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-   -   California High Speed Rail Thread (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=180558)

Crawford Dec 28, 2018 4:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 8420057)
While I can see your logic relating to cost of living, I think you fail to appreciate just how stupidly expensive the SF housing market is. My sister lives in downtown SF and pays $1900 a month to rent a room the size of a largeish closet in an apartment with 4 other gals. A good friend of mine spends $2400 a month to rent a studio in San Mateo and spends 30+ minutes commuting everyday to work. Both consider themselves to be getting a deal as well.

Each could easily move to Merced or Fresno, buy a $150K house, and spend $1000 a month for the HSR to their jobs in SF, and still come out financially ahead of their current situations. Especially my poor buddy in San Mateo, he could afford the mortgage payments on a $250K house in Merced ($1,182 a month @ 3.92%) plus the $1000 for the HSR and still be saving $200 a month. After the tunnel to the transbay finishes he'd even have a similar commute time to boot!

This is why no one is pushing harder for HSR than SF, they have the most to gain.

No one is going to be doing this. If it were feasible it would be happening somewhere on the planet with HSR, and it isn't.

This is intercity rail, not commuter rail. The scheduling and pricing (assuming this is completed) will be for intercity passengers, not some poor schlub wasting all his money and time ultracommuting. It also makes no sense because HSR trains are almost always at capacity, so why would commuters stuff into them at the tail end (also annoying the base ridership)?

Also, and no offense to Central Valley residents, but much of inland CA is not gonna be appealing to someone who would otherwise live in SF or Silicon Valley, even if you gave everyone a personal helicopter. You think if they built, say, maglev, to Scranton, PA, that NYC professionals would move there? These areas are cheap for a reason.

jmecklenborg Dec 28, 2018 5:38 AM

^This thing is going to give Californians the option to take a state-of-the-art, amazingly comfortable train to out-of-town meetings and to work on multi-week projects in other cities while coming home to their own bed instead of having to rent a hotel. There will be no airport hassle and the stations will be a lot closer to some people than their area's airport.

It's going to be fantastic. And all certain people can do is complain that somehow a rail line connecting 15~ million people to 6~ million people with 6~ million in the middle is going to struggle to attract riders.

Crawford Dec 28, 2018 7:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmecklenborg (Post 8420155)
^This thing is going to give Californians the option to take a state-of-the-art, amazingly comfortable train to out-of-town meetings and to work on multi-week projects in other cities while coming home to their own bed instead of having to rent a hotel. There will be no airport hassle and the stations will be a lot closer to some people than their area's airport.

It's going to be fantastic. And all certain people can do is complain that somehow a rail line connecting 15~ million people to 6~ million people with 6~ million in the middle is going to struggle to attract riders.

Nothing you wrote has any relevance to my post. I was talking HSR as a commuter option, which is nonsense.

I also think your post is pretty silly, but for different reasons. You're basically saying "this is gonna work because I said so and there are tons of people in CA" without offering any underlying reasoning.

LA has 19 million people, megabillions in new rail, and basically irrelevant heavy rail ridership. And overall transit ridership is declining, even as the population and transit infrastructure grows. There's no reason to think that HSR will work simply because you have a large population or huge investments.

numble Dec 28, 2018 8:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8420192)
Nothing you wrote has any relevance to my post. I was talking HSR as a commuter option, which is nonsense.

I also think your post is pretty silly, but for different reasons. You're basically saying "this is gonna work because I said so and there are tons of people in CA" without offering any underlying reasoning.

LA has 19 million people, megabillions in new rail, and basically irrelevant heavy rail ridership. And overall transit ridership is declining, even as the population and transit infrastructure grows. There's no reason to think that HSR will work simply because you have a large population or huge investments.

How many billions of the megabillions in new rail has gone online? Of the megabillions from Measures R and M, only the 11.5 mile Foothill Gold Line ($735 million) and 6.6 mile Expo Line extension ($1.5 billion) have opened (in 2016). Expo Line is at 62,935 daily riders in November 2018 versus 30,830 daily riders in November 2015; Gold Line is at 51,673 daily riders in November 2018 versus 46,520 daily riders in November 2015.

BrownTown Dec 28, 2018 2:07 PM

I'll just put it this way:

Whether people will be doing supercommutes on HSR will be entirely based on pricing and IMO if the pricing incentives it then I think that's a mistake. Especially because there aren't going to be any express tracks between SJ and SF so there's going to be a significant bottleneck.

Unrelated: I really have no sympathy for anyone paying sky high rents. They choose to live there so either they're stupid or they've decided they're getting enough in return for living there to justify it.

jmecklenborg Dec 28, 2018 7:44 PM

[QUOTE=Crawford;8420192] You're basically saying "this is gonna work because I said so and there are tons of people in CA" without offering any underlying reasoning. QUOTE]


You're basically saying "this isn't gonna work because I said so...".

jmecklenborg Dec 28, 2018 7:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8420192)
You're basically saying "this is gonna work because I said so and there are tons of people in CA" without offering any underlying reasoning.


You're basically saying "this isn't gonna work because I said so...".

