full supports of CA HSR.

Probably because Ralph Vartabedian's punk ass left the paper last year. :haha:

SoCalKid Dec 11, 2023 6:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tech12 (Post 10097216)
SFgate put out a giant "article" about the new HSR funding, but did it in the form of an advertisement for Brightline, where they tooted the horn of privatization (pun intended, heh), and barely mentioned CA HSR at all, except to imply that it's part of some bad trend that Brightline has "bucked" (headline has since changed), and to imply that it may not even be under construction yet, followed by the statement that it's "slow-moving". There were literally two sentences about it in the entire article, both negative, plus a passing negative mention in the headline.

They spent a whole lot of words hyping a non-existent train system that is far less impressive in scale than CA HSR, and benefits Californians far less, and made no mention of the ongoing extensive CA HSR construction, or the new funding for CA HSR at all. The SF Chronicle is an extremely lame excuse for a news outlet. Dishonest shit like this is part of the reason why the general public knows little to nothing about CA HSR.

But don't worry, because a day later SFgate released an article about CA HSR rail too...that was critical of it, and filled with false conservative talking points (such as the fake $100 billion price estimate that only ever existed in conservative propagandist's heads). And the last half of the article was about Brightline again, but with none of the negative framing used in regards to CA HSR. lol

Look, I'm a big supporter of high speed rail, including the California High Speed Rail project, but this is nonsense. The $100 billion isn't a "fake" price estimate that "only ever existed in conservative propagandists' heads". It's literally the official cost estimate provided by California High Speed Rail's 2022 business plan. It's not helpful to ignore California High Speed Rail's problems in order to cheerlead it. If we want high speed rail throughout the US (which I certainly do), then we need to call out problems in order to address them and prevent them from occurring in future segments and future projects. A good portion of these cost increases came from mismanagement and allowing local interests to extort the project. For example, look up the new, unnecessary elevated alignments in Fresno and Bakersfield that increased the budget by $2 billion, eating up most of the new federal funding. If we let this process become the norm and refuse to criticize any decisions made by California High Speed Rail, then cost to fund a national system will become so insane there will be no hope of ever getting a national system.

This project will be amazing if it ever finishes, but the process of building it so far has been flawed at best. Rather than trying to gloss over that, we as rail supporters should be trying to learn from mistakes made and demand a better process while simultaneously advocating for continued investment in rail.

LosAngelesSportsFan Dec 11, 2023 10:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SoCalKid (Post 10099855)
Look, I'm a big supporter of high speed rail, including the California High Speed Rail project, but this is nonsense. The $100 billion isn't a "fake" price estimate that "only ever existed in conservative propagandists' heads". It's literally the official cost estimate provided by California High Speed Rail's 2022 business plan. It's not helpful to ignore California High Speed Rail's problems in order to cheerlead it. If we want high speed rail throughout the US (which I certainly do), then we need to call out problems in order to address them and prevent them from occurring in future segments and future projects. A good portion of these cost increases came from mismanagement and allowing local interests to extort the project. For example, look up the new, unnecessary elevated alignments in Fresno and Bakersfield that increased the budget by $2 billion, eating up most of the new federal funding. If we let this process become the norm and refuse to criticize any decisions made by California High Speed Rail, then cost to fund a national system will become so insane there will be no hope of ever getting a national system.

This project will be amazing if it ever finishes, but the process of building it so far has been flawed at best. Rather than trying to gloss over that, we as rail supporters should be trying to learn from mistakes made and demand a better process while simultaneously advocating for continued investment in rail.

I agree with you. We can both be supportive and criticize bad decisions.

Busy Bee Dec 11, 2023 11:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SoCalKid (Post 10099855)
Look, I'm a big supporter of high speed rail, including the California High Speed Rail project, but this is nonsense. The $100 billion isn't a "fake" price estimate that "only ever existed in conservative propagandists' heads". It's literally the official cost estimate provided by California High Speed Rail's 2022 business plan. It's not helpful to ignore California High Speed Rail's problems in order to cheerlead it. If we want high speed rail throughout the US (which I certainly do), then we need to call out problems in order to address them and prevent them from occurring in future segments and future projects. A good portion of these cost increases came from mismanagement and allowing local interests to extort the project. For example, look up the new, unnecessary elevated alignments in Fresno and Bakersfield that increased the budget by $2 billion, eating up most of the new federal funding. If we let this process become the norm and refuse to criticize any decisions made by California High Speed Rail, then cost to fund a national system will become so insane there will be no hope of ever getting a national system.

