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California - High Speed Rail

  • 19-02-2018 1:01am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 272 ✭✭ BowSideChamp


    I was reading about this. They are spending an absolute fortune to build a high speed rail connection between San Diego to San Francisco. Mad money - for instance $15b to build a 13mile tunnel through a mountain range in the desert. http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-bullet-train-tunnel-20171021-story.html

    At the end of the day - the plane will still beat the train & ticket prices will have to be highly subsidised. Is this the ultimate Western Rail Corridor?


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,215 ✭✭✭✭ tipp_Gunner


    I was reading about this. They are spending an absolute fortune to build a high speed rail connection between San Diego to San Francisco. Mad money - for instance $15b to build a 13mile tunnel through a mountain range in the desert. http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-bullet-train-tunnel-20171021-story.html

    At the end of the day - the plane will still beat the train & ticket prices will have to be highly subsidised. Is this the ultimate Western Rail Corridor?


    Crazy money. I cant imagine the passenger traffic will justify the cost even in the USA. Surely people either fly or drive to other cities?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,133 ✭✭✭ Shurimgreat


    I don't see how the plane beats the train. The plane is a very inefficient means of transport for relatively short trips of a couple hours. You can only fit 200 or so people on most planes, they consume large amounts of fuel, you need to check in anything up to 2 hours beforehand, check in luggage, go through security, queue, wait for clearance, etc etc.

    You would have completed a high speed train journey while waiting in the airport for the plane to take off.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,517 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Manic Moran


    Can you say 'boondoggle'?

    It's an alabtross. Governor Brown is looking for it to basically be his legacy, despite the fact that there is now more opposition than support, and there is little reason to believe sufficient funding will ever be provided to complete it. Worse, despite the project being done in phases, so they could complete one phase before the others (due to funding availability), instead of building track which could perhaps be actually useful (such as upgrading the San Jose to San Francisco corridor), the first piece of track being laid goes from Madera to Fresno. If you are not particularly familiar with these two towns, it's because nobody wants to go to either one of them at any speed at all, let alone to get from one to the other at 200mph. But it did have the lowest cost per mile of track of them all, so they could say they're a good chunk of the way there.

    When the trains start running, assuming they get that far (Supposedly by 2025), it'll be from San Jose to Bakersfield, which isn't much better. (Well, technically, according to the LA times, it goes from San Jose to "an almond orchard south of Wasco." which is about 25 miles from Bakersfield. Sure, San Jose is big, but who the hell goes to Bakersfield (or an almond orchard 24 miles from it) and, even more so, who doesn't need a car at the other end? So they may as well just drive down the I-5 corridor anyway. Comparisons with the airplane are valid, but not quite as strong. A lot of the traffic they are trying to relieve is the traffic on I-5. Which, in fairness, there can be quite a lot of. But, since you need a car in LA anyway, we'll probably still drive down and suffer the traffic, even as the empty train flies by us to downtown LA.

    It's just utterly, utterly pointless. They should have taken the $60bn and thrown it into some public transportation infrastructure that folks are going to use every day and are screaming for, such as improvements to the BART system. That $13bn will get us a new trans-bay tube from Hayward to San Mateo, which I guarantee you would be packed to the gills every morning and afternoon commute. But, no. We gotta have the US's first true high speed rail link, because we're Californians and progressive and want to lead the way in new shiny things.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,990 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    It's just utterly, utterly pointless. They should have taken the $60bn and thrown it into some public transportation infrastructure that folks are going to use every day and are screaming for, such as improvements to the BART system. That $13bn will get us a new trans-bay tube from Hayward to San Mateo, which I guarantee you would be packed to the gills every morning and afternoon commute. But, no. We gotta have the US's first true high speed rail link, because we're Californians and progressive and want to lead the way in new shiny things.

    A good lesson to keep in mind here. You would have some folks here in Ireland do the same. Spending 10 billion on high speed rail between Cork and Dublin that would carry relatively few people, all the while the same money could be spent on Metro Link (MN) and Dart Underground and carry hundreds of thousands of people every day.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,641 ✭✭✭ cantalach


    bk wrote: »
    A good lesson to keep in mind here. You would have some folks here in Ireland do the same. Spending 10 billion on high speed rail between Cork and Dublin that would carry relatively few people, all the while the same money could be spent on Metro Link (MN) and Dart Underground and carry hundreds of thousands of people every day.

