25 June 2011

The Truth About CBOSS

$16 million was recently awarded by the FRA for the CBOSS project, Caltrain's Communications-Based Overlay Signal System. Caltrain CEO Michael Scanlon states in a Caltrain press release: "This initial federal investment will enable Caltrain to take an important step forward in our efforts to provide Bay Area communities with a modernized, sustainable commuter rail system that is fully compatible with future high-speed rail service". His counterpart at the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Roelof van Ark, intones in a CHSRA press release: "This latest step forward in federal support for California’s project means that we’ll be able to improve safety and service in the near term and integrate our project with local systems in the long term."

Fully compatible with high-speed rail service? Integrate HSR with local systems? Really?

Let's take a closer look.
As regular readers know, CBOSS has often been criticized on this blog. Rather than rehash extensive previous commentary on CBOSS, let's rely on cold, hard facts obtained solely from primary source documents. You get to decide!

The Evidence

Exhibit A: Caltrain CBOSS Request For Proposal Package, Questions Received and Answers No. 3, dated 6 October 2010. Question #20 from a prospective bidder: "What assumptions should me made in terms of HSR? (Interoperability, Operations, sharing track, etc.)" The answer from Caltrain: "Under current RFP Scope of work, HSR Operations is not considered for this phase of PTC implementation."

Exhibit B: Caltrain CBOSS Request for Proposal Package, Questions Received and Answers No. 4, dated 9 October 2010. Question #16 from a prospective bidder: "Part 2, Section 3, Exh B, Spec 21001, 1.03D requires the system to be interoperable with California HSR signaling. HSR is undefined at this stage. As this solution is not known, Contractor cannot assess any effort associated with this interoperability requirement. Please clarify how Contractor should assess." The answer from Caltrain: "Interoperability with HSR signaling is not part of the Scope of work for Caltrain PTC system RFP."

Exhibit C: Caltrain CBOSS Request for Proposal Package, Questions Received and Answers No. 6, dated 15 October 2010. Question #31 from a prospective bidder: "The RFP addresses HSR. What assumptions should the proposer make in order to address HSR requirements?" The answer from Caltrain: "Evaluation of the potential for the proposed solution to meet future HSR needs will not be part of the proposal evaluation."

Exhibit D: Caltrain's Positive Train Control Implementation Plan, a 183-page document required by law to be submitted to the FRA and detailing how Caltrain will implement its new signaling system, mentions HSR exactly once in the introduction on page 1-1. That's a slight improvement over a previous revision of the document, rejected by the FRA, which did not mention HSR at all. Section 5.1 of the document, discussing Interoperability with other railroads, does not mention or discuss HSR. Appendix D, containing letters of understanding to coordinate PTC implementation with other rail entities, does not include the CHSRA.

Exhibit E: Caltrain's Positive Train Control Notice of Product Intent, a 50-page document that describes how CBOSS will operate, explains in Appendix A section 12 the interoperability with other rail entities. Out of five paragraphs, four mention the Union Pacific, and zero mention California high-speed rail.

Exhibit F: The California High-Speed Rail Authority's extensive collection of technical memos includes Technical Memo 3.3.1, released 25 June 2010, detailing the concept of the system that will be used to control trains on the high-speed rail network. Section 1.2.4, Automatic Train Control Specification Requirements, states "The prime requirement for the CHSTP ATC system is that the technology must already exist as part of an operating system with proven experience worldwide on at least one high speed passenger railway." CBOSS clearly does not fall into this category, which means CHSRA will necessarily use another train control system than CBOSS on its own tracks.

Serious Questions

In light of all this evidence, the happy talk about CBOSS paving the way for HSR rings hollow, and raises some serious questions:
  • Is the Caltrain leadership (board and CEO) even aware of the details of the program being carried out by staff and consultants? Do they know that interoperability with HSR is explicitly excluded from the CBOSS RFP?

  • What is the plan for making CBOSS interoperable with HSR? Might it make sense to develop such a plan before awarding the CBOSS implementation contract, which may happen in the next couple of months?

  • Does the $251 million budget for CBOSS include the cost to make CBOSS interoperable with high-speed rail, as specifically excluded in the current RFP, or will taxpayers be asked for even more money?

