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Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Kings County officials have been opposed all proposed routes:

Board members said no high-speed rail route through Kings County would be acceptable while denouncing the Authority and its Fresno-to-Bakersfield environmental impact report.

“I think we should come out and oppose high-speed rail in Kings County, no matter what alignment they have,” said Supervisor Tony Barba during a discussion of the county’s official response to the EIR, which is due Thursday. He was applauded by a large crowd that nearly filled the Board of Supervisors’ chambers at the Kings County Government Center.

And then they opposed getting started on California HSR:
HANFORD — Kings County supervisors on Tuesday will likely ask three key legislators to delay high-speed rail funding until the project resolves local conflicts.
The Legislature is expected to vote in June whether to spend $2.7 billion in state bond money on the project, which has created major controversy in the San Joaquin Valley and stoked opposition from several cities and counties who believe it should be scrapped.

Denying the funding would stop the Authority from starting construction in Fresno later this year or in early 2013.

And now, County officials seek to preserve Amtrak:
But Authority officials have recently entered into discussions with Kings County to see if Amtrak service through Hanford and Corcoran can be preserved, said Larry Spikes, Kings County administrative officer. Downtown stations are considered critical to cities’ local economy.

Authority Board Chairman Dan Richard couldn’t be reached for comment.

“Taking Amtrak right out of the heart of Hanford and Corcoran is just not a good idea,” Spikes said.

So, don't want the HSR Station in town, don't want the HSR to go outside of town, and wants Amtrak to be continued to Hanford and Corcoran at slow speed when the San Joaquin after the high speed route between Merced and Bakersfield becomes available.

What I am looking in this week's Sunday Train is a different way to go about this that provides a mix of local and intercity transport benefits to the major county centers: the Fresno Regional Rail Corridor.

Hey, We'll Take It If You Don't Want It!

One reaction to the actions of the Kings County Supervisor came from neighboring Tulare County with Visalia as its largest center. Robert Cruickshank at the California HSR Blog reported back in December that Tulare County Still Wants High Speed Rail:

Kings County leaders may have decided they’re happy with a 14.6% unemployment rate, opposing high speed rail and the long-term economic benefits it will bring to their county. But next door in Tulare County, leaders understand the benefits that high speed rail will bring – and they want in:
Watching their neighbor’s increasingly warlike stance, Tulare County, which strongly supports the project, has been looking for a way to insure the fast growing population in the two county region — nearing 1 million by 2030 — has a station. So instead of partnering up with Kings County as had been planned, they have decided to go it alone.

The city of Visalia will take up the idea at its Dec. 21 council meeting, Olmos said. "Now that we know they will be building the first leg of the route right here, we understand that it has moved up our chances to get a station. We’ve been told that if we want a station we need to apply fairly quickly."

In this draft of a submission from Tulare, they argued:
We believe that the HST in California is a critical investment in our future. In the short-term, it provides Californians with jobs to stimulate the economy. In the long-term, the benefits are far greater. As California’s population continues to grow so will its economy, but growth also brings congestion that backs up our freeways and pollution that fills the air we breathe. California is at a point in its growth when it must take a hard look toward its horizon to discern how it will alleviate the negative consequences that growth brings and plan for a vibrant, prosperous and sustainable future.

The HST gives Californians an opportunity to gain efficiencies in how they interact with people, business and entertainment throughout the state, while also reducing the environmental impacts of transportation. California’s HST isn’t a luxury; we believe it’s a necessity. It is an efficient, environmentally sound transportation choice for California residents and visitors.

