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View Diary: Sunday Train: HSR & the Slow Trains of No. California (131 comments)

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  •  I think Jerry Brown is on the right "track" (17+ / 0-)

    One problem I wonder if you want to comment on is that the text of the law requires that any system built with proceeds from the Prop 1A meet certain criteria, including travel times, and the travel time for SF/Oak to LA was two hours and 40 minutes. It doesn't sound like any of the alternatives that you talked about would achieve that. Might there then be a lawsuit claiming improper use of the bond proceeds?

    One thing that has long bothered me about the issue of rail in California is the extreme neglect suffered of the existing continuous Amtrak right-of-way. For example, with existing track, you can run a train from that would offer service directly into downtown San Diego, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Salinas, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Davis and Sacramento. That is most of the big cities in California, and most of the places where tourists go. And those are places in the state best served already by public transit, where you can get off of the train and actually do things without need of a car. But zero attention has been paid in the last 30 years on this route, and if you look at schedules, routes, travel times for the existing Amtrak right of way in the state, it's ridiculous, and the trains are nearly always late. Travel times are like double what they are in an automobile.

    Most of the extreme delays have to do with the fact that freight has priority over passenger rail. This is ridiculous, when you think that a train full of people can be sidelined for an hour waiting for a train full of inanimate objects to pass by, but it's what happens. Why can't we just pay the freight companies whatever that priority is worth, and then at least speed up service on all of the existing rail lines in the state to the maximum level feasible on existing track? And then why not maybe subsidize fares/service a bit to make a bit more attractive? Then start speeding up sections, separating rights-of-way, electrifying, etc.

    I also didn't see much about what's going to happen with "slow rail" in Southern California pursuant to Brown's new plans. Assuming that HCR is using standard gauge track, we have many miles of commuter rail that could be integrated into the system.

    •  There are several questions that ... (13+ / 0-)

      ... ought to be tested in court, because Prop1a is a bit of a ramshackle mess cobbled together to meet objections from a wide variety of directions.

      As far as "none of the systems" ~ 2:40 for an Express Limited Stops service SF/LA is exactly what my "under 3hrs" refers to.

      The 2:40 is not a time that any interim service has to meet, as long as they are compatible with a plan that can reach 2:40. So, for example, there might be a legal objection to electrifying the Antelope Valley line from Burbank to Lancaster with Prop1a funds, since there's no way that the Antelope Valley line gets 2:40 LA-US / SF-TBT. That's for either the the 5:30 and 3:30 version.

      On the other hand, the HSR corridor from Lancaster to Merced would be part of a 2:40 system, given either a Wye at Chowchilla and the Pacheco alignment or a Wye at around Lanteca and an Altamont Pass alignment, so that would be a kosher use of Prop1a funds.

      If the Caltrain corridor is electrified and shared between the HSR and Caltrain, then as a pure two track corridor, it would be short ~ with a long enough stretch of mid-Peninsula passing track and the existing 4 track section in South San Francisco, though, and with a fix for the San Bruno curve, it would work. So if the money is being spent on the stuff that is useful for meeting the 2:40, the fact that a second stage service is 3:30 is not a violation.

      And upgrading the Amtrak corridor heading into LA-Union Station to support genuine urban Express Electric Passenger rail would certainly be usable in the 2:40 trip, so that would be kosher.

      In short, most, but not necessarily all, of the spending would be infrastructure to eventually be used by a 2:40 service. The stuff that might not be a kosher use of Prop1a funds, it would need some other funding source.

      AFAIU, the 2:40 is not the trickiest of the legal issues ~ what does partial segment mean, and what do 5 minute headways mean when running on a shared corridor? These are things to be settled in a test case.

      I believe there has been discussion of using Cap&Trade funds for part of this ~ that would certainly be appropriate for electrifying the Antelope Valley line, since by the time HSR no longer needs it, there will be an electric rail corridor all the way to Union Station, so the Antelope Valley Metrolink service could be electrified ~ and if electrified, the Express would be substantially faster.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Apr 01, 2012 at 06:15:23 PM PDT

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    •  I'm with you on the LA to SF via the coast (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimpy, Mr Robert, sfbob, Simplify, KenBee

      I live near SLO and would take the train but it's very slow, sometimes doesn't even run and is often buses.  The trip between Grover Beach and Santa Barbara is beautiful and even goes along the beach at Vandenberg, great tourist stuff.

      Congressional elections have consequences!

      by Cordyc on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 07:40:43 AM PDT

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