  • Does the Caltrain and CHSRA leadership (respective CEOs and Boards) know that California HSR is slated to use a different train control system than CBOSS?

  • If California high-speed trains will use another train control system than CBOSS, why is federal HSR money being spent on the development of CBOSS? Can or should Caltrain expect HSR monies to cover the remaining 90% of the CBOSS cost that is not yet funded?

  • How, why and when were existing train control technologies, such as ERTMS, the standard that shows the strongest signs of being favored for HSR in California (see TM-3.1.1 section 6.1), eliminated from consideration on the peninsula corridor?
The local press has spent numerous column-inches, sometimes even two-page spreads, covering the Caltrain CEO's compensation package. But this is $16 million we're talking about, heading rapidly for $251 million. And not a peep from the press.


  1. Great article Clem:

  2. What I personally don't understand is why Caltrain is developing CBOSS at all. It's reasonable to put out an RFP to install such a system, and there are plenty of existing systems that can do what Caltrain wants from their PTC implementation, including ACSES (which Amtrak knows how to deal with) and ETCS. If they really really want interoperability with UP, they can just buy whatever UP is getting.

  3. "What I personally don't understand is why Caltrain is developing CBOSS at all."

    That's very, very very easy to understand.

    "Rent Seeking".

    If the lunatics -- and outright self-serving fraud-enabling consultants and agency iniders -- are put in charge of the asylum, then only bedlam can ensue.

    If the people setting the "requirements" are the exact same as those who profit from the same, there's only one possible outcome.

    If you're a third-rate (by definition) American transportation "professional" who would not even qualify for a job interview elsewhere in the world, but you desperately want to be a big fish (in a really, really REALLY small pond), and you want to send your "career" off with a bang, then OF COURSE you're going to create "requirements" and "specifications" that demand the unique "expertise" of you and your buddies, and of course nothing else in the world could possibly be suited to the Extra Special Unique Local Circumstances that Only You Understand. (And certainly no "armchair engineers", from outside the SamTrans bunker in San Carlos could possibly understand. It's all too complex for your little minds!)

    This is all the same as PBQD's Los Banos alternatives "analysis", Ka-Ching!

    Exactly the same as 9tph HSR on the peninsula "demand". Ka-ching!

    Exactly the same as Transbay "design". Ka-ching!

    It's very simple to understand, and it's been happening for a long long time with no signs of any change. I mean, aside from the public (and who the hell cares about them?) whose interests are served by cheaper, faster, and more reliable? The answer: nobody's. Nobody who counts.

    Also note that when CBOSS does eventually fail, Mike Scanlon, Caltrain's $400+k/year CEO, and the individual with whom the buck might nominally be expected to stop, will either plead "who could ever have imagined it?" and continue to personally oversee the destruction of public transportation on the SF peninsula, or he'll be golden parachuted out, with a payoff in the multi-year salary range (see this year's firings of Muni and BART heads), and all this after he's reaching a very very very comfortable retirement age and position regardless. Win-win!

    The system is explicitly designed to work this way, and if functions without a hitch. Failure is always rewarded, and very handsomely indeed.

  4. "aside from the public (and who the hell cares about them?)"


  5. What is interesting is that the office press release from the Authority on this grant:


    indicates that the Authority views CBOSS only has being useful to preserve safety during the construction phase of the project along the peninsula.

    Therefore, I guess we are to believe that $251 million is to be spent for use for 5 to 6 years during construction, at which time it will be discarded?

    Does anyone here have what is a reasonable budget for PTC implementation elsewhere?

  6. Morris, here's just one (Anglophone, even) example.

    This is a significantly larger and more complex system (branches, junctions, multiple lines) than our trivial little back and forth shuttle line, and far more and more useful deliverables are part of the Auckland project. They're replacing the sort of obsolete primitive relay-based equipment Caltrain is still installing today!!), they incluyde a modern train dispatching system (Caltrain recently wasted $10.2 million of your tax dollars rolling it own Very Special Needs control system, etc. I see regular progress reports from NZ on the installation of ETCS signalling and of erection of electrification infrastructure.