BrownTown Dec 28, 2018 8:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmecklenborg (Post 8420537)
You're basically saying "this isn't gonna work because I said so...".

Well that and the fact it's like $40 Billion over budget despite being like 2% complete.

Busy Bee Dec 28, 2018 8:52 PM

^ You could not have better distilled a bad faith argument down to a shorter sentence.

lrt's friend Dec 28, 2018 9:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8420192)
Nothing you wrote has any relevance to my post. I was talking HSR as a commuter option, which is nonsense.

I also think your post is pretty silly, but for different reasons. You're basically saying "this is gonna work because I said so and there are tons of people in CA" without offering any underlying reasoning.

LA has 19 million people, megabillions in new rail, and basically irrelevant heavy rail ridership. And overall transit ridership is declining, even as the population and transit infrastructure grows. There's no reason to think that HSR will work simply because you have a large population or huge investments.

When intercity rail travel times become competitive with the airlines and without the security hassles and are faster than travelling by car, do you really think people will not switch to rail? There is an enormous market and when you add in comfort and being able to accomplish things while on the train (whether pleasure or business), then how could that enormous market not shift at least somewhat towards rail?

lrt's friend Dec 28, 2018 9:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrownTown (Post 8420578)
Well that and the fact it's like $40 Billion over budget despite being like 2% complete.

Have they spent $40B yet?

DJM19 Dec 28, 2018 10:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrownTown (Post 8420578)
Well that and the fact it's like $40 Billion over budget despite being like 2% complete.

Cant really compare an actual amount of work with an estimate cost overrun. That is definitely a prescription for dramatic hyperbole.

jmecklenborg Dec 28, 2018 10:30 PM

Military projects go massively over-budget all the time. The Tea Party and internet concern trolls don't ever march on the Pentagon.

BrownTown Dec 29, 2018 12:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DJM19 (Post 8420663)
Cant really compare an actual amount of work with an estimate cost overrun. That is definitely a prescription for dramatic hyperbole.

Well, you definitely CAN do it. Sure, if someone makes a linear extrapolation off that data then they are an idiot, but it does very effectively show just how massive of a boondoggle this is. No sane person would ever expect that amount over budget to go down given how spectacularly bad the project has done so far. Indeed anyone who follows these sort of projects will surely know that number will continue to march upwards until this project is either complete (unlikely) or canceled.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmecklenborg (Post 8420671)
Military projects go massively over-budget all the time. The Tea Party and internet concern trolls don't ever march on the Pentagon.

Don't be ridiculous, the military budget and cost overruns are CONSTANTLY attacked. They're probably the single most attacked source of government spending there is.

dubu Dec 29, 2018 1:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrownTown (Post 8420749)
Well, you definitely CAN do it. Sure, if someone makes a linear extrapolation off that data then they are an idiot, but it does very effectively show just how massive of a boondoggle this is. No sane person would ever expect that amount over budget to go down given how spectacularly bad the project has done so far. Indeed anyone who follows these sort of projects will surely know that number will continue to march upwards until this project is either complete (unlikely) or canceled.


Don't be ridiculous, the military budget and cost overruns are CONSTANTLY attacked. They're probably the single most attacked source of government spending there is.

so we should all start pretending they arnt using all this money?

ardecila Dec 29, 2018 2:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmecklenborg (Post 8420537)
You're basically saying "this isn't gonna work because I said so...".

I'm sure HSR will be successful in CA, IF it is run competently in line with systems in other developed nations - (a big if, considering Amtrak).

But yeah, I just don't see this being a commuter system. For most people, the advantages of living (not just working) in a major metropolis are significant.

Also, because of the blended system on the Peninsula, HSR trips from Gilroy to Transbay probably won't be significantly faster than express Caltrain trips from Gilroy to Transbay. The next closest stop on HSR, Merced, will definitely be a longer trip than Caltrain to Gilroy. So the travel times favor continual suburban expansion in the Santa Clara Valley, rather than supercommuting from the Central Valley.

Will O' Wisp Dec 29, 2018 6:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 8420804)
I'm sure HSR will be successful in CA, IF it is run competently in line with systems in other developed nations - (a big if, considering Amtrak).

But yeah, I just don't see this being a commuter system. For most people, the advantages of living (not just working) in a major metropolis are significant.

Also, because of the blended system on the Peninsula, HSR trips from Gilroy to Transbay probably won't be significantly faster than express Caltrain trips from Gilroy to Transbay. The next closest stop on HSR, Merced, will definitely be a longer trip than Caltrain to Gilroy. So the travel times favor continual suburban expansion in the Santa Clara Valley, rather than supercommuting from the Central Valley.

The fastest baby bullet express currently makes 5 stops between Gilroy and SF (and doesn't stop in Gilroy). CAHSR will make 2 stops. So unless Caltrain decides to introduce an ultra-super limited service CAHSR will be faster than Caltrain in the corridor.

People I know living in the bay area have said to me that it feels completely impossible to raise a child without leaving, even dual incomes of $100K+ don't buy you an enough space to comfortably fit a family. Being able to afford that while still being able to maintain your career in SF would certainly interest some people. But the price and the commute times would have to be right, and it's hard to know exactly how many would actually use it.