    Indeed. In Dublin...


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  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,990 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    cantalach wrote: »
    Indeed. In Dublin...

    Sure, but for the cost of high speed rail between Cork and Dublin, you could not only build Metrolink and Dart Underground, but would have more then enough to build at least one Luas line in Cork, if not two.

    Hell you could build MN, DU and two Luas lines in Cork and a Luas line in Galway and Limerick and still probably have money left over!!!


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,517 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Manic Moran


    The disaster continues.

    New report out. What was pitched as a $35bn project for the full 800 mile system in service by 2020 is now up to a $70bn- $98bn project for 520 miles open by 2029.

    Further, the 2 hour 30 initial journey time is now looking at being 3:30.

    So far, they have funded about $20bn. The rest was primarily supposed to come from private investment and the federal government. It's not happening.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 876 ✭✭✭ Lord Glentoran


    I think we should adopt some of that attitude to get the Navan line running and then extend it to Cavan, Enniskillen and Derry. Turn all that anti-rail indignation into money that is

    :pac:


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 40,086 ✭✭✭✭ Harry Palmr


    And one major earth tremor....


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,517 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Manic Moran




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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,312 ✭✭✭ yannakis


    The americans have seriously fallen behind the world, especially around infrastructure..


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,517 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Manic Moran


    Depends on which infrastructure, really. Considering the size of the country, the roads are pretty good (State-level bridge maintenance and certain states like California notwithstanding,) and the rails and ports are great. People focus on the passenger lines, because, well, that's what people like to use, but nobody in the world can touch the US's rail freight system. Water and power, it depends a bit on which State you're in. Same with the cities. Dense cities like NYC, Boston or SF are fairly well served by public transportation.


  • Registered Users Posts: 18,741 ✭✭✭✭ Muahahaha


    but nobody in the world can touch the US's rail freight system.

    Why so? Sorry not familiar, is it something to do with Amtrak?


  • Registered Users Posts: 36,082 ✭✭✭✭ ED E


    Muahahaha wrote: »
    Why so? Sorry not familiar, is it something to do with Amtrak?

    It moves a lot of oil. In dangerous ways but they don't like to talk about that bit :pac:


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,517 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Manic Moran


    Muahahaha wrote: »
    but nobody in the world can touch the US's rail freight system.

    Why so? Sorry not familiar, is it something to do with Amtrak?

    Only indirectly. Amtrak usually runs on rails owned by the freight railroads. However, the fact that the rails are unsuited to high speed passenger runs does not mean that it is not well suited for running lots of trains of some 18-20,000 tons each.

    The US is very good at loading, switching and transporting a lot of heavy cargo very efficiently.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,062 ✭✭✭ JohnC.


    Only indirectly. Amtrak usually runs on rails owned by the freight railroads.

    Now that you mention that, I seem to recall something about, because of that, freight always gets priority on those lines. If that means passengers have to wait on a siding or whatever, so be it. Is that right?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,815 ✭✭✭ Ste.phen


    JohnC. wrote: »
    Now that you mention that, I seem to recall something about, because of that, freight always gets priority on those lines. If that means passengers have to wait on a siding or whatever, so be it. Is that right?

    Apparently that's something of a misconception (and that passenger trains do have priority slots), but due to the speed and sheer size of the freight trains, if anything minor goes wrong the passenger trains are the ones that will get 'stuck' first and the ripple effect ends up affecting the passenger trains more than the freight


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,517 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Manic Moran


    The project is officially suspended. It is planned to complete the link between Merced and somewhere near Bakersfield and have trains running by 2027.

    There is no plan on just how to finish the links to San Francisco or Los Angeles, neither is there any indication as to how a Merced-Bakersfield line will turn a profit in the meantime. I mean, I don't know many people who want to go to either Merced or Bakersfield at any speed at all, let alone at 200mph, and even fewer who want to go from the one to the other.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 4,397 Mod ✭✭✭✭ spacetweek


    You don't need to be going to either. The conventional trains going LA-SF will be able to use the new tracks, which will reduce the journey time a bit. So it's still worth it.

    And the improvements at the SF end will benefit Caltrain and BART, so are also worth doing anyway. Maybe as far as San Jose.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,517 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Manic Moran


    Merced is nowhere near Caltrain or BART, they won't benefit from this authorised construction.