    All told, they're getting perhaps three to five times as much value for money as Caltrain's tax-paying funding suckers ... and that's before the guaranteed budget and schedule blowouts of Special Needs CBOSS.


    Auckland ETCS Level 1 contract (Railway Gazette International 28.April.2009)

    Auckland to install ETCS Level 1

    28 April 2009

    Auckland's metropolitan network is being resignalled and electrifie

    NEW ZEALAND: National infrastructure manager Ontrack has selected Invensys Rail Group to supply and install ETCS Level 1 train control equipment for its Auckland metropolitan area resignalling, in conjunction with the modernisation and electrification of the suburban network. This is the first application of the European Rail Traffic Management System in New Zealand.

    Under an A$75m contract awarded to Westinghouse Rail Systems Australia, the equipment is to be installed over 30 months. As well as the ETCS Level 1, providing cab signalling and ATP as an intermittent overlay to lineside signals, WRSA will install its service-proven Westrace Mk II modular solid-state interlockings, minimising the amount of lineside infrastructure and cabling required.

    In addition, Invensys Rail Group will provide its SystematICS train management system to support automatic route setting, with two independent control centres. All tracks are to be equipped for bidirectional working, providing operational flexibility and additional capacity for both passenger and freight trains.

    WRSA says it will work with local contractors to undertake civil construction and electrical installations, providing ongoing support from its offices in Auckland and Australia. The company will also provide training for Ontrack staff to maintain the trackside and on-train systems.

    According to Ontrack Project Director Murray Hood, WRSA will reduce on-site installation time and minimise disruption to current train operations by installing and testing the new systems in parallel to the old signalling.

  7. Somebody asked to see everybody else's Positive Train Control Implementation Plans (PTCIPs)... here they are:

    PTCIP submittals on regulations.gov

  8. Another English-speaking example. The Australian taxpayers are to get somewhere in the neighbourhood of five to ten times the value for money that Californians will be straight-out defrauded of for CBOSS. (Who ever imaged that Sydney Cityrail might be presented as a relatively positive example?)

    Alstom and RailCorp to modernize Sydney’s New South Wales rail transport signalling system

    Australian operator RailCorp has awarded Alstom several contracts worth € 48 million for its new rail signalling system in a major upgrade that focuses on improving safety across Sydney’s CityRail network. Alstom will deliver an Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system tailored specifically to the requirements of the New South Wales network, based on Level 1 of the proven European Train Control System (ETCS).

    The first 50 newly equipped trains will begin service in 2013. One third of CityRail’s network will be installed with ETCS technology by 2015. In total, 160 trains will be fitted with the equipment, covering over 600 kilometres of track. Furthermore, a nine-year maintenance contract is part of the agreement.

    ETCS level 1 is specifically designed to further improve safety across the network. The system provides an additional layer of security for Sydney’s rail network by using radio transceivers placed at regular intervals along the track which communicate directly with compatible trains.

    The agreement also includes a pilot line for ETCS level 2 which will be installed on the Cronulla Branch Line. Once installed, it would permit more trains per hour with improved safety and reliability.

    ETCS level 2 would give Australia the potential to upgrade to high speed rail,” said Chris Raine, President of Alstom in Australia. “With this pilot line, RailCorp is laying the foundations for Australia’s rail future.”

  9. Seems to me that what will end up happening is HSR will use ETCS and CBOSS, and switch from one to the other as they enter the peninsula. Possibly they will do the same with Metrolink at the LA end of the line- Metrolink are also developing their own system, which they claim will be inter-operable with the systems also being implemented by BNSF (ETMS) and UPRR (V-ETMS).

    An overview of who is implementing what can be found here: http://www.fra.dot.gov/rrs/pages/fp_1265.shtml

  10. Digging down (searching for ETCS) into the documents linked by Clem at regulations.gov, I found the following quote within the AAR's reply (any transcription errors are mine):

    AAR would also like to bring to your attention Appendix B of the Oliver Wyman report, which addresses the European experience with PTC-type systems. UNIFE, an organization representing European suppliers to the railroad industry, has claimed that the European PTC-type systems realize 40 percent increases in capacity. However, as discussed in the Oliver Wyman report, Great Britain's Strategic Rail Authority concluded that European systems comparable to the PTC systems envisioned in the United States would have a negative impact on capacity.