One thing's for certain though, SF is heavily invested in this project. When it's
all said and done they'll have spent over 6 billion dollars building a new station in downtown SF and a tunnel to connect it to the shared corridor. Even now CAHSR is polling around 75% support in the bay area, which is higher than any other region. So clearly San Franciscan's believe they'll get some use out of it.

jmecklenborg Dec 29, 2018 9:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrownTown (Post 8420749)
Don't be ridiculous, the military budget and cost overruns are CONSTANTLY attacked.

We're really trolling now, aren't we?

Since Reagan, the "common sense" conservatives have obsessed over food stamps, welfare, the post office, the National Endowment for the Arts, Amtrak, and other non-issues.

Not once has a troop of boomer Tea Partiers driven to a military base and demanded its closure to save money. Not once have they marched on a factory building tanks or missiles or the Navy yards in Virginia when the keel is laid for yet another aircraft carrier. Never once did they drive their SUV's to the state DOT and demand a halt to road projects.

electricron Dec 29, 2018 2:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmecklenborg (Post 8420995)
We're really trolling now, aren't we?

Since Reagan, the "common sense" conservatives have obsessed over food stamps, welfare, the post office, the National Endowment for the Arts, Amtrak, and other non-issues.

Not once has a troop of boomer Tea Partiers driven to a military base and demanded its closure to save money. Not once have they marched on a factory building tanks or missiles or the Navy yards in Virginia when the keel is laid for yet another aircraft carrier. Never once did they drive their SUV's to the state DOT and demand a halt to road projects.

True, but when was the last time you saw a Democrat not cut Defense funding and bases, not steal from the Highway Trust Fund to fund transit, not advocate for large increases in food stamps and other welfare programs, and not try to kill entire industries and the jobs they create over a pesky environmental issue, like an unheard of snail, pesky insect, or false pollutant (CO2).

I don't mind increasing funding for transit, but make the transit users pay that tax to fund it. When governments decided to build highways they created a tax to fund it - the fuel taxes we pay at the pump. When governments decided to support flying in every form, the invented a tax to fund it that airlines and its passengers ultimately pay, be it a head tax, parking fees, or other user fees. The Social Security retiree pension system is funded by taxes from active workers - in a ponzi like scheme.
But eventually, everything the government does is funded fully or in part from the general fund, the majority of the funds collected from income taxes.

The main differences between conservatives and liberals is where they wish to see their tax money spent upon. Neither likes to see money spent on things they do not approve, and both like to see the money spent on things the do approve. Neither the rich nor the poor like to see their taxes increased. So get off your high horse, and take a long reflected look from the other sides point of view of the issues at hand. Their views are just as valid as yours - because when it comes to increasing taxes it is the same!

And for one more correction about highways - you will not see many conservatives wishing for higher gas taxes. Just look at how the French in yellow vest are reacting to higher fuel taxes - those were not just liberals manning the barricades. Both liberals and conservatives dislike being uprooted from their homes and businesses to make way for a new highway, seaway, airway, or transit-way.

BrownTown Dec 29, 2018 2:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmecklenborg (Post 8420995)
We're really trolling now, aren't we?

Since Reagan, the "common sense" conservatives have obsessed over food stamps, welfare, the post office, the National Endowment for the Arts, Amtrak, and other non-issues.

Not once has a troop of boomer Tea Partiers driven to a military base and demanded its closure to save money. Not once have they marched on a factory building tanks or missiles or the Navy yards in Virginia when the keel is laid for yet another aircraft carrier. Never once did they drive their SUV's to the state DOT and demand a halt to road projects.

You do know the whole US isn't made up of only Conservatives right? There's a whole other party of people and the vast majority of them want to cut spending on the military and are quite vocal about it. Stop making it out like nobody ever questions military spending. Not that this fact has anything to do with the topic at hand. Whether or not CAHSR is a good investment is completely independent of whether or not the F-35 is. Personally I think they are both shitty investments but you're more than welcome to disagree. What you can't do is get upset any time someone mentions all the delays and cost overruns because these are simple facts and if you're not willing to accept them and accept that it's a reasonable position to be upset about them then you're not really worth talking to.

Crawford Dec 29, 2018 3:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 8420933)
People I know living in the bay area have said to me that it feels completely impossible to raise a child without leaving, even dual incomes of $100K+ don't buy you an enough space to comfortably fit a family. Being able to afford that while still being able to maintain your career in SF would certainly interest some people. But the price and the commute times would have to be right, and it's hard to know exactly how many would actually use it.

I would not bet on this project being completed.

That said, assuming it's completed, and assuming it's a success, I don't see why it would increase affordability within the Bay Area. The region would obviously be more expensive if it had a highly successful, high capacity rail corridor, as opposed to the current scenario, where SF proper has no intercity rail, and commuter rail is a limited diesel line that doesn't even go to the downtown core.

I mean, that's like saying the NE Corridor would be more expensive if you removed the NE Corridor line. Obviously the corridor would be less desirable if you removed a vital transit link.

