13 September 2009

Focus on: Brisbane

Only 2.7 miles of the peninsula rail corridor fall within the city limits of Brisbane (population 3597), of which the majority was widened to four tracks in the early 2000s to enable overtaking for Caltrain's Baby Bullet express service. The four tracks already in place might at first suggest that the impact of high speed rail on Brisbane would be relatively minor, especially since Brisbane does not have a single grade crossing and will therefore not require any controversial grade separations. Unfortunately for Brisbane, HSR is likely to be much more than just tracks passing through town.

The Brisbane Baylands

The existing alignment of the Caltrain tracks was established by the Southern Pacific railroad's Bayshore Cutoff, a series of trestles and tunnels built at the turn of the 20th century to provide direct rail access to San Francisco (shown under construction in the 1905 photo at right, looking south). The marshes between the tracks and the original shoreline were filled in with rubble from the 1906 earthquake, and became known as the Baylands (see overview map, as well as track maps for mileposts 5 and 6). In its heyday, this area served as a massive railroad yard, complete with engine roundhouse. The tracks were shut down in 1982, and all that remains of the yard is a vast expanse of soil contaminated with lead and oil, forming the western portion of the 650-acre site now known as the Brisbane Baylands.

The cleanup and restoration of the Brisbane Baylands is to be followed by redevelopment, by a city eager to grow its tax base. The Brisbane Baylands Community Advisory Group maintains a nice library of documents relating to the site, including a 2008 overview of the planned development. The Brisbane Baylands project is well into its CEQA environmental review process, and all the alternatives that have been defined for detailed study in the EIR involve a nearly total redevelopment of the former railroad yard.

Most of the stakeholders in this process seem oblivious to the possible implications of the high speed rail project for Brisbane. The HSR scoping comments submitted by the City of Brisbane never even mention two very important words: maintenance facility.

The San Francisco Maintenance Facility

The high speed rail system requires train maintenance and storage facilities in the vicinity of its major terminals. This topic came to light during the California High Speed Rail Authority's August 2009 meeting, when the board chairman noted that the requirements for such HSR maintenance facilities were not generally understood by the public, and asked for memoranda describing these facilities to be released.

On the peninsula corridor, a train maintenance and storage facility must be placed as close as possible to the San Francisco terminal to minimize the amount of non-revenue train movements between the facility and the passenger terminal. The CHSRA's technical memorandum 5.1 on heavy maintenance facilities describes the following characteristics for the facility to be located near San Francisco:
  • 84 acres
  • 1081 ft wide
  • 27 storage tracks, 8 shop tracks, 2 cleaning tracks, 4 "other" tracks
Including other items such as parking and access roads described in technical memorandum 5.3, the overall size of the San Francisco facility balloons to 90 to 108 acres. The conceptual plans for this facility are found in the technical memorandum 5.1 directive drawings.

90 to 108 acres is a lot of land, a strip over 1000 ft wide by nearly a mile long. The CHSRA additionally desires the access tracks to such facility to be about 4000 ft long, to allow trains to leave the main corridor at about 100 mph and enter the maintenance facility without forcing other trains to slow down. This concept is similar to a freeway exit ramp, and would likely be grade-separated from the main line through a suitable arrangement of flyovers. The total length of the facility would be over two miles.

Site Location Criteria

Ideally, again according to the CHSRA memoranda, the facility should be located preferably within 1.5 miles of the San Francisco terminal, desirably within 3 miles, and exceptionally further than 3 miles. The good news for Brisbane is that it is further than 6 miles from the Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco, seemingly outside the acceptable range of this criterion. The bad news is that there are no 100-acre parcels of flat, open land available within those 6 miles.

While the CHSRA's memoranda never mention Brisbane by name, the location of the San Francisco Terminal Storage / Maintenance Facility (TSMF) is nearly certain to be:

The Brisbane Baylands.

Curiously enough, a February 2009 visit to the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce by the CHSRA's Quentin Kopp does not seem to have touched upon all the implications of high speed rail for Brisbane, since it was reported as having been "well received." Let's see how it goes after Brisbane wakes up-- see the realistically-scaled overlay of the CHSRA's yard plan shown above, or better yet, see for yourself in Google Earth.

NOTE: This post will be updated continuously, as warranted by additional information or new events relating to Brisbane.

46 comments:

  1. Does Caltrain own the land that was the switchyard or do the developers have a stake?

    Is the proposed size of the maintenance facility rounded up for negotiating purposes?

    Even if the acrage and number of tracks are oversized, it would provide room to grow the system. They should give the maintenance yard enough room before the development hems it in.

    How would or could the maintenance fly-over tracks work with the approach to the new tunnel?