The Basic Case for a King/Tulare County Station

The basic case for a King/Tulare county station can be seen when we look at how Hanford Station performs on the San Joaquin route. These are the average of boardings and alightings per day based on total annual boarding and alighting divided by 365, to the closest 10's:

  • 570 ~ Bakersfield (terminus)
  • 470 ~ Fresno
  • 360 ~ Stockton,
  • 260 ~ Hanford
  • 160 ~ Sacramento{2}
  • 130 ~ Merced
  • 130 ~ Emeryville{1}  
  • 130 ~ Modesto
  • 120 ~ Martinez{1}  
  • 70 ~ Oakland{1}  
  • 60 ~ Richmond{1}  
  • 40 ~ Antioch/Pittsburgh{1}  
  • 40 Corcoran
  • 30 ~ Turlock/Denair
  • 20 ~ Wasco
    • {1} About 2/3 of services originate at / proceed to Oakland.
    • {2} About 1/3 of services originate at / proceed to Sacramento.

While there is no particular urban center in Kings and Tulare Counties that is large enough to necessitate an HSR station, the combined population of 1m and growing and the fact that the existing Amtrak station at Hanford already serves over a full busload of passengers per Amtrak San Joaquin service suggests it at least merits consideration.

However, the one thing that is set in stone is that the HSR station has to be on the HSR corridor. Alignment Alternatives planning has been progressing, the CHSRA has given Hanford its wish to not have the corridor go through town, and that means that the remaining alternatives for the HSR corridor are a bypass west of town and a bypass east of town. So if the HSR corridor bypasses Hanford on the east, the HSR station can be placed on the eastern edge of Hanford, on the State Route between Hanford and Visalia, and if the HSR corridor corridor bypasses Hanford to the west, the HSR station can be placed on the western edge of Hanford.

So both Downtown Hanford and Downtown Visalia are out, as far as HSR stations go.

Going the Other Way Around

However, now that Kings Country is saying they want to keep their downtown Amtrak Station, and that the Amtrak level of service is good enough, there is a way to keep that level of service in downtown Hanford ~ and extend it to downtown Visalia as well. And that is by running a train down from the Fresno HSR station, along the HSR corridor, then leaving the corridor at the Hanford Bypass and heading along the existing BNSF alignment to the downtown Hanford station.

From there, there is a freight rail corridor that runs across between the BNSF mainline and the Union Pacific Mainline next to Visalia, and then continues running through Visalia and then down to a set of Central Valley farming hamlets and towns. And connecting to that is an abandoned rail corridor between Visalia and the smaller town of Tulare.

Now, that implies running about 25 miles on the HSR corridor between Fresno and the Hanford Bypass. At 220mph that is a transit of 7 minutes, while at 80mph that is a transit of 19min. That means that an HSR train that is 12min. south of Hanford would arrive in Fresno as an 80mph train leaving Hanford station and then joining the HSR corridor.

However, you cannot run trains "bumper to bumper" at 80mph, let alone 220mph. The "headway" is the time separation that you have to leave between the "tail" of one train and the "head" of the next one. The 2008 Prop1a specifies headways of 5 minutes. So for proper leeway, HSR chasing down an 80mph train on the HSR corridor would have to be about 17 minutes south of Hanford.

Headways of 5 minutes means that the maximum "bumper to bumper traffic" capacity of the corridor is 12 trains per hour, but in intercity rail transport, that capacity is most effectively used with a mix of different stopping patterns, where part of the capacity is devoted to the faster trains catching up to the slower trains until they hit a point built to allow a timed passing move. And in this mix, a 17minute footprint for a local train running through the corridor is a concern.

How can we reduce the footprint of this local rail system on the HSR corridor? By making it faster. At 125mph, 25 miles is a transit of 12min. That is only 5 minutes longer than a train at 220mph.

That train pictured is a "Diesel Multiple Unit", or "DMU" train, that provides the Transwa Prospector service between Perth and the mining town of Kalgoorlie, and runs at top speeds of 125mph. And that's pretty much the kind of configuration required. Now, that is probably a bit lighter than a DMU that is FRA-approved for running in mixed operation with freight, so a decision would have to be made between getting a a time-separation agreement with the freight operator on the branch line between Hanford and Visalia, or between going for the greater weight and lower fuel efficiency of an "FRA compliant" DMU. The section of mainline BNSF corridor between the Hanford Bypass and downtown Hanford is short enough that a single express track could be laid, with agreement of the corridor owner, and available for the use of the corridor owner as an express passing track during the period that the Fresno Regional Rail Corridor (FRRC) is shut down.