Also, affordability within the Bay Area is a bit different than in other high-cost metros. Typical high-cost metros have an expensive core and affordability generally rises as you head further out (NYC would be pretty typical). In contrast, SF city proper is arguably more affordable than the Peninsula, and relative affordability is more a function of access to Silicon Valley major HQ. This means that relative affordability isn't an issue for most SF-bound Caltrain commuters, unlike most suburban rail commuters around the world.

ardecila Dec 29, 2018 3:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 8420933)
The fastest baby bullet express currently makes 5 stops between Gilroy and SF (and doesn't stop in Gilroy). CAHSR will make 2 stops. So unless Caltrain decides to introduce an ultra-super limited service CAHSR will be faster than Caltrain in the corridor.

Yes, but not significantly faster. The dwell time for Caltrain will be greatly reduced once the new electric fleet is running and high platforms are installed, so the stopping penalty will not be as dramatic as it is today with diesel trains and low platforms.

Plus, any train to Merced is likely going to stop in Gilroy as well (which is already part of the Bay Area commute shed). I’ll say again, this will not cause people to move to Merced so much as move to Gilroy and other Santa Clara Valley communities.

jmecklenborg Dec 30, 2018 8:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by electricron (Post 8421037)
So get off your high horse, and take a long reflected look from the other sides point of view of the issues at hand. Their views are just as valid as yours - because when it comes to increasing taxes it is the same!

Yeah dude I grew up in a hardcore Reagan household. Had numerous Republican relatives in local office. The one holding a state office ran on a "family values" platform and ended up getting arrested with a stripper.

Somehow the fact that major features of the rail line currently under construction in California will still be running in 100-200 years is lost on those who fancy themselves to be masters of finance. Almost innumerable 100+ year-old railroad bridges and tunnels are still in operation in Europe and the United States, with some approaching or surpassing 150 years in age with very little modification or regular maintenance.

A dozen or more high speed trains will roar through the Pacheco Pass tunnel each waking hour in the years 2100, 2200, and beyond. Same with the tunnels between Palmdale and Burbank. The cost of this system is a blip - like 1/20th - compared to Bush's Iraq misadventure.

The Chemist Dec 30, 2018 1:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8420114)
No one is going to be doing this. If it were feasible it would be happening somewhere on the planet with HSR, and it isn't.

I've heard of people living in Kunshan or Suzhou or Jiaxing (or even futher out like Wuxi or Changzhou) and commuting into Shanghai by HSR. It definitely happens here in China.

BrownTown Dec 30, 2018 10:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmecklenborg (Post 8421603)
Yeah dude I grew up in a hardcore Reagan household. Had numerous Republican relatives in local office. The one holding a state office ran on a "family values" platform and ended up getting arrested with a stripper.

Somehow the fact that major features of the rail line currently under construction in California will still be running in 100-200 years is lost on those who fancy themselves to be masters of finance. Almost innumerable 100+ year-old railroad bridges and tunnels are still in operation in Europe and the United States, with some approaching or surpassing 150 years in age with very little modification or regular maintenance.

A dozen or more high speed trains will roar through the Pacheco Pass tunnel each waking hour in the years 2100, 2200, and beyond. Same with the tunnels between Palmdale and Burbank. The cost of this system is a blip - like 1/20th - compared to Bush's Iraq misadventure.

Just from a purely technical point of view I find it incredibly unlikely much of this infrastructure will still be used in 2200. Even in 2100 it would be pretty unlikely but at least somewhat reasonable. Then again if you look at those global warming seal level rise maps it might get rendered useless by then once half the bay area is underwater.

Also whatever benefits may or may not exist in 2100 or 2200 they are essentially irrelevant in calculating the value of building this system today. The time value of money for 82 years or 182 years will make any contributions meaningless.

Crawford Dec 31, 2018 3:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Chemist (Post 8421641)
I've heard of people living in Kunshan or Suzhou or Jiaxing (or even futher out like Wuxi or Changzhou) and commuting into Shanghai by HSR. It definitely happens here in China.

I'm sorry, I don't believe it. I would like to show data indicating that Chinese HSR has heavy commuting share.

And of course there are anecdotes. I know an Acela commuter from Philly. But there is no appreciable intercity commuter share; it's way too difficult.

electricron Dec 31, 2018 4:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Chemist
I've heard of people living in Kunshan or Suzhou or Jiaxing (or even futher out like Wuxi or Changzhou) and commuting into Shanghai by HSR. It definitely happens here in China.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford
I'm sorry, I don't believe it. I would like to show data indicating that Chinese HSR has heavy commuting share.
And of course there are anecdotes. I know an Acela commuter from Philly. But there is no appreciable intercity commuter share; it's way too difficult.

Some data for comparison sake:
Albany to New York City = 141 rail miles
Philadelphia to New York City = 91 rail miles
New Haven to New York City = 72 rail miles
Kunshan to Shanghai = 38.5 miles
Suzhou to Shanghai = 65 miles
Jiaxing to Shanghai = 61 miles
Wuxi to Shanghai = 83 miles
Changzhou to Shanghai = 113 miles
Golly, I am not surprised if there were commuters traveling 38 miles by train, you wouldn't even need HSR for it to be viable.