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  2. According to these newspaper articles:

    Development plans for toxic former rail yards in Brisbane

    Brisbane 541-acre brownfields rail yard development

    ... it appears some (or all?) of the Brisbane land may still be owned by Universal Paragon, a privately-held Taiwanese real estate conglomerate that "has owned much of Brisbane's 660-acre
    baylands for more than 15 years."

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  3. "Does Caltrain own the land that was the switchyard or do the developers have a stake?"

    Universal Paragon Corporation.

    "Is the proposed size of the maintenance facility rounded up for negotiating purposes?"

    As is usual with CHSRA=PBQD, it is multiplied by a factor of infinity for cost maximization purposes.

    They propose to park (page 18) nearly 20,000 seats (40 200m sets!!) of nose bleed expensive rolling stock overnight in order to start up the day's the eight trains per hour they "predict" (page 24) the tooth fairy will "run" from SF every single hour starting from 5am, before the 8 HS trains per hour start arriving from the south after 8am and (after a WORLD CLASS 40 minutes of sitting around out of service) finally begin turning back.

    "Even if the acrage and number of tracks are oversized, it would provide room to grow the system. They should give the maintenance yard enough room before the development hems it in."

    Gaming the size of construction projects and inflating the cost and scope of construction can sometimes be regarded as "planning" and "having foresight". In other circumstances, the terms "rent seeking" and "consultant capture" and "cost maximization" might be more apropos.

    "How would or could the maintenance fly-over tracks work with the approach to the new tunnel?"

    A few things to consider:

    * Why exactly is a new tunnel (or new tunnels) needed?

    * Assuming it is (and I think there may possibly be a weak, train evacuation safety case to be made for just Tunnel 3, but zero operational justification for more tracks into SF), under what possible circumstance will dead-heading, yard-destined or yard-originating trains be required to travel at 160kmh as they to or from SF? For that matter, what possible real world scenario will see 160+kmh speeds anywhere north of Bayshore for any train?

    * The nice way to do this is to rebuild Bayshore as a central island platform between the central slow lines (ie as it should have been built by a competent, non-Caltrain agency, then have the yard access track be a single track connected to both of the slow lines south of the platform, rising up and then crossing over the main lines. That requires about 400m of run, which puts the ideal yard location far south of any cost-maximized tunnel interfaces anyway.

    Something like this, but without the track-over-platform complication and without the six through tracks and huge excavated sub-surface elevation. (PS I detect no 100mph yard access there. Hmmmmmmm. PB clearly need to go and fix that for them ASAP.)

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  4. So basically, what you're saying is that like any modern train system, CAHSR needs a maintenance yard. Brisbane happens to be the site of a undeveloped former railyard, in an industrial area, adjacent to a former landfill, and an abundance of vacant land.

    Did you expect it to be easier?

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  5. Just very very expensive. If you end up having to go to court to eminent domain a piece of the property, the landowner has a case for making you buy the rest to compensate them for damage that your project does to the value of the remaining land.

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  6. "has owned much of Brisbane's 660-acre
    baylands for more than 15 years."


    Most of the articles quote people saying they have no idea why UPC is holding this land for so long w/o making any revenue from it. Perhaps UPC was biding its time waiting to sell some contaminated land (i.e. cannot be used for housing) to CHSRA for their yard. ;-)

    For that matter, what possible real world scenario will see 160+kmh speeds anywhere north of Bayshore for any train?

    Richard, I think your comments are generally useful in spite of your outrageous rhetoric. But some of them I do not understand. Even in the US we have cases in which trains operate at 160+ kph this close to city centers.

    See, for example, Boston. Boston Back Bay is located at MP 227.5 (Boston South Station is one mile beyond that), and trains approaching from the south must slow for a sharp curve located around MP 227.2 (SR 30 mph). Northbound trains maintain 160 kph until about MP 226, i.e. 1 to 1.5 miles before the curve.

    This real-world example suggests that it would be prudent to assume 160 kph operations up until Islais Creek.

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  7. "[...]Even in the US we have cases in which trains operate at 160+ kph this close to city centers.[...]"

    Well, yes, ideally you'd have V_max right up to the braking point for the buffer stops at the station.

    (I just can't help but note here that the outrageously incompetent DTX to Transbay "plan" features, unavoidably, the sharpest curves in the state-wide line, but, completely inexcusably, curves far tighter than are geometrically necessary and tighter than any high speed interoperability standard anywhere in the world recommends.)

    My issue as usual is that there are smarter and stupider (= less expensive and more expensive) ways of achieving the goal of fast end to end run times given the reality of limited capital.

    A couple km of 160 vs 130kmh running achieved at the expense of new tunnels into SF is about the worst possible investment (= most likely to occur) of cash in terms of minutes gained per dollar spent.