This project will be amazing if it ever finishes, but the process of building it so far has been flawed at best. Rather than trying to gloss over that, we as rail supporters should be trying to learn from mistakes made and demand a better process while simultaneously advocating for continued investment in rail.

He may have meant to say the blown "$33 Billion" estimate which was never official and seems to be a thing of legend in media coverage of the project for years now. You're right the $100 billion estimate is actually the real cost estimate from CHSRA but the elusive $33 billion number that was ran with from the Prop never actually existed. Anybody that knew anything would have known the project was going to cost more than that. I theorize CHSRA always knew the program was north of $60 billion but I think the ballooning above that number has come as a surprise over the last 10+ years.

SoCalKid Dec 12, 2023 6:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 10100142)
He may have meant to say the blown "$33 Billion" estimate which was never official and seems to be a thing of legend in media coverage of the project for years now. You're right the $100 billion estimate is actually the real cost estimate from CHSRA but the elusive $33 billion number that was ran with from the Prop never actually existed. Anybody that knew anything would have known the project was going to cost more than that. I theorize CHSRA always knew the program was north of $60 billion but I think the ballooning above that number has come as a surprise over the last 10+ years.

Ok sure but the $33 billion number was still what was presented in the official ballot measure when it was given to the voters. Let's not forget that was in 2008 - back then that was a massive number, so I think most people probably believed it. So to say any of the numbers are coming from "conservative conspiracy theorists" isn't fair or helpful. People feel let down and misled by this project, and I understand where they're coming from. Leaders advocating for High Speed Rail (and the organization itself) need to be honest and transparent with the public going forward in order to regain trust. Yes, journalists like Ralph Vartabedian were often unfair in their critiques of CAHSR, but the organization and California's government gave them plenty of material to criticize.

TWAK Dec 12, 2023 10:12 PM

Costs have gone up since 2008, it's not rocket science. Notice that year is around the Great Recession, which made things worse and slowed the project down along with all the lawsuits. It's all transparent since everything is in the EIR, but I get the average person ain't gonna go through a 300 page PDF that shows how much a concrete pillar costs.

Does this have anything to do with So Cal not being part of the first phase of construction? If people are feeling mislead it's because they aren't taking anything into account or are salty for their area not being included. No way in hell my area ever gets HSR but IDGAF, I like trains.

Busy Bee Dec 12, 2023 10:57 PM

Prop 1A mentioned nothing about the full program budget. It only asked for bond issuance approval of $9.95 billion.

Because the media, both critical and "neutral" ran with the $33 billion number, many people seem to think that project estimated cost was in the 2008 bond measure language and thus "official". It was not.

https://ballotpedia.org/California_P..._Measure_(2008)


Scroll to about 6:00...
Video Link

craigs Dec 13, 2023 12:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SoCalKid (Post 10100762)
Ok sure but the $33 billion number was still what was presented in the official ballot measure when it was given to the voters.

Source?

JDRCRASH Dec 13, 2023 2:08 AM

I seem to recall a projected figure of $42 Billion (or maybe $40) thrown around in the TV ads that year. Maybe some subtracted the $9 Billion in the prop from that number and got $33 Billion? :shrug:

twinpeaks Dec 13, 2023 3:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JDRCRASH (Post 10101280)
I seem to recall a projected figure of $42 Billion (or maybe $40) thrown around in the TV ads that year. Maybe some subtracted the $9 Billion in the prop from that number and got $33 Billion? :shrug:

33, 42 or whatever billion was probably from a "John Doe" making up some number for the total cost, then that got reported, and snowballed from there. 9 billion was basically the seed funding to the get CA HSR project get started.