R@ptor Dec 31, 2018 4:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8422048)
I'm sorry, I don't believe it. I would like to show data indicating that Chinese HSR has heavy commuting share.

And of course there are anecdotes. I know an Acela commuter from Philly. But there is no appreciable intercity commuter share; it's way too difficult.

It is actually VERY commonplace in Germany and France to commute with HSR.

Probably a quarter of the people I work with commute to Frankfurt by HSR (particularly from Mannheim (35min), Fulda (55min), Cologne (70min) and Düsseldorf (85min))

jmecklenborg Dec 31, 2018 5:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrownTown (Post 8421879)
Just from a purely technical point of view I find it incredibly unlikely much of this infrastructure will still be used in 2200. Even in 2100 it would be pretty unlikely but at least somewhat reasonable.


So CAHSR is a future rails-to-trails?



Quote:

Originally Posted by BrownTown (Post 8421879)
The time value of money for 82 years or 182 years will make any contributions meaningless.


Somebody took a business class in college and wants everyone to know it.

urban_encounter Jan 2, 2019 12:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmecklenborg (Post 8422358)
So CAHSR is a future rails-to-trails?

Depending on how much of the phase 1 HSR system is completed it might at the very least serve as an effective high(er) speed commuter rail from the San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area. The southern Central Valley has always underperformed economically academically compared to the rest of the state (coastal) & Sacramento.

Hopefully high speed rail will pump some economic hope into the San Joaquin Valley in time.

Will O' Wisp Jan 2, 2019 6:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by urban_encounter (Post 8423325)
Depending on how much of the phase 1 HSR system is completed it might at the very least serve as an effective high(er) speed commuter rail from the San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area. The southern Central Valley has always underperformed economically academically compared to the rest of the state (coastal) & Sacramento.

Hopefully high speed rail will pump some economic hope into the San Joaquin Valley in time.

If you ask me, the most likely situation to come out of this is: the central valley segment finishing up around 2022 as scheduled. Even if it breaches the grant agreements on the 2022 deadline or on overruns all the fed will do is release a strongly worded report. After the EIR comes out for the Pacheco Pass segment the lawmakers up in Sacramento will hem and haw over costs but eventually okay the funding rather than be ridiculed over the project's complete and utter failure.

When the Tehachapi Pass segment EIR releases though it will be DOA, no lawmaker will be willing to face the waiting controversy. The SF to Bakersfield route will open up in the late 2020s, there might be an extension to Palmdale soon after, but that will pretty much be it for the next 10 or so years. After a rough few years in the beginning HSR will go on to moderate success, managing to cover its overhead but not leaving anything for further expansion. Sometime in the 2030s or 40s Angelinos will probably start getting mighty frustrated at seeing their promised HSR line stopping short in the high desert, and they'll be a renewed push to complete the Tehachapi Pass segment. It's tricky to predict what politics will be like 10+ years in the future but I'd put my money on a full SF to LA route opening around 2050-ish. HSR settles into its place within the overall transportation network, not quite the game changer it might have been but a valuable piece of infrastructure nonetheless.

The Sacramento and San Diego extensions will probably never be seriously contemplated, and end up forgotten by everyone other than future generations of transit fanatics pinning over what might have been. Best case scenario if/when the LOSSAN corridor gets electrified Amtrack will get replaced by HSR.

jmecklenborg Jan 2, 2019 10:00 AM

^The Democrats will likely regain control of the Senate and the White House in 2020, which will mean a return to the federal government funding intercity passenger rail improvements as it did during Obama's first two years, which is where the big stimulus grant originated, along with the money that appeared in 2011-12 after having been rejected by tea party governors in Ohio and Wisconsin in 2010-11.

The Phase 2 extension to Sacramento would be about 115 miles, which roughly what is under construction currently in the Central Valley. The whole thing might cost less than the 13-mile Pacheco Pass tunnel.

The wye is being built as part of Phase 1, including a station at Merced. This means an incremental extension of this spur will be possible, such as a 35-mile extension to Modesto, a second 25-mile extension to Stockton, and then a final 45-mile extension to Sacramento.

Look for CAHSR to leverage HSR to Las Vegas while building its case for funding the Palmdale-Burbank segment. The way to do this is to build a bistate coalition and have the Nevada legislature allocate money. It's probably illegal for Nevada to pay directly for something in California, but since Las Vegas needs LA much more than LA needs Las Vegas, and only 35~ miles of such a line would be within Nevada, they could devise a clever way for Las Vegas to pay for some of the construction in California, or do something like have Nevada pay for all of the rolling stock necessary for the line.

The Chemist Jan 2, 2019 11:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by electricron (Post 8422091)
Some data for comparison sake:
Albany to New York City = 141 rail miles
Philadelphia to New York City = 91 rail miles
New Haven to New York City = 72 rail miles
Kunshan to Shanghai = 38.5 miles
Suzhou to Shanghai = 65 miles
Jiaxing to Shanghai = 61 miles
Wuxi to Shanghai = 83 miles
Changzhou to Shanghai = 113 miles
Golly, I am not surprised if there were commuters traveling 38 miles by train, you wouldn't even need HSR for it to be viable.