    (To a rough first approximation, if the answer is "tunnel" and the question doesn't involve either saving multi-digit percentages of run time or mitigating large known surface problems above very well understood geology, you've probably answered incorrectly -- unless you're in line for construction cost overrun payouts. Tunnelling is cost and cost escalation death for most projects. Stay away!!!)

    The best investments are always operational improvements (decreasing dwell times), but there are much lower-hanging fruit that out cost-maximizing PBQD overlords choose to ignore.

    Such as Altamont.

    Or the damned San Bruno curve.

    Or about 20 other things I could name off the top of my head.

    The question isn't whether 100mph into SF is possible; it's whether it's a highest and best use of public money. I claim that it isn't, not by a long shot. (And I'm sure it will be proposed and happen, for exactly that reason.)

    Spend $5m to mitigate the San Bruno slowdown or spend $300m to save less time via new SF tunnels? WWPBQDD?

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  8. By the way Richard I fully agree with keeping cost under control. To get the best HSR system for a reasonable cost we will need many such clever and thoughtful solutions such as you describe. The optimal solution should other factors in addition to cost, including but not limited to: performance, convenience, environment, safety, aesthetics ...

    I regret my ignorant use of the word 'tunnel' pulled the pin you your grenade. :p

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  9. There is, of course, a shiny new maintenance facility within walking distance of Diridon station (which would have been a major Bay Area terminus under the Altamont Plan). And another maintenance area possibility one stop further north at Santa Clara (currently claimed by BART, because BART just can't have too many maintenance facilities...).

    Ok, perhaps neither is big enough to depreciate 40 HSTs overnight, but wouldn't require 2-mile long 160kph track either.

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  10. What's wrong with placing maintenance in San Jose? That way the first trains of the day would be SJ-SF commuter runs; there would already be two trains parked at SFTT to provide the first SF-LA service before the SJ-SF trains get there and turn around.

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  11. "What's wrong with placing maintenance in San Jose?"

    Non-revenue (dead-heading) operating costs.

    CHSRA's service model is that everything runs to SF, and so trips to a storage yard 50 miles away are a large expense.

    In a very different (ie Swiss!) universe one might imagine your model of double-purposing HS storage moves as scheduled Caltrain runs working, but everything else we see (including certain North-Eastern USA blog commenters who think that the NEC model of separate and unequal parallel universe operators is what makes for "a railroad" ...) indicates this isn't how HSRA intends to require its concessionaires to operate.

    If they don't require it (which is what the Swiss do to make international trains accept regular Swiss tickets once they're inside the borders -- make it a condition of operating) then it's certain the HS operators won't volunteer for it, and there's no way Caltrain could rely on it.

    That aside, and even in such a non-US, benefit-maximizing reality, a yard closer to the major terminal is better than one much further away. With different service peak patterns there are inevitably going to be times when there are going to be more HS ytsid with nothing to do than there are Caltrain service slots with no trains to fill them, so somebody's (HS or Caltrain) is going to have to be stored out of service somewhere near SF anyway. I'd vote for the trains with the higher hourly operating cost (ie HS).

    For the record, I think that Bayshore is the best practical storage and maintenance yard location, for both HSR and for Caltrain. (What are the odds that CHSRA would even consider any sort of joint facility for any purpose, including station platforms? Dream on!)

    I also think that a modest storage location near SJ is necessary because (a) SJ should be the terminal of the Altamont-Fremont-SJ line (of course) and (b) even with the Los Banos catastrophe, reality is going to set in some day and people are going to work out that running nearly empty HSR trains up and down the peninsula, chasing each other a few minutes apart, is completely insane -- terminating some subset of trains in SJ and providing convenient transfers to either fast Caltrain or a closely-following HSR will make more sense.

    If you look at their crazed, alternate universe "Phase 1 service plan" sample timetable (p24) you'll insanities like four HSRs, most of them supposedly double-headers, following each other along Caltrain within the space of 15 minutes.

    Now if -- if -- on Planet Earth there really were demand for that many trains between SJ, Los Banos and points south, that doesn't mean there's that much need for extra empty seats on mostly empty trains to be clogging up the heavily used tracks between SJ and SF.

    But even at less over-the-top service levels via Los Banos it would make sense to either (a) run a HS train in place of a Caltrain express, making the same stops and accepting the same fare media and/or (b) terminate the HS train in SJ with a cross platform transfer to a Caltrain, on which the HS fare is accepted.

    (Here again, I'm just copies what is proven to work and work excellently in Switzerland, not come up with anything original.)

    Summary: Bayshore's needed, but at nothing like CHSRA over-build scale.

    A smaller storage and turnback facility in SJ should be on the table.