Extensions to the Fresno RRC System

Now, that express track arrangement may or may not be possible with the BNSF, the owner of the alignment through Hanford. I am still less confident that it might be possible on conventional rail corridor owned by Union Pacific, that the HSR is paralleling through Fresno. However, if it is, then the FRRC could leave the HSR corridor in Fresno, north of the HSR station, and continue for a long enough run for a following HSR train to stop in Fresno, and proceed on through. The FRRC could then reenter the HSR corridor and run through toward Madera, leaving the HSR corridor to terminate at a downtown regional rail station to replace the Amtrak station at the far north corner of town.

That gives the rail corridor illustrated with the bold blue and purple lines. This is an intercity rail service, not a local commuter line, and so there are not a large number of stations: including the Madera option, it would be Madera, Fresno HSR, Hanford, Goshen, Visalia, and Tulare. Goshen, directly off of SR99, is the main Park and Ride station for the system, with the other stations focusing primarily on their country towns for their catchment. Hanford already has a bus system that is organized around the buses meeting at the Amtrak Station every thirty minutes, and a single town center station is within the reach of a neighborhood electric vehicle or bike ride of anyone in town.

The reach of the system can be extended by supporting regional bus service, which are the narrow blue lines shown. Regional bus service runs from Hanford to both Corcoran and to the Leemore Naval Air base, the home port of the Strike Fighter Wing Pacific. Another bus line runs from the Visalia station to Porterville, and the small hamlets on the way {NB. not Pottersville ~ that's one thing we are trying to avoid, here}.

Note that the Regional Bus is not a local city bus service: it is an express regional connector. Also note that the routes themselves should be seen as schematic ~ I have never driven in either Kings County or Tulare County, so I have no particular on the ground knowledge of which streets are more appropriate for a high quality Regional Express Bus, and which are less effective.

Finally: Why This Is Better Than Hanford HSR Station ...


I never said this is better than Hanford HSR station. Indeed, an earlier version of part of this system came from an earlier look at what might be done in Kings and Tulare Counties if they obtained an HSR station.

The benefits of this system are a single seat ride to the other main town centers in King/Tulare Counties, and to Fresno HSR, which will be the center of the Fresno public transport system. If you are convenient to a Fresno RRC station, the single seat ride to both the HSR station and to the center of Fresno's transport system could well be preferable.

The benefits of the Hanford HSR station is that the HSR station is right there, which is a particular benefit to Regional Express Bus riders who get a single connection to the HSR station instead of a connection to a regional rail, which connects to HSR.

However, it stops being a trade-off between those convenient to a town-center train station and those who want a bus ride direct to the HSR station ... if it turns out that Hanford can't get an HSR at the edge of town. If that happens, then this approach seems likely to be substantially better than hopping on a bus to Fresno to catch the HSR.

Conclusions ...

As always, the Sunday Train does not end with a conclusion, but with opening the floor for discussion while the headliners warm up to start their set. And, as always, the discussion is not limited to the points raised in the points at hand: if you want to raise an entirely different topic about Sustainable Transport, go ahead and launch a new comment thread.

Midnight Oil ~ Truganini

Originally posted to Sunday Train on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks and Systems Thinking.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It don't mean it'll shake your Country Train Blues (18+ / 0-)

    ... just means they'll run at a faster tempo ...

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    by BruceMcF on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 04:14:24 PM PDT

  •  My neighborhood just got light rail this weekend! (9+ / 0-)

    It's the "Expo Line" that will eventually connect downtown Los Angeles, USC, South LA, Culver City, West LA and Santa Monica. The first segment has a stop within walking distance of my house, and can take me to USC or downtown. Whoopee!

    Re HSR in the Central Valley, I wish they would just put bullet between the northern LA suburbs and the southern Bay Area suburbs. There's no place in between that you'd really want to find yourself without a car.