    The report from the NY-office of Oliver Wyman, Inc, available as an extra attachment, has a discussion in appendix B titled 'European ERTMS Experience Case Study'. After hemming and hawing about how the overall goals of ERTMS differs from typical operation of US freight railroads, and recounting the complexity of various levels of ETCS signaling, the essential Oliver Wyman quote is (they mix up ERTMS and ETCS a bit):

    Based on Oliver Wyman's understanding of the ERTMS system, meaningful reductions in headways can only be achieved through the use of the more advanced levels of ERTMS, such as the non-overlay versions of ERTMS Levels 2 and 3, both of which are well beyond the capabilities of the overlay-type PTC systems that are being implemented by the US Class I railroads. Furthermore, the main capacity benefit of reduced headways occurs in situations where trains are following each other in the same direction on the same track, which mostly occurs on multiple track rail routes. While this situation is common in Europe, where the majority of rail routes have two or more tracks, a minority of the PTC routes in the US have multiple tracks.

    What has to be kept in mind is that Oliver Wyman and the AAR, are concerned with PTC operation on US freight railroads, which has a small number of different safety and technical jurisdictions. In their view, ETRMS/ETCS is overkill for their freight problems, and shouldn't be used in the US freight environment.

  11. Here's an interesting tidbit from Union Pacific's PTC plan. They claim their system will have native interoperability with the following railroads:

    Norfolk Southern Railway Company
    CSX Transportation, Inc.
    BNSF Railway Company
    Canadian Pacific Railway Company
    Canadian National Railway Company
    Kansas City Southern Railway Company
    Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis
    Kansas City Terminal Railway
    National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)
    Southern California Regional Railroad Authority (Metrolink)
    Altamont Commuter Express
    Utah Transit Authority
    Commuter Rail Division of the Regional Transportation Authority, a division of the Northern Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation (Metra)
    Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Board
    Dallas Area Rapid Transit

    And technical interoperability (i.e. duplication of two different systems) with the following railroads:

    Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board or “Caltrain”, Communications-Based Overlay Signal System (CBOSS)

    ...and that's it. They go on to discuss the risks of the technical interoperability, noting that "The scope of the safety analysis [...] is effectively tripled" and "such an effort is unprecedented
    for vital safety systems as complex as PTC."

    The FRA also ask "...if UP believes the Communications-Based Overlay Signal System (CBOSS) will be developed and made interoperable with V-ETMS prior to December 31, 2015." UP are non-committal, simply saying they have described the risks associated with this plan and will continue to keep the FRA updated.

    So Caltrain are developing a system which is compatible with neither the developing US freight industry standard nor the expected HSR standard. Unbelievable.

  12. Argh. Re-reading above, I meant functional interoperability, not technical interoperability.

  13. Chairman Steve discusses CBOSS and overall Caltrain executive management.

    Q: So what about [stupid technical program]?

    A: So what about it? It's dead, right. Let me say something, thats sort of generic. I know that some of you spent a lot of time working on stuff that we put a bullet in the head of.

    I apologize. I feel your pain. But [our organization] suffered, for several years, from no ... from lousy engineering management. I have to say it.

    There were people that were going off in eighteen different directions, doing arguably interesting things, in each one of them. Good engineers. Lousy management.

    And what happened is you look at the farm that's been created with all these different animals going in different directions, and it doesn't add up. The total is less than the sum of the parts.

    And so we had to decide, what are the fundamental directions we're going in, and what makes sense, and what doesn't. And there were a bunch of things that didn't. Microcosmically they might have made sense, macrocosmically they made no sense.

    And the hardest things is, you know, when you think about focusing, right, you think, well, focusing is saying "yes". No. Focusing is about saying "no". Focusing is about saying "no". And you've got to say "no, no, no ..." And when you say "no" you piss off people. And they'll talk to the San Jose Mercury and they'll write a shitty article about you. And it's really a pisser. Because, you want to be nice. You don't want to tell the San Jose Mercury that the person telling you this was asked to leave, or... So you take the lumps. ...