    PS There are also some good and cheap storage-only locations for Caltrain and/or HSR available north of Bayshore, if only anybody cared to think. (Along the ROW between tunnels 2 and 3 in SF south of Cezar Chavez Street; underneath Townsend Street or nearby if DTX were designed remtely competently; and in the platforms of Transbay itself.)

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  12. In favor of James, I think a reasonable argument can be made for another tunnel to support 2 northbound tracks. The variance in train times will be large enough at the end of both Caltrain and HSR runs into SF to support it. The 22nd station of course doesn't help things either.

    Of course, if you're building a another tunnel, the incremental cost of making wide enough to double track make it cost effective to build.

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  13. @ Anon @ 00:48

    Thanks Anon. But it is not that I am for the tunnel, I only mentioned it because a tunnel is in the current preliminary version of the CHSRA plans. Unfortunately CHSRA planners may not be flexible enough to consider, otherwise logical arguments. Worst case, as Richard points out, such decisions may be biased. More commonly, people who work with large amounts of public money become desensitized to the value of money. Just because they can build a gold plated pile of poop to SFO, that -do do- it.

    In civil engineering, a grade elevation choice can have a huge impact on cost. A little careful planning can minimize the cost by shifting the elevation a few feet. We need that careful thought now. Not just a lazy decision to do it the expensive way because I can't be bothered.
    This Blog has had some extensive discussions of the approach to SF and some of the trade-offs. Presumably the CHSR engineers have access to much better data. Many of the key issues raised on this and other Blogs deserve consideration much more than the squeaky wheel NIMBYs who grab the press attention.

    A full engineering analysis should consider all options. The real engineers doing the work should make an honest assessment of all options, free from politics, and balance all requirements. Hopefully such technical decisions can survive the politics that is a part of this project.

    There are a host of issues that can make or break the project cost and schedule.

    CHSR you listening!

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  14. @ Richard Mlynarik -

    we touched on the subject of HSR Phase One Yards over on Robert's blog back in May.

    While I agree with Clem that Bayshore would be the nearest place to park HSR trains overnight, there is the option of revenue runs to San Jose last thing in the evening and possibly, back up to SF first thing in the morning.

    CHSRA is not a railroad, so it would be entirely possible to let Caltrain retail tickets for those runs even if they neither own the HSR rolling stock nor provide staff to operate it.

    A legitimate question is how many trainsets could be/would need to be parked in San Jose, in addition to the eight penciled in for the TTC in SF. Up to 12 might be possible there without any expensive tail tracks if (a) HSR and Caltrain local trainsets use the same platform height and (b) four additional parking spaces for Caltrain locals can be arranged in the south-west corner of 4th & King in the context of constructing the DTX tunnel portal.

    CHSRA is also counting on some - presumably very small - number of trains delivering long-distance commuters from Merced to SF in the morning (and back again in the evening).

    Btw: I agree entirely on the speed issue. There is absolutely no need for trains to enter or leave a yard for overnight parking at 100mph, anywhere, ever.

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  15. "I think a reasonable argument can be made for another tunnel to support 2 northbound tracks. The variance in train times will be large enough at the end of both Caltrain and HSR runs into SF to support it. The 22nd station of course doesn't help things either."

    The smart way to engineer this is to build the facility to buffer schedule variation out where it is cheap(er) to construct, and then use the cheaper facilities to schedule and operate the critical and not-check (tunnel!!!) sections as fluidly as possible.

    So for the two track, tunnel-infested approach to SF from Bayshore to Mission Bay, that means using the quadruple track and the station stop to very slightly rejigger train order when necessary. For example at Bayshore if an on-time non-stop is less than 3 minutes behind a late train making a stop at 22nd Street, then hold the local. Otherwise, proceed as you were, and the worst delay is 30 seconds. With intelligent operation, the single 22nd intermediate stop is no obstacle to near optimal scheduling and very high two-track throughput.

    Southbound is trivial: trains leave the terminal (where more platform tracks than approach tracks is the buffer we use) in the correct order. No excuses.

    It's not rocket scienece to slot things in so that a critical section flows freely when you have some small buffer luxury at the ends and when the section is short enough.

    Bayshore-Mission Bay and Mission Bay-Transbay *do* both meet this description, *if* "done right".

    There is an *even worse* example of *doing things wrong* with the TJPA DTX, where the cost-plus-plus-plus plan is to run *three* tracks from an underground, 100%-HSR-incompatible station to an underground, 70%-Caltrain-incompatible terminal.

    Instead of the minor brain work of making trains enter the short, expensive and operations critical section in an order that keeps things flowing, TJPA think ("think") that any old train should show up at any old time and if things get gummed up ... well they can just halt and halt the train in the luxurious three-track tunnel until things clear up. (Their proposed signal system includes a mid block called "CP Hold-out"! Hurry up and wait ... underground.)