And even at 113 miles from Changzhou to Shanghai, you can get there in only 45 minutes, and there's enough trains per day to make it totally convenient.

People in the US commute by car for much longer than that on a daily basis - why should anyone be surprised that people in other countries do long commutes by rail when it's available for similar reasons?

Sun Belt Jan 2, 2019 2:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8421053)
I would not bet on this project being completed.

That said, assuming it's completed, and assuming it's a success, I don't see why it would increase affordability within the Bay Area. The region would obviously be more expensive if it had a highly successful, high capacity rail corridor, as opposed to the current scenario, where SF proper has no intercity rail, and commuter rail is a limited diesel line that doesn't even go to the downtown core.

I mean, that's like saying the NE Corridor would be more expensive if you removed the NE Corridor line. Obviously the corridor would be less desirable if you removed a vital transit link.

Also, affordability within the Bay Area is a bit different than in other high-cost metros. Typical high-cost metros have an expensive core and affordability generally rises as you head further out (NYC would be pretty typical). In contrast, SF city proper is arguably more affordable than the Peninsula, and relative affordability is more a function of access to Silicon Valley major HQ. This means that relative affordability isn't an issue for most SF-bound Caltrain commuters, unlike most suburban rail commuters around the world.

I actually agree with Crawford here.

CAHSR is going to make affordable areas, less affordable. The end result: more sprawl in green field/agricultural lands in the Central Valley.

*Prices aren't going to drop in the Bay Area because of HSR. They'll drop for other reasons, like a Great Recession 2.0, or yet another tech crash type event, but not because of a train line.

Busy Bee Jan 2, 2019 3:02 PM

If the commuting possibilities of HSR make the central valley cities desirable bedroom communities, which is an "if" at this point, I think where you're going wrong is assuming the housing growth would come in the form of "suburban sprawl." I think a much more likely possibility is the housing growth comes predominantly in the form of high density multi-family TOD, within say a mile from the stations. Something we should all be happy to see happen.

homebucket Jan 2, 2019 4:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Chemist (Post 8423568)
And even at 113 miles from Changzhou to Shanghai, you can get there in only 45 minutes, and there's enough trains per day to make it totally convenient.

People in the US commute by car for much longer than that on a daily basis - why should anyone be surprised that people in other countries do long commutes by rail when it's available for similar reasons?

Agreed. The only limiting factor would be the ticket prices. I'm not sure how much it would cost to commute daily from say Merced to SF, but assuming it's around $100 round trip, that comes out to about $26,000/year. Sounds high, but for some people it may be worth it so they can afford a house in the Central Valley.

lrt's friend Jan 2, 2019 4:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 8423623)
If the commuting possibilities of HSR make the central valley cities desirable bedroom communities, which is an "if" at this point, I think where you're going wrong is assuming the housing growth would come in the form of "suburban sprawl." I think a much more likely possibility is the housing growth comes predominantly in the form of high density multi-family TOD, within say a mile from the stations. Something we should all be happy to see happen.

You will likely see both, as single family housing will be much more affordable than closer to SF. No doubt, stations will include park n ride facilities that will allow for sprawly development, but distance will control the amount that will be built.

jtown,man Jan 2, 2019 4:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by homebucket (Post 8423698)
Agreed. The only limiting factor would be the ticket prices. I'm not sure how much it would cost to commute daily from say Merced to SF, but assuming it's around $100 round trip, that comes out to about $26,000/year. Sounds high, but for some people it may be worth it so they can afford a house in the Central Valley.

26k times 30 years would be an extra 780k one could spend on a house. Sure, there are obvious flaws in that logic, like adding in the extra taxes, insurance, and the fact that lenders might not even lend you that extra money, but I think the point is still mildly clear- probably not gonna happen.

You will spend over 25k a year in transportation strictly to work. You will then live in an area will you will still need a car, so no cost savings there besides using less gas. And on top of all this, you will live in an area with much fewer amenities. I am sure some people may make this choice, but not enough to make any type of dent...anywhere.

jmecklenborg Jan 2, 2019 5:01 PM

It's not hard to imagine one half of a married couple living in the Central Valley commuting into the Bay Area or LA 4 days per week.

Also, remember that ALL trains will stop in San Jose, and since some will terminate there, SJ will actually have more service than DTSF and it'll be 30 minutes closer to the Central Valley.

It's hilarious as a non-Californian seeing how the coasters look down on the Central Valley with such unmitigated contempt.

BrownTown Jan 3, 2019 12:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmecklenborg (Post 8423741)
It's not hard to imagine one half of a married couple living in the Central Valley commuting into the Bay Area or LA 4 days per week.

Also, remember that ALL trains will stop in San Jose, and since some will terminate there, SJ will actually have more service than DTSF and it'll be 30 minutes closer to the Central Valley.

It's hilarious as a non-Californian seeing how the coasters look down on the Central Valley with such unmitigated contempt.