    •  Your thinking destinations ... (7+ / 0-)

      ... you are forgetting origins. The Valley is substantially underserved by intercity transport, and the fact that you can get around much of the Bay and many of the primary destinations in the LA Basin without a car means that the HSR will attract trips from the Valley toward both the Bay Area and the LA Basin.

      Indeed, one would expect that when the average between origins and destinations are 260 riders per day, the larger number of those are residents of Kings and Tulare Counties, either departing on their original trip or alighting from their return trip.

      And congratulations on the Expo line! I read a write up about that last weekend, it was quite a long, long, long fight to get the corridor retained, then to get the project approved, then to get the project built.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 05:58:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF, Aunt Pat

        I was thinking of it more from the destination point of view.

        •  This is a tricky thing with transport ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pilkington, Aunt Pat

          ... and projecting from ourselves to the market as a whole.

          When thinking about how tasty a particular corn chip, which part of the state you live in doesn't make much difference in the ingredients of the chip.

          But by its nature, a transport corridor that is providing different things to people living in different places. Someone living on the north end gets the chance to travel to the south end, and visa versa. But someone in the middle gets a chance to travel either to the north or the south end, and a quicker trip besides. Its like the same bag contains scoop corn chips in one city, ruffled potato chips in a second city and tortilla chips in a third city.

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          by BruceMcF on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 09:33:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  IMHO "both or neither." (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat

        The idiots in King's County want to have it both ways.  The answer to that is "get stuffed!"

        They should be told that if they don't want the HSR line coming through their county, Amtrak service will also be discontinued to the county.

        This is like telling anti-windfarm NIMBYs that if they don't want to see where their electricity comes from, they can vote to take their towns off the grid entirely.  
        "You don't like electricity?  Fine, then no electricity for you."

        F---ing spoiled babies.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 09:10:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, they don't get to block the HSR ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, Aunt Pat

          ... line, whether they "want to" or not. And its likely that the Kings County supervisors know that full well and a lot of what they are doing is empty posturing.

          If they don't want it going through Hanford, then it will run outside Hanford, given that a bypass is cheaper anyway, but a majority of the state voted ti approve $9b in bond funding for the corridor, a single county cannot say "it won't pass through my county".

          On the larger question, I don't hold to making bad transport decisions to spite the people who live in a county where the supervisors are engaged in political posturing. I'm for pursuing sustainable transport decisions everywhere.

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          by BruceMcF on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 09:26:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Elections have consequences. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Aunt Pat

            If people want to vote for arseholes, they get to live with the results.  

            Now given that transportation infrastructure is expensive and the investments are permanent, and spite is an irrational basis for engineering decisions: if it was actually up to me what I would do is:

            1)  We're building our line through your county whether you like it or not.

            2)  No station for you until you throw the arseholes out of office and elect people who want the station.

            3)  Behind the scenes, we "modularize" the design to make it easier to add the station if/when the voters come to their senses.  But we still charge the county full-fare for cost of the station and pocket whatever we save by having risked the "modularization" aspect on our own dime.  

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 11:22:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Basically, if the local people ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Aunt Pat

              ... want to decide between the west bypass and the east bypass, they can.

              All that Kings County officials are doing by opposing all HSR is effectively ceding control to Tulare County officials: if Kings County officials say they are opposed to both, and Tulare County officials say that they want the east bypass, the east bypass it shall be. Either option is roughly equivalent for the HSR system as a whole.

              The decision on whether to place the station on that bypass is also not something that its really Kings County supervisors who will be deciding. Its a marginal station, and there is are a limited number that are allowed to be placed on the HSR corridor (since prop1a wanted to guard against the corridor being turned into a 1 station every 5 miles regional rail corridor, with the 220mph speed being only a hypothetical speed limit), so its not yet certain whether there will two central San Joaquin Valley stations, or one.

              But, again, if Kings County votes not to have any HSR at all running through the county, and Tulare County fights to have a station as accessible as possible, on the east Hanford bypass, accessible from SR43 and SR198, the Kings County vote is equivalent to "pass", and its only the Tulare County actions that would be able to exert any influence.