    Dumb dumb dumb! And as expensive as hell to dig.

    The concept that would be good for somebody to hav e in mind is that tunnels are extremely expensive to build and to maintain, and so they're the worst possible place - even ignoring the safety considerations of confined spaces and fire and other risks - to have trains parked or moving st less than optimum speed for maximum throughput.

    *Run* trains, don't *park* them!

    Unfortunately TJPA and CHSRA seem to be following the concrete-not-brains route and putting as many tracks underground as possible with no plan of how or whether or why to use them, and then *parking trains underground* - either waiting at signals, or wastefully reversing in those must-have US-only cost-plus tail track appendages.

    A superior alternative to overbuilding tunnels is to *plan* to operate the expensive tunnel sections more intelligently, and, if intelligence determines more is neeeded, to expand the infrastructure (crossovers mainly, maybe extra platform or extra tracks if *analyzed* and shown to be necessary) *outside* the tunnels.

    For the train line into San Francisco, a smart engineer would see that you already have or can build what's needed for this: a station at Bayshore with extra tracks; universal crossovers at Bayshore, a station at Mission Bay with universal crossovers and extra tracks; and *island* platforms at both stations so that any train can be assigned use any track in any direction without making passengers run between different platforms and delaying train boarding.

    Good engineers try to work smarter, not harder. Sadly they appear to be a locally extinct species, deprived of the habitat they need in order to thrive, or even subsist, due to policy of illegal clear-cutting.

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  16. Would these shared track solutions require CAHSR to get an FRA waiver?

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  17. There's talk over on this thread

    about a rumor mentioned in a Chronicle op-ed that CAHSR is looking at building a station on the rectangle bordered by Mission, main, harrison and beale.

    If they built a large enough station to accomodate caltrain's grandiose plans for 4th and King, could they use the yard at 4th and King as a maintenance facility? It doesn't appear to be large enough to meet their requirements, but could they make do if they had a large station at beale and main to park trains at overnight?

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  18. What about the original - though never used - boarded-up second tunnels sitting right next the the ones currently used by Caltrain in SF? I understand that they were built by SP durring the original construction of the Bayshore cutout for just such an occasion, quad tracking and increased operation levels.

    Also, how could more tunnels be built under the pillar forest of 280 around the 22nd st station?

    Is the DTX tunnel expected to start its decent north or south 16th st?

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  19. (Here again, I'm just copies what is proven to work and work excellently in Switzerland, not come up with anything original.)

    Right. And I'd rather California copied what is proven to work and work excellently in Japan. In Japan, the first few Shinkansen trains each day are Kodama trains serving long-distance commuters. The trains don't all start at the same station because Japan has nothing like San Jose - the closest equivalent in terms of location is Yokohama, which is connected to Tokyo by about 2,352,409 regional commuter lines.

    The ridership estimates CAHSR released are a complete crock, unless for some reason the prices are set in such a way to maximally encourage Palmdale-LA commuting and NorCal-Anaheim travel and maximally discourage SJ-SF commuting and NorCal-LA travel.

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  20. "Even in the US we have cases in which trains operate at 160+ kph this close to city centers.

    See, for example, Boston...."

    Any other such examples in the US?

    "This real-world example suggests that it would be prudent to assume 160 kph operations up until Islais Creek."

    It's prudent to consider the possibility, and to calculate how much time it saves per dollar of construction expense. It's not prudent to assume anything.

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  21. The best investments are always operational improvements (decreasing dwell times)

    Fair enough, I agree with you there.

    At a minimum, no more than 3 tracks should be necessary from Bayshore to 4th & King (two inbound, one outbound). And in principle two could work, although it leaves you very little flexibility.

    Any other such examples in the US?

    Unfortunately I don't have my NEC timetables with me. But I'm pretty confident that eastbound Amtraks run at 100-110 mph until about a mile before they approach the curve at CP Arsenal, which itself is about 1.5 miles west of Philadelphia 30th St Station. So you're still talking 160+ kph until 2.5-3.0 miles from the station. It's also the case that eastbound Amtraks run at 110 mph until less than 2 miles west of Newark Penn Station. But I don't know if you want to consider Newark a destination... :-/

    It's prudent to consider the possibility, and to calculate how much time it saves per dollar of construction expense.

    What's the cost of designing for 100+ mph? The track is straight in this section anyway. They're already going to have PTC signaling. All you're talking about is maintaining the track to Class 6 instead of Class 4. That's almost no cost at all.

    Note that I'm not saying that I agree with building a storage yard with 160 kph tracks. That definitely seems like overkill. I was only taking issue with Richard's claim that there is never a case in which you'd see operations at 160 kph this close to the city center/major station.