SoCalKid Dec 13, 2023 7:55 PM

Ok fine the ballot measure campaign said $40 billion, not $33 billion. Here is the link to the original voter guide:
https://web.archive.org/web/20130413...u-rebutt1a.htm

At the bottom, there's a link for more information on the project. At that link you can find this financing plan:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130411...0Financing.pdf

My larger point though is that this project has truly had 200%-300% increase in costs, and that isn't just some conservative fearmongering narrative, it is fact and is something that should be addressed transparently. A good portion of that is because of inflation, and another big portion is because it's impossible to accurately project costs without doing a ton of design work. BUT there has also been a lot of mismanagement and politically expedient design decisions that have significantly inflated the budget. So while we should continue to fund and work on this project, we also need to use it as a case study for what can go wrong with large projects and try to improve the process for the next segments. Pretending that all the very real problems are just conspiracies or political attacks is not helpful.

Busy Bee Dec 13, 2023 8:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SoCalKid (Post 10101902)
Pretending that all the very real problems are just conspiracies or political attacks is not helpful.


I really don't think anyone is saying that.

twinpeaks Dec 13, 2023 11:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SoCalKid (Post 10101902)
Ok fine the ballot measure campaign said $40 billion, not $33 billion. Here is the link to the original voter guide:
https://web.archive.org/web/20130413...u-rebutt1a.htm

At the bottom, there's a link for more information on the project. At that link you can find this financing plan:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130411...0Financing.pdf

My larger point though is that this project has truly had 200%-300% increase in costs, and that isn't just some conservative fearmongering narrative, it is fact and is something that should be addressed transparently. A good portion of that is because of inflation, and another big portion is because it's impossible to accurately project costs without doing a ton of design work. BUT there has also been a lot of mismanagement and politically expedient design decisions that have significantly inflated the budget. So while we should continue to fund and work on this project, we also need to use it as a case study for what can go wrong with large projects and try to improve the process for the next segments. Pretending that all the very real problems are just conspiracies or political attacks is not helpful.

Thanks for providing the source and agree with most of your points.

TWAK Dec 13, 2023 11:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SoCalKid (Post 10101902)
Ok fine the ballot measure campaign said $40 billion, not $33 billion. Here is the link to the original voter guide:
https://web.archive.org/web/20130413...u-rebutt1a.htm

At the bottom, there's a link for more information on the project. At that link you can find this financing plan:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130411...0Financing.pdf

My larger point though is that this project has truly had 200%-300% increase in costs, and that isn't just some conservative fearmongering narrative, it is fact and is something that should be addressed transparently. A good portion of that is because of inflation, and another big portion is because it's impossible to accurately project costs without doing a ton of design work. BUT there has also been a lot of mismanagement and politically expedient design decisions that have significantly inflated the budget. So while we should continue to fund and work on this project, we also need to use it as a case study for what can go wrong with large projects and try to improve the process for the next segments. Pretending that all the very real problems are just conspiracies or political attacks is not helpful.

I pulled this from your link (ditto with twinpeak's comments):
Quote:

Proposition 1A is a $9.95 billion bond measure for an 800-mile High-Speed Train network that will relieve 70 million passenger trips a year that now clog California's highways and airports—WITHOUT RAISING TAXES.
That's the part that matters most and that is really terrible that they included the no raising taxes part....like costs are gonna go up so there needs to be a way to raise funds, unless another bond and stuff. So if it's a "they said" thing and not solid language in the proposition then it really doesen't matter because what we all voted on was this. Costs go up with large projects, I mean that's just how things work. Let's say they did something like lock-in 2008 prices for stuff....what contractor would want to or be willing to be paid at 2008 levels? That would be a huge loss for anybody.
-I don't touch the political aspects in the subforums, so there will be no argument from that side of your point.

I'd like to know how it's inflated and what the mismanagement is, since you will actually address it. As a base...of course a 2008 price tag will be less than a 2023 price tag. Does it suck? Yes, but that's just how or economy and stuff works. As far as "politically expedient design decisions", well yeah that's how you convince people to support something if they won't do it on their own. A lawsuit was dropped by Burbank airport because HSR sweetened the pie for them.

electricron Dec 15, 2023 11:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TWAK (Post 10102157)
I pulled this from your link (ditto with twinpeak's comments):

That's the part that matters most and that is really terrible that they included the no raising taxes part....like costs are gonna go up so there needs to be a way to raise funds, unless another bond and stuff. So if it's a "they said" thing and not solid language in the proposition then it really doesen't matter because what we all voted on was this. Costs go up with large projects, I mean that's just how things work. Let's say they did something like lock-in 2008 prices for stuff....what contractor would want to or be willing to be paid at 2008 levels? That would be a huge loss for anybody.
-I don't touch the political aspects in the subforums, so there will be no argument from that side of your point.