    I read some of these articles about people who have left. I know some of these people. They haven't done anything in seven years. ...

    But you know focus is about saying "no". And the result of that focus is going to be some really great products where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts.

    And I was in for putting a bullet in the head of [stupid technical program]. A, I didn't think it was great technology, but, B, It Didn't Fit. The rest of the world isn't going to use [stupid technical program].

  14. Chairman Steve has further comments on CBOSS, and the organizational failures that lead to it, and why Those People Don't Work Here Any Longer:


    I've got to tell you, I have a different point of view on that.

    I think [our organization]'s had its head in the sand for the last many years.

    There has been so much that's happened in terms of [basic international technical interoperability standard], as an example, that [our organization]'s completely missed out on. [Our system] is probably one of the least [standard international technical interoperability standard] in the world, in terms of really making use of powerful [technology]. When [other organization] joined [our organization], they had an extremely sophisticated system for doing [basic international technical interoperability standard] compared to [our organization]. And even now we struggle to get the [our organization] folks to understand it. Because [our system] has been, because of all this proprietary-ness, in every way, because of the attitude of arrogance, that we can not only invent our own [basic international technical interoperability standard], but invent our own this, and invent our own that, and invent our own this -- it's in it's own little world. And the rest of the world, with so much investment, has passed us by.

    And so we need to bring [our system] up into the modern world, in many areas like [basic international technical interoperability standard]. And to do that, because we weren't first, because we didn't set the standards, and they've already been cast in stone, we're going to have to use them.

    So I think the wisdom here is not to say that we've got to invent everything ourselves, tne wisdom here is to know what ten percent, or twenty percent, or thirty percent at most of the stuff we have to invent, and what we should just go use, that exists. ...

    So, I think that this whole notion of being so proprietary in every facitr of what we do has really hurt us. And again, the management and the vision that we had encouraged that. Encouraged people to, you know, go reinvent the wheel out there our own way. And yeah, it might be ten percent better, but usually it ended up being about fifty percent worse, because there's a lot of smart people who don't work at [our organization] too.

  15. Okay, question for Clem, Richard et al.

    Union Pacific, Amtrak and ACE are all going to use V-ETMS, with 'native' interoperability with each other. CAHSR are probably going to use ERTMS, which will be incompatible with V-ETMS.

    Caltrain will soon share their track with CAHSR trains using ERTMS north of Santa Clara, and legacy trains using V-ETMS on the entire length of the corridor. They will also be traveling on Union Pacific track south of Tamien and have to submit to their V-ETMS system.

    Is there any way for Caltrain to avoid having to install both V-ETMS and ERTMS on all their trains?

  16. Jon writes:

    "Is there any way for Caltrain to avoid having to install both V-ETMS and ERTMS on all their trains?

    I suspect Richard Mlynarik would answer:

    Why in the world would you want to do that? It might save some serious money.

  17. Adirondacker1280030 June, 2011 18:13

    CAHSR are probably going to use ERTMS, which will be incompatible with V-ETMS.

    CAHSR will be using a North American version of ERTMS. Who says V-ETMS and ERTMS-NorthAmerican will be incompatible?

  18. Dear Jon,

    It's always been very simple.

    1. Caltrain operates San Jose to San Francisco, using a single train safety system, entirely separate from FRA trains. (They already have approval for time separation from UP freight, so THERE IS NO MIXED TRAFFIC, hence NO NEED FOR CBOSS!!!!!) This Caltrain safety system can be any of a number of different possible choices, including ETCS/ERTMS, or even V-ETMS.

    2. UPRR/ACE/Amtrak/steam trains operate entirely separate from Caltrain, using a single train safety sysytem, from points north to Fremont to Santa Clara through San Jose (on parallel but non-connecting tracks) to Tamien and Gilroy and Watsonville to points south, using the Wabtec-monopoly Made in the USA system V-ETMS. Should the economic basket-case Gilroy trains still run they can do so as FRA trains, using freight-compatible Wabtec-monopoly equipment, entirely separately from the Caltrain mainline, running as an economic basket-case shuttle that terminates at SJ or at Santa Clara. (This is Caltrain's post-electrification plan anyway!)