As several people have already pointed out the issue isn't primarily the distance, it's the cost. HSR tickets cost a lot more than your local commuter rail line does and will make a serious dent in most people's budgets unless California creates some massive subsidies to encourage people to move to the Central Valley (which isn't entirely implausible, but would be awfully stupid).

jmecklenborg Jan 3, 2019 12:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrownTown (Post 8424212)
As several people have already pointed out the issue isn't primarily the distance, it's the cost. HSR tickets cost a lot more than your local commuter rail line does and will make a serious dent in most people's budgets unless California creates some massive subsidies to encourage people to move to the Central Valley (which isn't entirely implausible, but would be awfully stupid).


If I had talked about the cost, you would have complained about the distance.

urban_encounter Jan 3, 2019 1:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sun Belt (Post 8423600)
CAHSR is going to make affordable areas, less affordable. The end result: more sprawl in green field/agricultural lands in the Central Valley.

Ive been one of the biggest critics of HSR however I believe politicians are committed to it and it would be wrong to rip the rug out from under it at this point because of all the infrastructure under construction already. I think that HSR might actually help the areas of the San Joaquin Valley that have historically suffered higher unemployment rates and lower college graduation rates. Yes some areas of the valley will see housing price increases (although much smaller by Bay Area standards) and yes there may be land which is currently agricultural that gives way to subdivisions. But there’s a big difference between the Northern Valley (Sacramento Valley) which is a lot greener because of the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin Valley which is parched in large swaths and relies heavily on water diversions. My point being is that there are agricultural areas that probably shouldn’t be farmed as agricultural. (Just my unscientific opinion). So while I.m not thrilled with the idea of a giant bedroom community, it might be the best way to link the more affluent coastal economies with underperforming interior economies since there’s plenty of room to grow the housing stock in the CV.

Bay Area migration has admittedly helped Sacramento to grow in positive ways. People that move here want better amentities, music, dining, and arts.

If i were mayor of a San Joaquin Valley City that will be a HSR stop I would be putting a local development and transportation plan in place to maximize HSR benefits and to attract future Bay Area workers.

BrownTown Jan 3, 2019 1:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by urban_encounter (Post 8424277)
Ive been one of the biggest critics of HSR however I believe politicians are committed to it and it would be wrong to rip the rug out from under it at this point because of all the infrastructure under construction already.

The sunk cost fallacy never makes sense, but it especially makes no sense when only like 5% of the construction is underway. It's not like this thing is 90% complete and we need to suck it up and get it done despite some issues. This project has hardly even begun and none of the challenging work has started which will be what really determines the timing and budget.

Will O' Wisp Jan 3, 2019 8:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrownTown (Post 8424289)
The sunk cost fallacy never makes sense, but it especially makes no sense when only like 5% of the construction is underway. It's not like this thing is 90% complete and we need to suck it up and get it done despite some issues. This project has hardly even begun and none of the challenging work has started which will be what really determines the timing and budget.

I don't think you quite understand, construction contracts have already been awarded for the majority of the central valley. You can't just cancel them, the state of california has signed a series of legal documents agreeing to pay over eight billion dollars to a series of construction contractors. If the state decides to cancel the project, they will sue for the remaining funds, and they will win because they have a legally binding contract. This is how all large scale projects work, no contractor would take the risk of hiring thousands of construction workers when the project sponsor could pull out anytime they felt like it.

In addition, if there isn't a HSR line from Madera to Bakersfield in 2022 the Federal government is legally entitled to demand california give back the $2.3 billion dollar grant they gave the project. If california shuts down construction now they will spend $10 billion dollars and get absolutely nothing for it. Even the most pointless of HSR lines is better than that, and so regardless of how much construction is actually completed (way more than 5% btw) a rail line built to HSR standards is going to be completed in the central valley.

The debate is now over what comes next. CAHSR has the funding and has made the commitments to build HSR in the central valley, upgrade shared lines in LA and SF, but no funding and no commitment to build the two most expensive and difficult phases of the project in order to connect them: tunneling through the mountainous Pacheco and Tehachapi Passes. Tunneling through the Pacheco to connect the central valley to SF will cost ~$10 billion, connecting LA to the central valley through Tehachapi ~$30 billion (nearly half the overall project cost). At some point later this year the lawmakers up in Sacramento will start the formal debate over which of these the project segments they should fund, or both, or neither at the cost of spending $16 billion dollars and only getting a slightly faster amtrak line in the central valley and some local rail improvements out of it.

DJM19 Jan 3, 2019 5:38 PM

There is a sunk cost fallacy with roads as well. We spend billions every year expanding roads to little fanfare or media scrutiny. How about we target that instead.

jmecklenborg Jan 3, 2019 9:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 8424555)
I don't think you quite understand, construction contracts have already been awarded for the majority of the central valley. You can't just cancel them, the state of california has signed a series of legal documents agreeing to pay over eight billion dollars to a series of construction contractors. If the state decides to cancel the project, they will sue for the remaining funds, and they will win because they have a legally binding contract. This is how all large scale projects work, no contractor would take the risk of hiring thousands of construction workers when the project sponsor could pull out anytime they felt like it.