I'd like to know how it's inflated and what the mismanagement is, since you will actually address it. As a base...of course a 2008 price tag will be less than a 2023 price tag. Does it suck? Yes, but that's just how or economy and stuff works. As far as "politically expedient design decisions", well yeah that's how you convince people to support something if they won't do it on their own. A lawsuit was dropped by Burbank airport because HSR sweetened the pie for them.

True, costs will rise as this project gets delayed. The question we must ask is WHY it got delayed. They promised that further studies were not needed, that further designs were not needed, and that further taxes were not needed. They lied on all three promises. 25% of the eco taxes was added, more studies and more designs are continuously being done, and 14 years later, are still being done.

markb1 Dec 30, 2023 10:45 PM

The $33B estimate is in the 2008 business plan: https://www.hsr.ca.gov/wp-content/up...08_FullRpt.pdf

They probably should not have, nor should they continue to make, estimates for the full phase 1, when no one has any idea when it will be done, nor has the necessary scoping been done for give a reliable estimate. Perhaps they are legally required to do that, though?

Will O' Wisp Jan 1, 2024 4:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SoCalKid (Post 10101902)
My larger point though is that this project has truly had 200%-300% increase in costs, and that isn't just some conservative fearmongering narrative, it is fact and is something that should be addressed transparently. A good portion of that is because of inflation, and another big portion is because it's impossible to accurately project costs without doing a ton of design work. BUT there has also been a lot of mismanagement and politically expedient design decisions that have significantly inflated the budget. So while we should continue to fund and work on this project, we also need to use it as a case study for what can go wrong with large projects and try to improve the process for the next segments. Pretending that all the very real problems are just conspiracies or political attacks is not helpful.

It's worth noting that a cost overrun of this scale is not at all unusual for a major infrastructure project. Britain's HS2 increased in estimated costs from £37.5 billion in 2009 to over £100 billion before significant portions of the project were cut earlier this year.

Nor are non-English speaking countries immune. France's Turin–Lyon high speed rail line estimated costs have increased from €12 billion in 2002 to €25 billion in 2012. The latter cost estimate was legally capped in 2015, meaning if it's breached it would throw the entire project in jeopardy, so essentially everyone has agreed for the past decade not to do any more cost estimates...

Even China isn't able to avoid overruns. Indonesia's first HSR line, built by China, saw the eventual increases from $4.5 billion in 2015 to $7.3 billion when it opened in August (after some negotiations, China and Indonesia agreed to say the overrun was only $1.2 billion for the purposes of Indonesia paying back its loans to China).

All of which is to say is that engineering is hard and there aren't easy ways around it.

lrt's friend Jan 2, 2024 8:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 10111737)
It's worth noting that a cost overrun of this scale is not at all unusual for a major infrastructure project. Britain's HS2 increased in estimated costs from £37.5 billion in 2009 to over £100 billion before significant portions of the project were cut earlier this year.

Nor are non-English speaking countries immune. France's Turin–Lyon high speed rail line estimated costs have increased from €12 billion in 2002 to €25 billion in 2012. The latter cost estimate was legally capped in 2015, meaning if it's breached it would throw the entire project in jeopardy, so essentially everyone has agreed for the past decade not to do any more cost estimates...

Even China isn't able to avoid overruns. Indonesia's first HSR line, built by China, saw the eventual increases from $4.5 billion in 2015 to $7.3 billion when it opened in August (after some negotiations, China and Indonesia agreed to say the overrun was only $1.2 billion for the purposes of Indonesia paying back its loans to China).

All of which is to say is that engineering is hard and there aren't easy ways around it.

Do highway projects also escalate in cost? Or are they more immune since we are building highways all the time and have a better handle on costs.