    There are today three tracks SJ-Santa Clara, with plans to add a fourth. 2 Caltrain, 1 FRA are more than sufficient for the minute levels of existing traffic. An unnecessary extra FRA track (which is planned) could be added for less than the guaranteed cost overruns of CBOSS.

    Today only one track at San Jose Cahill Street station connects to the FRA-only tracks. That can be (and trivially could have been, as part of the hundreds of millions Caltrain is wasting in an utterly misguided construction project there underway as we speak) expanded to make 2 or even 3 platform tracks available for UPRR/ACE/Amtrak/Gilroy, with plenty of space left over for Caltrain-exclusive on the west side of the station site.

    3. There is no dual-equipped rolling stock of any type. This, at a stroke, simplifies and eliminates the worst cause of signal system development costs and failures. Any and all rolling stock movements between the Caltrain/non-FRA and UPRR/FRA sectors is done under the time-separation and physical barrier (derails, etc) regimes which are explicitly allowed by the FRA.

    There is no technical, regulatory, infrastructural, right-of-way or economic barrier to any of the above.

    It solves all problems, at a single stroke.

    The one "problem" that is not solved is that of guaranteed career-long employment for Bob Doty's very very very special CBOSS buddy and his friends. Not diverting $250+ million into the pockets of these rent-seeking criminals will, of course, prove to be an overwhelming obstacle.

    Note that Caltrain's separate system could, either as an interim phase or as a permanent system, in fact be the same Wabtec-monopoly sole-source made-in-the-USA system as the FRA trains use. But it doesn't have to be, and even if it is it would be operated entirely independently, facilitating possible future changes of technology, possible future HSR track-sharing, and most of al facilitating reliable (meaning freight-independent) train operations day in and day out.

  19. Oh no! Morris Brown is tapping my brainwaves!

    So just simplify that wordy response, with no loss of information, and a considerable gain in clarity, to: "Why in the world would you want to do that? It might save some serious money."

    Everybody knows I need an editor.

  20. Adirondacker1280030 June, 2011 19:31

    Wabtec-monopoly Made in the USA .....Wabtec-monopoly sole-source made-in-the-USA system as the FRA trains use.

    Except for the suppliers that have already verified that their products are compatible and inter-operable.

  21. Does anyone know whether the $4 million that were cut from the budget by Brown were the matching funds for the $16 million grant? What does that mean for the grant?

  22. Reality Check04 July, 2011 02:19

    Caltrain eyes track-sharing possibilities
    "Caltrain is close to determining whether its commuter trains can coexist with bullet trains on the same set of tracks, a question that has implications for the construction of high-speed rail along the Peninsula.

    "By the end of July, Caltrain expects to wrap up its study. Caltrain wants to know if it can maintain its existing level of service while sharing its two tracks with high-speed between San Francisco and San Jose."

  23. @ Reality Check

    Can you copy the rest of the article for those of us who haven't subscribed?

  24. "By the end of July, Caltrain expects to wrap up its study. Caltrain wants to know if it can maintain its existing level of service while sharing its two tracks with high-speed between San Francisco and San Jose.""

    I got yer existing level of service plus HSR right here, bub.

    You do know this is how analysis works, right?


    PS Nice work on the timetable generator web thing.

  25. Reality Check05 July, 2011 13:57

    Published Friday, July 1, 2011, by the San Francisco Business Times

    Caltrain eyes track-sharing possibilities

    By Eric Young

    Caltrain is close to determining whether its commuter trains can coexist with bullet trains on the same set of tracks, a question that has implications for the construction of high-speed rail along the Peninsula.

    By the end of July, Caltrain expects to wrap up its study. Caltrain wants to know if it can maintain its existing level of service while sharing its two tracks with high-speed between San Francisco and San Jose.

    That scenario could help appease residents along the Peninsula. Some homeowners who live near the Caltrain right-of-way said they oppose construction of a second set of tracks — as high-speed rail planners have proposed — for bullet train use. The extra set of tracks, they fear, might cause the California High-Speed Rail Authority to use eminent domain to clear a wider path, which could affect homes, schools and businesses along the 48-mile route.