In addition, if there isn't a HSR line from Madera to Bakersfield in 2022 the Federal government is legally entitled to demand california give back the $2.3 billion dollar grant they gave the project. If california shuts down construction now they will spend $10 billion dollars and get absolutely nothing for it. Even the most pointless of HSR lines is better than that, and so regardless of how much construction is actually completed (way more than 5% btw) a rail line built to HSR standards is going to be completed in the central valley.


Well Scott Walker *did* cancel rail contracts in Wisconsin as did Chris Christie in New Jersey. It was a disaster in each case. "Saving money" usually costs more than spending it, but people out there who think they are "good with money" are easily fooled by tea party machinations.

jmecklenborg Jan 3, 2019 10:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 8424555)
The debate is now over what comes next.

To clarify, the Caltrain electrification project that is currently underway will terminate immediately south of DT San Jose. Electrification of the entire line to Gilroy will be part of the HSR project. I believe that diesel trainsets will continue to operate between Gilroy and SF King even after electric operation commences between San Jose and SF King in 2022.

Democrats will be back in control of Washington in two years and with California's huge congressional contingent + a lobbying push from Google, Facebook, Apple, and other well-heeled Silicon Valley employers, we'll see an end to the Trump/Tea Party monkey business and the 13-mile mountain tunnel along with the tunnel link to Transbay will receive generous federal grants. California will be able to easily finance the balance.

BrownTown Jan 3, 2019 10:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 8424555)
I don't think you quite understand, construction contracts have already been awarded for the majority of the central valley. You can't just cancel them.

1. If California didn't put a clause in their contracts allowing them to terminate them then they're just fucking stupid. I've never heard of such a thing.

2. The currently awarded contracts are only ~10% of the total cost. It's deffinitely not too late to kill this boondoggle now before it goes any further.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmecklenborg (Post 8425139)
Well Scott Walker *did* cancel rail contracts in Wisconsin as did Chris Christie in New Jersey. It was a disaster in each case. "Saving money" usually costs more than spending it, but people out there who think they are "good with money" are easily fooled by tea party machinations.

Christie canceled the project because NJ would have been stuck with any cost overruns and he was proven right as the essentially identical project East Side Access has subsequently quadrupled in cost.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmecklenborg (Post 8425196)
Democrats will be back in control of Washington in two years and with California's huge congressional contingent + a lobbying push from Google, Facebook, Apple, and other well-heeled Silicon Valley employers, we'll see an end to the Trump/Tea Party monkey business and the 13-mile mountain tunnel along with the tunnel link to Transbay will receive generous federal grants. California will be able to easily finance the balance.

So your solution is to get the other 49 states to pay for your fucked up boondoggle? What a great plan! :koko:

jmecklenborg Jan 3, 2019 11:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrownTown (Post 8425227)
So your solution is to get the other 49 states to pay for your fucked up boondoggle? What a great plan! :koko:


California has more people than the smallest 20 states combined. California residents and companies pay more federal tax than the smallest 20 states combined: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federa...venue_by_state

I'm sure you'll just keep swinging away.

Will O' Wisp Jan 4, 2019 12:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrownTown (Post 8425227)
1. If California didn't put a clause in their contracts allowing them to terminate them then they're just fucking stupid. I've never heard of such a thing.

2. The currently awarded contracts are only ~10% of the total cost. It's deffinitely not too late to kill this boondoggle now before it goes any further.

Just because you haven't heard of something doesn't mean it doesn't exist...

CA has a clause in their contracts saying that they are only allowed to terminate them in the event of contractor malfeasance. All large scale projects, public or private, have such clauses. No contractor would agree to work with a project sponsor who didn't agree to have them. The level of resources and manpower involved in a multi-billion dollar construction project are far too valuable to be left sitting around idle, and contractors need to make commitments of their own to gather them together. People have been hired, production of materials has been scheduled, specialized equipment has been leased years in advance, and both sub-contractors and suppliers have turned away other potential business opportunities to dedicate themselves to the project. All of these parties have their own contracts with similar clauses that will require the primary contractor to pay them no matter what since they've made such large and irreversible commitments. If CA stops paying contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers will all be forced out of business, and the entire thing will dissolve into a massive quagmire of lawsuits that will see CA paying billions for absolutely nothing.

Christie canceled the ARC project just before construction contracts were awarded, and so avoided this mess but still had to pay back billions to the federal government that NJ had taken for the now canceled project. The CAHSR equivalent would be canceling everything in 2013. It's now 2018, the time for this particular discussion has passed.

CAHSR has spent $4 billion dollars so far on construction (5% of total estimated project costs). CAHSR has committed to building $10 billion worth of HSR line in the central valley and can't get out of it without the above happening (12% of the total project). CAHSR has $19-26 billion worth of total funding available at present, which covers all construction the the central valley and the improvements to local rail corridors in SF and LA (24-33% of total project).

And so the question before us today is whether to end spending at ~$16 billion (central valley segment + already committed local rail improvements) which gets us a 125 mph amtrack line, or spend ~$29 billion (of which we already have 40-90% depending on how well the cap and trade auctions go) to get HSR from SF to Bakersfield, or commit to paying the full $77 billion outright.

This is essentially what the peer review of the 2018 business plan states, and seems to imply the second is the most likely immediate outcome.


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