The positive is that once rail projects are built, we have permanent new infrastructure. It is too bad that rail improvement had little investment between 1950 and 1990, but that was a product of highways being public and rail being private and the railways only saw investment in freight as beneficial to them, until Brightline anyways. At least now, we are finally realizing the benefit of public rail projects.

FromSD Jan 2, 2024 8:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by electricron (Post 10103310)
True, costs will rise as this project gets delayed. The question we must ask is WHY it got delayed. They promised that further studies were not needed, that further designs were not needed, and that further taxes were not needed. They lied on all three promises. 25% of the eco taxes was added, more studies and more designs are continuously being done, and 14 years later, are still being done.

Who promised that? How could further studies (including environmental) not have been needed when the detailed design had not even been started when the bond issue was on the ballot? And I'm assuming that detailed design had not started by 2008 because detailed design is expensive, and there was no money to pay for it before the bond issue passed.

If anything, work on HSR started too soon. One of the major hiccups in the process was that contractors got the go ahead to start work before all the land for the proposed route in the Central Valley had even been acquired. This was due in part to CA HSR having received money from the Obama stimulus and so there were time constraints--"shovel ready projects."

I think the most serious flaw of the CA HSR project was the original bond proposition itself. I didn't believe the cost estimates. I thought the deviation through the Antelope Valley didn't make sense. And I still don't think that HSR will be able to operate--as the bond proposition promised--without public subsidy. I didn't believe the claims that private investors would bankroll the major proportion of the remaining construction costs. That being said, steady progress is being made on the Central Valley segment month by month. Is it quick progress? No, because the state legislature releases money in dribs and drabs. In 2022, more money was being spent, and more labor was being expended, to widen the San Diego Freeway through North Orange County than was being spent on HSR. And Republicans always point to HSR as the state's biggest financial boondoggle, but that's not true because over the course of 15 years the state really hasn't devoted substantial resources to it.

As for the complaint that the no new taxes claim was untrue: in the context of the original proposition that is a true statement. The bond issue required no tax increases. The bond issue is to be repaid from the state's general revenues. California voters are quite willing to approve bond issues if no new taxes are required. They are happy to ignore that there is still a hit to the state budget when the bonds are repaid.

jmecklenborg Jan 3, 2024 5:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lrt's friend (Post 10112398)
Do highway projects also escalate in cost? Or are they more immune since we are building highways all the time and have a better handle on costs.


Basic rural highways are pretty easy to predict, but we aren't building many all-new highways anymore. It's mostly incremental improvements, which means there isn't much land acquisition. Also, a rail transit project, by default, includes the costs of the trains themselves. Also signaling, training the staff, maintenance facilities, etc. When we estimate the cost of a highway, we don't include the cost of the cars, the gas stations that fuel them, the insurance of the cars, etc. The public highways do not pay property tax but for-profit railroads do.

The Big Dig, obviously, was very complex and had many significant overruns.

Will O' Wisp Jan 3, 2024 8:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lrt's friend (Post 10112398)
Do highway projects also escalate in cost? Or are they more immune since we are building highways all the time and have a better handle on costs.

The positive is that once rail projects are built, we have permanent new infrastructure. It is too bad that rail improvement had little investment between 1950 and 1990, but that was a product of highways being public and rail being private and the railways only saw investment in freight as beneficial to them, until Brightline anyways. At least now, we are finally realizing the benefit of public rail projects.

Highway projects do escalate in cost, but in general not as much as rail.

Here's a chart, sourced from The Cost-Benefit Fallacy, a sort of sequel to the seminal Megaprojects and Risk:

https://i.imgur.com/B1RHkvE.png

Benefit overrun is a comparison of first-year usage estimates vs actuals. For rail, this is predicted first-year ridership vs actual.

First-year benefits are not always the best metric, usage rates can rise significantly over time, but usage rates for subsequent years can often be difficult to source. You'll note even a first-year usage comparison can only be obtained for a minority of projects.

As you can see, rail projects have an average cost overrun of 40% and an average of 44% less ridership in the first year than predicted. Road projects by comparison stand at 24% and 4%, respectively.