    Caltrain said it supports sharing existing tracks with high-speed rail. The bullet train, Caltrain said, could consider building more tracks at a later date if demand for its service is strong.

    If Caltrain shares tracks with a bullet train “the appeal is that high-speed rail gets to meet its obligation and we get a modernized Caltrain and we don’t have to do construction that could be disruptive,” said Mark Simon, a Caltrain spokesman.

    Caltrain has reason to want the bullet train project to go forward. The commuter rail system, which is in financial straits, has an agreement with high-speed rail planners allowing federal money obtained for the bullet train to be spent on improvements that benefit both systems. Those improvements new signalling systems and installing electric wires above the tracks.

    Some cities seem inclined to favor Caltrain’s proposed shared approach. Both Palo Alto and Menlo Park, two cities that have sued the California High-Speed Rail Authority, are preparing letters supporting the idea of a shared use of Caltrain tracks.

    The California High-Speed Rail Authority has not said if it supports Caltrain’s proposal. Authority CEO Roelof van Ark said the state Attorney General’s Office is studying whether sharing tracks satisfies requirements set out in Proposition 1A, the statewide ballot measure passed in 2008 approving nearly $10 billion in bonds for the project.

    Van Ark also said he wants to see Caltrain’s study to help determine if sharing is feasible.

    From a technical perspective, sharing could prove challenging. High-speed trains need rails and roadbeds that are maintained at higher standards than most passenger and freight lines, said Richard Little, director of USC’s Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy. The Caltrain route is also used by freight trains.

    Eric Young covers law and government for the San Francisco Business Times.
    Contact him at eyoung@bizjournals.com or (415) 288-4969.

  26. OT: will a state "Department of Railroad" have more political clout to change archaic railroad rules that every railroad who share tracks with freight railroads must follow? Presently, CAHSRA is unwilling and unable to challenge these rules due to its limited resources. And of all commuter rail agencies, only Caltrain is proposing running train and high enough frequency to justify fighting the current rule.

  27. Is this news helpful to the development of ERTMS in the US?

    FCC Ruling Favors Transportation-Related
    Use of 700 MHz Broadband Spectrum

  28. Has Clem gone away?

  29. No, still here. Working up some new material, but it takes a long time that I don't always have... stay tuned.

  30. As of Tuesday, it looks like HSR is dead. All signs, financial, political and otherwise, point clearly to its demise. Caltrain will be on its own very soon.

  31. So, the fact that the project is progressing means that it is dead?

  32. Peter, the project is very much progressing as far as the initial Central Valley segment is concerned. They might even put some shovels in the ground and build some marginally useful infrastructure.

    But without a clear commitment from the federal government the entire system is dead. Without private investment, it cannot be paid for. The state has fulfilled its obligation when the figure was $43 billion. I wonder what the state's fair contribution would be with the new cost estimates.

    The situation at the federal level pisses me off but rather than get emotional about it (again) I would rather divert the bond measure to transportation priorities such as Caltrain, Metrolink and Amtrak California.

    The state is going to be entirely on the hook for the Surfliner soon. And then the feds will have little to do with Amtrak California. Let's re-brand it and roll it into a true state rail network with streamlined ticketing. I'd like to see a proposition put on the ballot to take Prop 1A bonds and use it for the state rail network.

  33. An excellent idea.

  34. CalTrain presented a preliminary release of the capacity study at a meeting today (8/17/2011)



    on CalTrain site is a page on the study. The key link to the slide show is:


  35. Press release: Metrolink Positive Train Control now fully funded

    So ... $202 million for the entire 512 mile Metrolink netework, compatible with UP/BNSF, and with an outside chance of working or at least being many people's problem if it doesn't.

    Versus ... $251 million for the little 50 mile Caltrain shuttle line. Compatible with nothing in the entire universe, and no chance at all of functioning.

    Boy would lots of heads be rolling if any of those clowns worked for me! (And by "rolling" I mean "departing from bodies at greater than the local galactic group's escape velocity.")