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              by BruceMcF on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 06:17:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, and see below ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat

      ... you are forgetting the Yosemite Park bus from Visalia.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 07:59:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  LOVE the Sunday Train. Thank you! n/t (7+ / 0-)

    “The only thing that happens in an instant is destruction … everything else requires time.” ~ First Lady, Michelle Obama

    by ParkRanger on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 05:53:45 PM PDT

  •  Thanks Bruce..... (5+ / 0-)

      I like Sunday Train too!

       My brother has been plying me with questions about the UP 844 flat wheels uh-oh in Texas. It would appear that the MOPAC has had it's revenge!

    Compost for a greener piles?

    by Hoghead99 on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 06:12:13 PM PDT

    •  That there would be ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hoghead99, Judge Moonbox, G2geek, Aunt Pat

      ... well outside of my wheelhouse as far as expertise goes.

      But the occasional freight accident (as I understand it, a gravel train hitting a train with the wheels of a steam train in one of its boxcars) is often from badly maintained track ... and if it is from badly maintained track, why, that there might be one more "benefit" of the single track revolution.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 06:22:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  single track: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat

        I take it from your tone, that a) single-track rights of way have become more common in recent rail installations, and b) it's stoopid to have a right-of-way with a single track compared to double track (capacity for trains in both directions, option for switching to pass, ability to single-track during maintenance of either track, etc.)

        Aside from the obvious "penny-wise / pound-foolish" aspects, whatever possessed people to build single-track systems when the incremental cost of an additional track is minimal compared to the rest of the costs involved?

        What this reminds me of is the current hype in my own industry (telephony) for VOIP, whereby office telephones are piggybacked onto the computer network.   Thus we see people spending money to put in conduits that carry only the wires for the computer network, locking themselves into that infrastructure, when it would be relatively cheap to also pull cable for voice outlets at the same time.  The result is the equivalent of single-tracking: one wire per desk or office, attempting to carry both voice & data, where two wires would enable an architecture with significant reductions in total cost of ownership over time.  

        The penny-wise/pound-foolish aspect of that is obvious, but there's another pernicious factor at work here, which is "bandwagon-jumping."  People get convinced by sales hype that they can get away with cheaping-out on their cable infrastructure, and then they get locked into telephones that are hella' more expensive to maintain than if they'd done it right in the first place (separate voice & data cable, digital telephones not piggybacked on the LAN).  

        So I wonder about this: was there at some point a kind of sales hype and bandwagon-jumping effect for single track rail systems?  And what kind of propaganda was used to get people to go for it?

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 09:55:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It depends on what you are aiming for ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aunt Pat

          ... since the 1950's, faced with competition from the heavily subsidized trucking industry while freight rail has to pay for its own infrastructure ~ including paying local property tax on infrastructure while competing against freight traveling on tax-exempt roads ~ rail has focused on markets where the dominant consideration is price per ton mile, and has largely ceded markets where time to market and scheduled delivery reliability are substantial considerations.

          In that context, running long, slow, plodding trains with just enough locomotive power to keep moving at the ruling grade on the minimum possible infrastructure makes substantial financial economic sense.

          The single track revolution was not so much adding single track infrastructure, as ripping out the double track and quad track infrastructure we once had, as the express wagonload freight that once justified the expense of that infrastructure was taken over by trucking.

          There is still double track in the country ~ but quite a lot of mainline is single track, and almost all branch lines.

          A side-effect of that is a rail network system that is by and large incompatible with the needs of passenger rail, which are very much like the needs of the parts of the freight market that the rail operators ceded to truck freighting.

          The flip side of that is that there are rail corridors all across the country that are wide enough to support quad track, but which only presently host single track, where the capacity can be added at decreasing average cost, while most intercity road capacity in regions with growing population are at the point where adding capacity involves increasing average cost.

          If we electrify a handful of cross country (N/S and E/W) corridors, we can quite economically add capacity to support the 60mph heavy freight and 90mph fast freight while offering superior time to market, delivery reliability, and lower cost per ton-mile than door to door truck freight.