There's no one reason for why this happens. Here are some factors I've seen:

-Your typical road project is smaller than your typical rail project. Road projects encompass everything from two lane non-subgraded country roads to miles long 8+ lane concrete viaducts, and there's a whole lot more of the former than the latter. Plus, you don't need to buy trainsets or wire up high voltage lines along a roadway, but typically do with a new railway. There's a less complexity with smaller projects, less potential unknown factors, so the estimates tend to be better.

-Road projects can be more flexible in their capacity than rail projects. Rail infrastructure has an extremely high base cost, so while a road project can switch between a 6 lane highway and a 4 lane greenway to match predicted usage, a passenger rail project typically requires double tracking. In short, there's a lot of ways to build a road, but only one or two to build a railway, and all of them tend to be on the bigger side. That sometimes leaves you with the only options being either overbuilding your new rail line, or not building it at all.

-Road projects are easier in the design and construction. Cars can travel up and down far higher grades than railed vehicles, and make much tighter turns. That means less earthmoving and digging (almost always the most lengthy part of any transportation project), and more flexibility on location. It's just easier with a road make a swerve and a sensitive area, rather than getting bogged down by public protests or lawsuits.

-Not to put too fine a point on it, but the benefits of rail projects to their supporters often fall outside of a cost/benefit ratio. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, lower air pollution, better social equity, better city character, some of the biggest advantages of rail transit projects fall outside a simple measure of ridership vs cost. But that's a problem because public funding's availability usually is defined by this measure. That leaves a lot of incentive for political organizers to encourage, or at least look the other way when an consultant submits unrealistic estimates for cost or ridership.

On the last point, as you can see from the chart most major infrastructure projects use sweetheart statistics to some extent. There's just a little more incentive with rail, because without goosing those the cost vs ridership stats a bit you'd always see rail losing out in the funding game to roads. Which is pretty much what happened in the mid-20th century USA, back when those in power cared a lot less about intangible benefits and so saw little reason to give rail the leg up it often needs.

Busy Bee Jan 3, 2024 9:17 PM

A big dollop of horse shit "reason" from Wendell Cox in the WSJ:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/bidens-...oject-6e7045a1

electricron Jan 3, 2024 9:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FromSD (Post 10112424)
Who promised that? How could further studies (including environmental) not have been needed when the detailed design had not even been started when the bond issue was on the ballot? .

Per
https://web.archive.org/web/20130413...u-rebutt1a.htm

Specifically
Proposition 1A will protect taxpayer interests.
Public oversight and detailed independent review of financing plans.
Matching private and federal funding to be identified BEFORE state bond funds are spent.
90% of the bond funds to be spent on system construction, not more studies, plans, and engineering activities.

Bond financing to be available to every part of the state.
The most cost-efficient construction segments to have the highest priority.

Falshood #1 No private matching funds found to date, yet bonds were sold and spent.
Falsehood #2 No more studies, plans, and engineering activities.
$8 Billion in State bonds, somehow it is hard to believe they have not spent more than $800 million on more studies, more plans, and more engineering activities.

FromSD Jan 3, 2024 11:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by electricron (Post 10113173)
Per
https://web.archive.org/web/20130413...u-rebutt1a.htm


90% of the bond funds to be spent on system construction, not more studies, plans, and engineering activities.[/U]

But that isn't a promise that no further design or preparation work would be required, just that the Prop 1A bond money would not be spent on those activities. CAHSR has other funding available to it (state cap and trade revenues, federal stimulus revenues), so it actually isn't clear to me that the 10% promise wasn't fulfilled.

But this is just a bookkeeping quibble. I wouldn't argue with your view that the original proposition was misleading. I do disagree with your implication that the project shouldn't have needed additional studies and design work, and that the months and years taken to perform those functions count as a ding against the project.

I do understand, though, why Prop. 1A promised almost all the bond funds for construction. Voters want to see their tax money going for concrete, rails and trains, ignoring all the other things that go into developing a rail system. Engineering is much less sexy than concrete.

202_Cyclist Jan 30, 2024 5:12 PM

Brightline West conducts fieldwork in California ahead of high-speed rail groundbreaking

By Rene Ray De La Cruz
Victorville Daily Press
Jan. 29, 2024

"Brightline West launched field investigation work this week in Southern California in anticipation of a groundbreaking of its high-speed rail system between Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga.