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  22. Adirondacker1280015 September, 2009 18:30

    including certain North-Eastern USA blog commenters who think that the NEC model of separate and unequal parallel universe operators is what makes for "a railroad"

    I use the example of the Northeast Corridor for many reasons. People know where Philadelphia is in relation to New York City and Washington D.C. If they want to go look at the schedules they are in English. The tickets are priced in US dollars. Trains actually run on it and usually keep to schedule. Scary things like level boarding onto electric trains too. Reasonably good connections to other rail systems, where the schedules are in English and priced in US dollars. I'm familiar with it. I'm especially fond of the cross platform transfer available in Newark between PATH and NJTransit/Amtrak. I never said it was run well or the fare structure made sense. To paraphrase another commenter on another thread, 125 MPH train service is very nice, you Californians should try it.

    which is what the Swiss do to make international trains accept regular Swiss tickets once they're inside the borders

    But it's not easy to use your bus pass good for 2 zones on a international train. You have to make a reservation, pay a booking charge and upgrade the amount of zones. Have to upgrade your zones if you want to go farther than you pass allows on the bus too. If you buy a daytime pass and stay out late you have to upgrade with a nighttime supplement. I haven't looked at the website recently. I seem to remember that there is a pass that lets you travel anywhere anytime on any mode. At the currency conversion rates then in effect it was a bit over $3,000.00 a year and if you want to get on the through train you still have to reserve a seat and pay a booking charge. Not much of bargain considering that Switzerland could fit inside Los Angeles county with room leftover. And very user friendly upgrading and supplementing things thither hither and yon. Whoppee it all gets done at one ticket vending machine.


    If you look at their crazed, alternate universe "Phase 1 service plan" sample timetable (p24) you'll insanities like four HSRs, most of them supposedly double-headers, following each other along Caltrain within the space of 15 minutes.

    8 trains departing to the same desintination, between 5AM and 6AM, is overly optimistic, anywhere in the world. passengers are still asleep. Just for fun I checked southbound schedules on the NYC subway system. Only two lines, the 6 and 7 have more than 6 trains an hour beween 5 and 6 . The 6 has 8 trains southbound. The 7 has 9 trains during that period. Two of them are expresses. I didn't analyze things like the A train going from local service to express service when the B train starts to run. Again I used the NYC subway system because the geography is easy to understand and the schedules are in English.

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  23. Adirondacker1280015 September, 2009 18:33

    I don't know if you want to consider Newark a destination... :-/

    It doesn't have a BART station so it can't be a destination. ;-)

    I doubt all the people working in the skyscapers in downtown Newark live in Newark. Penn Station in Newark is Amtrak's 13th busiest station so someone considers it a destination.

    There's four trains an hour during the peak on the Raritan Valley line so a few people have Newark in mind when they board the train, even though it's not their destination. (Most Raritan Valley trains terminate or orginate at Newark) Many of them transfer across the platform to the PATH which runs every "3 to 5 minutes" during rush hours. Some of them loiter around for a few minutes until a NEC train or a North Jersey Coast train arrives that can take them to Penn Station in NYC. I'd have to go look at schedules for an hour or so to get an accurate count but during rush hour there's more than a bus a minute on Market Street and then all the buses on the Raymond Blvd side. And there's a few people on the subway. 30 years ago people would drive to Penn Station , park the car and use the train. Most of those parking lots are now skyscraper office buildings so there aren't as many people using Newark for park-n-ride but I'm sure it's done. ( I would if the timing was right, parking regulations get much more liberal late in the afternoon a few blocks from the station )

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  24. Again I used the NYC subway system because the geography is easy to understand and the schedules are in English.

    Or, you may have used the subway system because in New York service disruptions are preplanned and announced ahead of time, unlike in some other cities, where the operator skimps on safety inspections and then discovers it needs to pull 75% of the rolling stock on less than a day's notice.

    The people who run the MTA may be corrupt and bloated and have no clue how trains run in the rest of the world, but at least they aren't that stupid.

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  25. unlike in some other cities, where the operator skimps on safety inspections and then discovers it needs to pull 75% of the rolling stock on less than a day's notice.

    The problem is that Berlin is so far from the Swiss border. If it were closer like, say, Munchen, then some of that magic Swiss pixie dust might have floated over the city and none of this would have ever happened. ;-)

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  26. @ Alon Levy, mike -

    the reason the S-Bahn in Berlin is operating on an emergency timetable right now is indeed that management at Deutsche Bahn skimped on maintenance of the rolling stock.