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          by BruceMcF on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 06:06:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great dairy, Thanks. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, Aunt Pat

    "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

    by blueoregon on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 06:35:02 PM PDT

  •  Day Trips to Yosemite. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, G2geek, Aunt Pat

    With any real improvement to service between Oakland and Merced, it will be possible to take day trips to Yosemite National Park. Have there been any studies of the impact? Currently, it's possible, but the schedule is tight. I also wonder if improved service would create a market for connecting buses to Sequoia-Kings Canyon NPs.

    Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? -Paul Krugman

    by Judge Moonbox on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 06:44:44 PM PDT

    •  I do think that the way that the ridership ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox, Woody, G2geek, Aunt Pat

      ... modelling is done, it will pick up diversions from car trips to trips by rail ... but the ridership modeling is a bit conservative as far as travel that happens because of new possibilities.

      I was thinking of Yosemite as I was drawing the maps in, but didn't mention it in the diary at all. But, yes, once the first HSR service from the San Fernando Valley to Merced is running, then even with a connecting bus trip, its well under three hours from downtown LA to Yosemite.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 06:49:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have to ask you (0+ / 0-)

    How does this make financial sense?  I'm not sure how many people a day are being calculated, but with a max of 1000 a day 365 days a year for 20 years this is coming out to over 10 grand a ride! (Last figures I saw were around $80,000,000,000)

    Even at high speed, there just aren't that many people who are ready to rush off to Merced!

    •  Where did you get a maximum of 1,000 a day ... (7+ / 0-)

      ... from? Good lord, as shown in the table, the Amtrak San Joaquin already gets over 1,000 a day, and it takes forever, and requires a bus ride to actually reach LA.

      As far as "rush off to Merced", Merced/SFV is just the first HSR stage. The complete Phase 1 at $68b is still downtown San Francisco to LA Union Station and then through to Anaheim.

      In 1988, LA/SF was 6.6m passenger trips, or 18,000/day. A 3hr train trip will typically capture about 60% of combined air/rail market, so that's 10,000+ a day there. A 3hr train trip that is substantially faster than driving will divert as many or more car trips as air trips, so there's 20,000+. And then there's the created trips ~ Judge Moonbox raises Yosemite, but there are a wide variety.

      The notion that the market for 3hr train trips from LA to San Francisco is somehow limited to 1,000 a day is simply not anchored in reality. It sounds like one of those figures that the people paid to reach anti-HSR conclusions at Reason, Cato and Heritage might arrive at.

      Obviously the stages where its a five hour trip and where its a 3.5hr trip will not have that same ridership, but the same was true when we were building the Interstate Highway system.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 07:02:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Admittedly a casual examination of your numbers (0+ / 0-)

        But you really need well over a magnitude more travelers.  You probably need to get the full route SF to LA for it to make any sense at all.  There are certainly plenty of air travel seats, about 12000 per day being filled in both directions.

        I'm not sure how the 3 hour train vs 1 hour plane works.  Personally I would find the extra trouble of going through airline security an offset, but there is also the very real possibility that with a high-profile target such as a high speed rail line that similiar security would be necessary -- and protecting the whole track is pretty scary, the Madrid train bombing is an example.

        I thought phase I was just to Merced, and I've driven to Merced -- it's not a big vaction spot.  Come to think of it, neither is Tulare!

        I admit I haven't really been following this, I just read some literature in the train station -- I recently rode the train from Oxnard to Seattle and back as a vacation -- a beautiful ride.  Interestingly some of my fellow passengers commented that they had ridden high speed trains elsewhere and that they moved to fast to really get a good view.

        I just wonder if this is yesterday's solution.  It will take a long time to build.  Technology will progress while this is going on.  Personally, I would hope that improved communcation would allow much more realistic virtual meetings to cut down on a lot of travel.  People, being people there will still be the need to shake hands, but you are looking at probably two days away from the office to take the train up to SF, have meeting and get back.  The one hour plane ride make it a little more likely that you can take an early flight, have your meeting and get back that night.  I've done that a couple of times.