The fieldwork, for the proposed rail corridor within the Interstate 15 right-of-way, will advance the final stages of design in preparation for a groundbreaking, Brightline West told the Daily Press.

Field work also began earlier this month in Nevada for what Brightline West officials call “America’s first true high-speed rail system..."

https://www.vvdailypress.com/story/n...g/72372501007/

tech12 Jan 30, 2024 8:57 PM

“America’s first true high-speed rail system..."

lol

Are people just going to keep pretending that CA HSR doesn't exist?

LAsam Jan 30, 2024 9:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tech12 (Post 10132144)
“America’s first true high-speed rail system..."

lol

Are people just going to keep pretending that CA HSR doesn't exist?

When is the first phase of CA HSR supposed to open? Perhaps Brightline West merely plan to commence operations sooner.

SoCalKid Jan 30, 2024 10:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tech12 (Post 10132144)
“America’s first true high-speed rail system..."

lol

Are people just going to keep pretending that CA HSR doesn't exist?

I think they mean it will be the first true high speed rail system to open/operate. That's likely to be true if they break ground in the next year or so.

Busy Bee Jan 30, 2024 11:21 PM

Obviously I'll take it, but to have our first true high speed rail line be one that hitches a ride in the median of a highway, is largely single tracked and pushes the limits of high speed rail tech and operations well outside international norms by purposefully avoiding arguably necessary earthworks and tunneling to save private capital is THE most American thing I've ever heard. And that's before you mention it's being built to funnel tourists to THE most vulgar den of vice and greed ever conjured by modern man.

Call me petty but I almost want there to be some delays that pushes Brightline's opening after the CHSR IOS.

202_Cyclist Feb 9, 2024 1:47 AM

The LA Times has a good article looking at the construction of California's high-speed rail, focusing on the changes and impacts in Fresno. It wasn't written by Ralph Vartabedian, so it isn't a hit piece against the project.

The Republicans in Congress would prefer that thousands of people be unemployed instead of creating good American jobs by investing in modern, efficient, transportation.

High-speed rail is coming to the Central Valley. Residents see a new life in the fast lane


By Melissa Gomez
LA Times
Feb. 8, 2024

"FRESNO, Calif. — The piling rig was in position, ready to drive a concrete pillar 40 feet into the ground. Just beyond the rig on this winter afternoon, trucks and cars continued streaming down State Road 198 in Hanford, separated from the construction site by white dividers.
Then, the pile-driving began. Foot by foot, the rig’s hammer slammed the pillar into the ground with the rhythmic beat of a metronome. With every blow, the ground shook and exhaust spewed. The beam would be one more in a network of pillars pounded deep into the earth to create the foundation for a high-speed rail line that in a matter of years will glide along tracks above the state highway, launching a new era in California’s Central Valley.

From earth-moving equipment to heavy trucks ferrying massive beams and bulldozers clearing piles of debris, construction related to California’s high-speed rail project is evident across the San Joaquin Valley. Farther north, crews worked atop a viaduct that will carry the high-speed line above existing freight tracks that cut across the state north to south. And in Fresno’s Chinatown, restaurant and retail owners eagerly served a steady influx of construction workers, engineers and electricians, part of a broader transformation of the city’s downtown and economic prospects..."

https://www.latimes.com/california/s...ction-progress

homebucket Mar 1, 2024 6:58 PM

Quote:

CA High-Speed Rail Authority Reveals Plans For Central Valley Stations

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...rs-777x436.jpg

BY: ANDREW NELSON 5:30 AM ON MARCH 1, 2024

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority has revealed detailed plans for four stations along the Central Valley segment. While High-Speed Rail remains a distant prospect for the Bay Area, construction on the 171-mile portion winding through the San Joaquin Valley shows steady progress. Previous statements by the Governor suggest that work connecting the Bay Area with the central line will not start until after the Central Valley tracks begin operating in the 2030s.

Foster + Partners and ARUP are responsible for the design and engineering. The canopy for all four locations is nearly identical, providing a recognizable architectural vernacular to be shared across the region. Beyond that, distinct treatment has been given for each of the concourses and main entrances. The Merced station is particularly noteworthy, where the grand stairwells will be bookmarked by large cobblestone walls capped by open wood roofing.