    Similarly, there is only one mainline train which goes from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the Coast Starlight. And it, well, follows the coast, serving those cities, so wouldn't be affected by the HSR routing. The San Joaquins does travel the length of the HSR link, from San Francisco area to Bakersfield where they terminate (A bus connection goes on to LA), but they're push-pull commuter trains, and so also would not particularly benefit from the potential increase of speed permitted by the new rail line. As it currently stands, the San Joaquin takes three hours to get from San Francisco to Merced, just a tad longer than it takes to finish the run from Merced to Bakersfield. So, again, is this worth the billions of dollars going into this?


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 4,397 Mod ✭✭✭✭ spacetweek


    Merced is nowhere near Caltrain or BART, they won't benefit from this authorised construction.

    Similarly, there is only one mainline train which goes from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the Coast Starlight. And it, well, follows the coast, serving those cities, so wouldn't be affected by the HSR routing. The San Joaquins does travel the length of the HSR link, from San Francisco area to Bakersfield where they terminate (A bus connection goes on to LA), but they're push-pull commuter trains, and so also would not particularly benefit from the potential increase of speed permitted by the new rail line. As it currently stands, the San Joaquin takes three hours to get from San Francisco to Merced, just a tad longer than it takes to finish the run from Merced to Bakersfield. So, again, is this worth the billions of dollars going into this?
    Yikes. Sounds like a waste of money alright.
    But I think it's sad that this means we're back to highway expansion and aviation, neither of which scale well.

    It may take innovations such as Elon's Boring Company to get them cheaply through the mountain ridges at either end. Until then I suppose they'll just have to complete what's already under construction.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 42 ✭✭✭ an_fathach


    spacetweek wrote: »
    Yikes. Sounds like a waste of money alright.
    But I think it's sad that this means we're back to highway expansion and aviation, neither of which scale well.

    It may take innovations such as Elon's Boring Company to get them cheaply through the mountain ridges at either end. Until then I suppose they'll just have to complete what's already under construction.
    I would have thought the profitability of long distance trains is going to be threatened by self driving cars and that intra city rail would be a better investment.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 4,397 Mod ✭✭✭✭ spacetweek


    an_fathach wrote: »
    I would have thought the profitability of long distance trains is going to be threatened by self driving cars and that intra city rail would be a better investment.

    Self driving or not, cars take up a lot more space per passenger than any other form of transport. Space on highways is expensive to provide.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,517 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Manic Moran


    spacetweek wrote: »
    Self driving or not, cars take up a lot more space per passenger than any other form of transport. Space on highways is expensive to provide.

    Yes, but the interstates have a -lot- of space to fill up. I'd wager we'll be on flying cars before car capacity on the CA-99 run between Merced and Bakersfield is reached.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 4,397 Mod ✭✭✭✭ spacetweek


    Yes, but the interstates have a -lot- of space to fill up. I'd wager we'll be on flying cars before car capacity on the CA-99 run between Merced and Bakersfield is reached.

    No doubt, but it's the capacity coming into LA through the mountains that matters, which will need to be upgraded anyway, whether by rail or highway.

    I agree that doing HSR Merced-Bakersfield solves nothing.

    There was a plan to upgrade 99 to I-9. Not sure if that's still official policy but many sections have been widened to 6 lanes and improved in the last 20 years. (They were doing Merced when I passed through in 2014.)
    Again, this is useless without more capacity through the Santa Clarita pass.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,163 ✭✭✭ cgcsb


    Hard to see how America can become more pro public transport. Their society is completely atomized. They're far too obsessed with it making a profit to actually make a success of anything but then with the other hand will invest billions in pro car measures that'll never return any money.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,517 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Manic Moran


    cgcsb wrote: »
    Hard to see how America can become more pro public transport. Their society is completely atomized. They're far too obsessed with it making a profit to actually make a success of anything but then with the other hand will invest billions in pro car measures that'll never return any money.

    We're geographically just too damned big and the population density isn't there to make it practical outside of the NorthEast..