        •  Arrival at the airport to departue from the ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aunt Pat, shaggies2009

          ... airport, there is no such thing as a one hour plane.

          As far as the "I wonder if this is yesterday's solutions" ... its perfectly clear that if California's population grows over the next twenty years, more money will be spent on intercity transport. If its not in support of technology developed in the 1980's through to the past decade, it will be in support of technology developed in the 1920's to 1950's.

          The modeling projections are based, in both cases, on the status quo conditions with a lag. It assumes that the air and road infrastructure will not be increasingly obsolete in twenty years. So in that sense, it is a very conservative projection.

          The choice is between spending more money on road and airport infrastructure that is more likely to be a white elephant by the time that the twenty years are up ~ since once built, the HSR corridor will always be more efficient than air travel for that, and the HSR corridor will always be more efficient and more convenient than an individual driving themselves.

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          by BruceMcF on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 05:47:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  And also, remember that this is not a road. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tennessee Dave, Woody, G2geek, Aunt Pat

      A lot of this spending has a lifetime of a hell of a lot longer than 20 years. Right of way acquisition is as long as our system of property rights lasts. Tunnel infrastructure has a lifetime of a century. The overhead catenary may be 20 years, but the towers are longer, as are the electricity substations.

      But if you want to put it on a 20 year basis, the current population of California is 37m. On a 20 year basis, that is under $92 per person per year, to have insurance against having all of the intercity transport in the state dependent on our country's access to crude oil. On projected population growth, its substantially lower.

      Indeed, considering population growth, buying the same transport capacity as the HSR will provide over the next 20 years would cost $135 per person per year or more, and at that there will still be substantial spare capacity for the HSR, and expanding transport capacity further would be readily self-funded from ticket revenues, while getting the same expansion of transport capacity from air and road would be even more than $135, since road and air transport infrastructure in the state of California has passed through the decreasing average cost range and into the increasing average cost range.

      to buy the same transport capacity with

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 07:14:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  $92 per person to year? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Of course if that were $92 per traveler, it might be fine, but the vast majority of people in the state are never going to ride it because they aren't along the line or have no real interest in going where it's going.  Not everyone in LA heads off to San Fransico.

        And, of course, this is far from 'all the intercity transport', the vast majority of which is freight, which I don't think is going to be carried by high speed passenger rail.

        •  So you are fine with spending ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aunt Pat, shaggies2009

          ... $135 per person per year on a part of that transport capacity, and then before that twenty year period is up starting on spending another $135 per person per year on intercity passenger transport infrastructure ...

          ... but cannot justify spending $92 per person per year over one twenty year spell and have an investment that will last a century.

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          by BruceMcF on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 05:37:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  City of Visalia bus (5+ / 0-)

    I don't know if you're aware of this but the City of Visalia operates a bus service up to Sequoia National Park as way to pack their hotels that could easily be extended to the train station in Hanford.
    Would it be worth considering European style interurban electric rail service ala the old Sacramento Northern in Kings & Tulare Counties between wherever the HSR station is and the population centers in those counties?

    ex-SSP. What would Machiavelli do?

    by hankmeister on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 07:22:30 PM PDT

    •  Its worth it to consider electrification ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, Aunt Pat

      ... though it depends in part on how long it is before the system is set up.

      After all, once the Express HSR is running, from the Hanford Bypass north would be electrified in any event, so it would be an electric rail service for the cost of electrifying less than 1/3 of it. And from the Hanford bypass for a certain distance along the corridor, it could be powered as an extension of the corridor. Placing the substation at the junction with bypass, might allow it all to be electrified from the HSR corridor.

      However, if it is was established from the point when the San Joaquin begins running on the HSR corridor, then there wouldn't be the electrification in place on the HSR corridor. And as a likely 1 train each way per hour system, the cost of the infrastructure would not normally be covered by the saving in operating cost on a 1tph system.

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      by BruceMcF on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 07:43:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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