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

The four station plans shared include Merced, Fresno, Kings/Tulare, and Bakersfield. Each station will have an 80 to 90-foot-tall metal canopy covering the superstructures. Three stations will have raised platforms where riders board the trains, with Fresno as the outlier. Kings/Tulare and Bakersfield will have their entire station and concourse beneath the platform. In Merced, the station will be immediately next to 15th Street, while an elevated walkway over ACE and freight train tracks will connect to additional waiting space and bus depot functions along 16th Street.
https://sfyimby.com/2024/03/ca-high-...-stations.html

homebucket Mar 1, 2024 7:03 PM

And the renderings from North to South:

Merced
https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

Fresno
https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

Kings/Tulare
https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

Bakersfield
https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg

https://sfyimby.com/2024/03/ca-high-...-stations.html

Busy Bee Mar 1, 2024 7:17 PM

Saw these yesterday when they were posted on YIMBY... A couple observations... I do like them but I'm leery of rustic elements like the stone being used in the architecture for this program. It looks a bit too much Yosemite lodge when a bullet train station should feel more sci-fi/ultramodern IMO. I'm not sold on that scaffold-style standalone signage on the roof, set in all caps or otherwise. I think station names on the reverse of a central wall of glass like you see quite a bit of in Europe would be more attractive. I'm also a bit skeptical of those massively tall flights of stairs. Even assuming the escalators are always working, there doesn't appear to be any refuge levels. It would be like ascending and descending an Aztec temple.

LosAngelesSportsFan Mar 1, 2024 7:56 PM

Looks good to me! Im sure it will be refined before implementation but i like the direction

homebucket Mar 1, 2024 8:26 PM

The stairs do look pretty daunting.

plinko Mar 1, 2024 9:20 PM

^It's a rendering guys. California Building Code requires a landing every 12 vertical feet.

Busy Bee Mar 1, 2024 9:40 PM

^Kinda seems like a rendering that has been released to the public after design services contracts have been awarded and design is no doubt above 0% should not be showing obvious elements that would never show up/be allowed in the final design.

My .02

TWAK Mar 1, 2024 11:24 PM

from the article:
https://sfyimby.com/wp-content/uploa...r-Partners.jpg
That's two regional connections for Merced station, not bad. Fresno's downtown station is on a different rail ROW and I think that's the same for Bakersfield.

craigs Mar 2, 2024 2:17 AM

Today's Los Angeles Times has a great article about the planned high-speed rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas. It appears likely that this line will open before CAHSR and thus become the nation's first true high-speed railroad. They are aiming to have it open by the 2028 Olympics.

Illithid Dude Mar 3, 2024 2:59 AM

Personally speaking I think these all look fantastic.

homebucket Mar 13, 2024 5:15 PM

:skull:

Quote:

California bullet train project needs another $100 billion to complete route from San Francisco to Los Angeles
Updated: 7:43 AM PDT Mar 13, 2024
Ashley Zavala

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As the state faces economic headwinds, California's mega high-speed rail project between San Francisco to Los Angeles also faces major funding hurdles, the project's CEO Brian Kelly told state lawmakers Tuesday.

Kelly testified in front of the State Senate's Transportation Committee on the High-Speed Rail Authority's updated draft business plan. In Tuesday's hearing, Kelly told lawmakers the project has $28 billion dollars on hand, but noted it was still a few billion dollars short to complete the Central Valley segment between Merced and Bakersfield. Depending on how long the segment takes to finish, it could cost between $32 Billion to $35 Billion. Kelly said the project is hoping to fill the gap with federal funds. That segment of the project is expected to be fully operational between 2030 and 2033, Kelly said.

Project leaders estimate it will still need an additional $100 billion to finish what voters were originally pitched in 2008: a bullet train that runs between San Francisco and Los Angeles. A timeline on its completion has not been set as the authority waits for environmental clearances for those segments.
https://www.kcra.com/article/califor...geles/60181448

LAsam Mar 13, 2024 6:16 PM

And if they say $100B, it will probably end up higher than that.


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