    Case in point, the city in which I live, San Antonio, is geographically the size of County Monaghan. That's the city limits (I live within the city limits, I'm just over 30km from downtown). The metropolitan area is the size of Leitrim.
    The next major city East, Houston, is also about Leitrim sized, the Houston Metro area is the size of County Limerick. It's 300km from me.
    The next major city West, El Paso, is much smaller, not even the size of Co. Louth in terms of the city limits, but the metropoliitan area, defined by the counties of El Paso and Hudspeth, is bigger than counties Cork and Galway together. It is just shy of 900km between here and El Paso.

    Now, even if profit were not a consideration, can you imagine the sort of public transport infrastructure system which would be necessary to make the idea of hopping on public transport for whatever routine thing you need to do practically viable? The amount of bus routes, train routes, and personnel and equipment needed to run it? Only the central urban areas are even remotely feasible to have transport services.

    On the other hand, where the population density of the US actually does approach European levels, there is a very good public transport system. The NorthEast corridor between DC and Boston has numerous intercity trains a day, and all the cities on the route (eg Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore) also have excellent public transport systems. It is very feasible to leave your home in New York, and take the subway and Amtrak and DC Metro for a meeting in D.C. later that day, as the cities are both dense enough and close enough for a viable, practical, usable service to exist.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 42 ✭✭✭ an_fathach


    cgcsb wrote: »
    Hard to see how America can become more pro public transport. Their society is completely atomized. They're far too obsessed with it making a profit to actually make a success of anything but then with the other hand will invest billions in pro car measures that'll never return any money.


    The case of China is a interesting comparison. China is abuilding a ton of high speed rail. US and European however already have far cheaper air travel compared to China but its hard for the US or Europe to mass produce parts like China can.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,163 ✭✭✭ cgcsb


    We're geographically just too damned big and the population density isn't there to make it practical outside of the NorthEast..

    Case in point, the city in which I live, San Antonio, is geographically the size of County Monaghan. That's the city limits (I live within the city limits, I'm just over 30km from downtown). The metropolitan area is the size of Leitrim.
    The next major city East, Houston, is also about Leitrim sized, the Houston Metro area is the size of County Limerick. It's 300km from me.
    The next major city West, El Paso, is much smaller, not even the size of Co. Louth in terms of the city limits, but the metropoliitan area, defined by the counties of El Paso and Hudspeth, is bigger than counties Cork and Galway together. It is just shy of 900km between here and El Paso.

    Now, even if profit were not a consideration, can you imagine the sort of public transport infrastructure system which would be necessary to make the idea of hopping on public transport for whatever routine thing you need to do practically viable? The amount of bus routes, train routes, and personnel and equipment needed to run it? Only the central urban areas are even remotely feasible to have transport services.

    On the other hand, where the population density of the US actually does approach European levels, there is a very good public transport system. The NorthEast corridor between DC and Boston has numerous intercity trains a day, and all the cities on the route (eg Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore) also have excellent public transport systems. It is very feasible to leave your home in New York, and take the subway and Amtrak and DC Metro for a meeting in D.C. later that day, as the cities are both dense enough and close enough for a viable, practical, usable service to exist.

    It's more the atomized culture I think. California is more densely populated than Ireland for example and despite having Europe's worst public transport, it still trumps California.


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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,517 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Manic Moran


    cgcsb wrote: »
    It's more the atomized culture I think. California is more densely populated than Ireland for example and despite having Europe's worst public transport, it still trumps California.

    The density is far too localised for that.
    Yes, CA more densely populated than Ireland, in theory. 95/km2 vs about 70/km2. But in CA, that's all in the cities. The density of the San Francisco city is 6,600/km2, , the city of Los Angeles is 'only' 3,275/km2 (But some satellite cities go much higher. West Hollywood is 7,000, Maywood 9,000.)

    Dublin's population density is 1,736/km2. Rural Ireland is 26. When California gets rural, it gets -really- rural. Inyo county is larger than all of Munster, with a population of 18,000. That's 0.7/km2. The Bakersfield metro area is 34/km2. Merced county, the other end of the rail line, 50/km2.

    Basically, where the population density supports it, we have public transport. SF's muni system is quite viable, with rail and bus both. My wife took BART to the office, 40km each way. I took it to the airport, over 60km. Where we don't have public transport, we have few people to transport in the first place. A rail link stopping off at all those towns between SF and LA is basically of limited utility as you need a car to get around places like Fresno, they're too spread out for effective public transport (Or a great uber system). If you need a car at the end of the two hour train ride, you might as well drive yourself at the cost of the extra half hour.


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