    However, the reason has nothing to do with distance from Switzerland and everything to do with the desire to partially privatize train operations in Germany. Between the related ICE3/ICE-T debacle last summer and the general bear market following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the IPO was shelved. This new fiasco with the S-Bahn in Berlin means it may well stay shelved for some considerable time, much to the chagrin of the federal finance ministry.

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  27. I know you think you're being funny and cutting and everything, but the sort of flip, "there he goes again", NIH BS that you're either ironically or non-ironically projecting is exactly the attitude of our objectively non-achieving and objectively ignorant and objectively unqualified local engineering club uses to discard any alternatives or any suggestions of any type coming from any direction.

    I read once somewhere that a train in Italy had a crash. Get out of here with that Euro-weenie stuff!

    I saw on the web that Switzerland had a power failure. They don't know anything.

    Yeah, in Hong Kong they operate more trains per hour than I say is possible, but Asians don't value life the way we do. (Actual words from actual senior Transbay JPA rail engineering consultant.)

    That's all well and good to bring that up, but everybody knows that transfers kill ridership.

    You say everything in Europe is perfect, but look here, HSL-Zuid is five years late (and counting), so you're full of shit.

    All very funny indeed.

    So just lay off the boring "taking lessons from the most successful (by objective metrics) transportation operation anywhere on the planet" schtick, and let's get back to anecdotes about Metro North, where all the signs are in English. (Actual attitude of actual PBQD Senior Rail Operations Engineer dictating CHSRA criteria, not just random blog commenters.)

    Facts are stupid things.

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  28. Richard, the point is, the German-speaking world doesn't have the "most successful (by objective metrics) transportation operation anywhere on the planet." From the point of view of Tokyo, there's no difference between Berlin, London, and New York.

    Even from the point of view of the US, Germany and Switzerland are not that superior. London has the same rail ridership per capita as Berlin, without through-routing or schedule and fare integration, and without needing to cut service by a factor of 4 due to safety issues. In Tokyo, per capita rail ridership is almost twice that of both Berlin and London - and the operators are safety-minded and don't cut corners on brake inspections.

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  29. Isn't the actual PBQD Senior Rail Operations Engineer British? I think he's a veteran of 1970s British Rail, which is a reason to worry. Why do we get the rejects???

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  30. @Tim

    Okay, looking at my NEC TT, track speed is 100 mph up to MP 3, after which it drops to 70 mph. 30th St. is at MP 1.5, so you're probably doing 100 mph until less than 2 miles west of 30th St.

    @Richard

    I don't think the NEC is particularly well run (and, with a few exceptions, certainly not well-designed). I have no doubt that the Swiss are much better in most respects. But that's exactly my point - if even the NEC can operate trains at 160 kph within 2-3 miles of the city center, then anyone can potentially do it, and you shouldn't purposely design your system to exclude it. Of course, that also doesn't mean you should accommodate it at any cost. (And again, I see no need for 160 kph tracks inside the yard itself.)

    As for your point regarding flip comments, I think virtually everyone here agrees that CHSRA should be turning to experienced international (i.e., European and Japanese) suppliers/designers/operators first and using off-the-shelf stuff whenever possible (i.e., almost always). The only reason you're seeing these comments about the Germans and the Swiss is because your own rhetoric is so over-the-top (which, truth be told, I often find entertaining, but you can't expect people not to remark on it).

    Even when Caltrain et al actually are as egregiously idiotic and incompetent as you argue, all of the colorful adjectives don't really help you convince most people. It may be cathartic to curse their incompetence in as many ways as you can imagine, but it doesn't really help rally people to the cause...

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  31. Mike, do you have a link to this NEC TT?

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  32. Adirondacker1280016 September, 2009 20:20

    Mike, do you have a link to this NEC TT?

    I suspect he's looking at an employee timetable. Paper thing, that doesn't need electricity etc. to work.

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  33. I suspect he's looking at an employee timetable. Paper thing, that doesn't need electricity etc. to work.

    Correct. Mine is pretty old (circa early-2000s)...I think or got it from a kind Amtrak conductor. Or maybe off EBay. I don't remember.

    At any rate, if you have any simple questions that you want answered, I can try to address them.

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  34. Are there any major slow zones between Frankford Junction and Newark? On Google Maps the tracks seem pretty straight, but the timetable is slower than you'd guess based on a maximum speed of 125 mph and one station stop at Trenton.

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  35. London has the same rail ridership per capita as Berlin

    This is apples-and-oranges comparison. Berlin's public transit system (and all other aspects of its public service sector) is a notorious "basket-case". Berlin is combination of inherited inefficiencies of Communist East Germany, and government-welfare for West.

    If managers did fudge maintenance, then at least they will go to jail...which is more than you can say about Washington Metro.

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  36. @ anon @ 13:10 -

    yes, Tony Daniels is British and he used to work for British Rail in the 1970. He quit when they decided against developing a true HSR network in the UK and set about making one happen in the US. There's no basis for labeling him a reject.

    Bob Doty of Caltrain fame participated in the design of HS1 in the UK.

    So why aren't there any French, Germans, Spaniards, Italians, Koreans, Chinese or Japanese on CHSRA's core engineering staff? Dunno.

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  37. Berlin's public transit system (and all other aspects of its public service sector) is a notorious "basket-case".

    No, it actually has the largest rail ridership in the German-speaking world, both in absolute numbers and relative to population. Munich, the richest city in Germany, has a slightly lower ridership relative to population. Frankfurt, the second richest, has a lower ridership per capita than New York and Jurassic era signaling.

    If managers did fudge maintenance, then at least they will go to jail...which is more than you can say about Washington Metro.

    Nobody's going to jail there, yet. However, the management did get fired en masse a few months ago.

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  38. Alon:

    Actually, you can now get track speed and speed restrictions all the way from Delaware to NYP on Rich Green's map:

    http://www.richegreen.com/NJSEPTAV5.pdf

    Between Frankford and Newark, the only major SR is the reverse curve at Elizabeth (55 mph, for Acela or Amfleet...usually for curves Acela gets a higher speed restriction than Amfleet). Everything else is 100+ mph except for 95 mph curves at Trenton and Lincoln (95 mph for Acela...Amfleet is only 80 mph on the curve west of Lincoln).

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  39. I ran into a fellow the other day, and was surprised to learn that there was an engineering team at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), years ago, heavily involved in HSR.

    They did a lot of work on what became Spain's system, from what he told me.

    So there is indeed US born HSR engineering here in the US.

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  40. HSR Crashworthiness analysis at SRI.

    http://www.sri.com/psd/fracture/tr_crash.html

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  41. Let me see if I follow this.

    California is planning to build a double-Y HSR system, with a common trunk through the Central Valley, dividing between Sacramento and SF in the north and Anaheim and San Diego in the South.

    The preferred alignment between San Diego and San Francisco is the Caltrain alignment, as local rail corridor that has dominant northern trips in the morning and dominant southern trips in the evenings.

    So at the outset, the big northern overhaul and major maintenance center ought to be near the fork of the Y, such as Merced, 74 minutes away from San Francisco.

    And Caltrain ought to have its own overhaul and major maintenance center to the south of the primary SJ/SF corridor.

    And San Jose would be less than forty minutes away from the SF terminus for an express HSR run.

    So if a northern major maintenance center has stabling capacity for a large number of trains, then forty five minutes later trains from Merced could begin passing SJ going north. That is a maximum of 8 HSR trains that would need stabling at San Jose.

    And a train that heads out of San Jose at the start of the service day would certainly be ready to run back out of San Francisco in an hour. So a network maximum of stabling for 12 services would be required.

    So, how much acreage is required to stable a maximum of 12 HSR sets, including facilities for a small night team to work through third shift to service the trains?

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  42. Adirondacker1280019 September, 2009 11:38

    So, how much acreage is required to stable a maximum of 12 HSR sets, including facilities for a small night team to work through third shift to service the trains?

    Not much. On the other hand it doesn't make sense to be deadheading trains if they can avoid it cheaply. The Brisbane yard is more or less empty now. If 50 years from now they need space it's going to be very very expensive to find it.

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  43. @ adirondacker12800 -

    who said anything about dead-heading? SF to SJ is a revenue opportunity both late at night and early in the morning.

    Stabling in Gilroy, let alone Merced, would be a more questionable proposition.

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  44. Adirondacker1280025 September, 2009 10:00

    who said anything about dead-heading? SF to SJ is a revenue opportunity both late at night and early in the morning.

    Caltrain is still going to be running a local, the HSR train isn't going to stop at Bayshore and Menlo Park. So instead of 100 people on the Caltrain local there'd be 80 people on the Caltrain local and 25 on the HSR. Railroad cars get sent in for maintenance based on how many miles they have traveled. How many passengers do they have to carry between San Francisco and San Jose at 11 o'clock at night to make the extra 45 miles worth it? Conductor and engineer aren't going to do it for free, they are going to want to be paid for that extra 20 minutes. How badly does the schedule get screwed up when they can't get the 5:15 to pass it's brake test and they have to send in a replacement from San Jose which takes 45 minutes versus one from Brisbane which takes 20?

    Even though Caltrain has lots of reverse commuters they are still going to have a peak towards San Francisco in the morning and towards San Jose in the evening. It would be handy for them to have a yard close to San Francisco too.

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  45. Ooh.... JOBS. Brisbane *ought* to like this.

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