07 April 2012

Primarily Two Tracks

Figure 4 from Caltrain's study, showing several possible locations for new overtake tracks.  Not all would be built.
In recent days, the high-speed rail Draft Revised 2012 Business Plan as well as the Caltrain Blended Operations Analysis were released to the public.  Both of these documents refer to the peninsula blended solution as a "primarily two-track" system, in the hope of allaying fears of massive eminent domain takings of homes and business-- fears that are largely unfounded, but fanned relentlessly by the local press and project opponents.

The confusion continues over what "primarily two tracks" precisely means, because neither agency seems ready to come out yet and state it in crystal clear terms.  The process still needs to unfold.  Luckily, enough data has already been published to allow a reasonably good reading of the tea leaves, down to the nearest tenth of a mile.

Phase 1 will be electrification, according to the memorandum of understanding currently being put in place by MTC and other parties.  This project already has federal environmental clearance and is very close to state environmental clearance, although a strong push will be made by opponents to subsume Caltrain's electrification EIR into the peninsula HSR project EIR, a document that will not be finalized (let alone litigated!) until 2015.  This phase of the project will not add any tracks, so the total length of quadruple track will stay as it is today (2 miles in Brisbane; 1 mile in Redwood City; 2 miles in Sunnyvale).
  • Purpose: improves Caltrain, enables future peninsula HSR
  • Time frame: 2013 - 2019
  • Total miles of quadruple track: 5
  • Grade-separated fraction: 61% (64 of 104 road crossings)
  • Trains per peak hour per direction: 6
  • Cities impacted by construction: none
Phase 2 will be a concrete viaduct through Santa Clara, completed at the same time as HSR reaches San Jose sometime in the mid-2020's, enabling a one-seat ride to San Francisco under the so-called "Bay-to-Basin" scenario.  If the CHSRA's grandiose plans (described in an October 2011 report to the legislature) are to be believed, this will entail building a massive double-decker station complex at San Jose.  A new four-track HSR station will hulk over the existing Diridon Station, perched on massive concrete straddle bents.  A more than 3-mile-long, 60-foot-tall viaduct will be constructed northwards, joining the existing corridor at approximately milepost 44.5, north of the Santa Clara Caltrain station.  Overpasses at Hedding and De La Cruz will be demolished and rebuilt as underpasses to make room for the new double-deck rail right of way.  Note that Caltrain's study considers this phase as part of the "baseline infrastructure" and therefore does not count it as additional tracks.
  • Purpose: enable single-seat HSR ride to San Francisco
  • Time frame: mid 2020's
  • Total miles of quadruple track: 8
  • Grade-separated fraction: 61% (64 of 104 road crossings) 
  • Trains per peak hour per direction: 8 (6 Caltrain + 2 HSR)
  • Cities impacted by construction: Santa Clara
Phase 3 will be the "short" mid-line overtake from 9th Ave in San Mateo (milepost 18.3) to Whipple Ave in Redwood City (milepost 24.8), which enables HSR service to increase from 2 to 4 trains per hour during the peak.  The data tables in Caltrain's study show that this overtake facility provides nearly all the benefits of the "full" mid-line overtake that extends southwards through Redwood City, but presumably at far lower cost.  The transportation-industrial complex's approach to the short mid-line overtake might very well entail demolishing the entire Belmont - San Carlos grade separation and replacing it with a four-track viaduct on concrete stilts.  A more realistic implementation will likely be to tack on another 15 feet of width on each side of the existing grade separations to accommodate new overtake tracks, something that should have been done in 1999 (but why do it right when you can do it twice?).  In San Mateo, new four-track grade separations will be built at 25th, 28th and 31st Avenues.
  • Purpose: increases HSR peak capacity from 2 to 4 trains per hour per direction
  • Time frame: late 2020's
  • Total miles of quadruple track: 14.5
  • Grade-separated fraction: 63% (67 of 106 road crossings) 
  • Trains per peak hour per direction: 10 (6 Caltrain + 4 HSR)
  • Cities impacted by construction: San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos
Phase 4 will be the "full" mid-line overtake, also known as the Great Redwood City Grade Separation, creating a new mid-peninsula HSR stop at Redwood City and grade-separating a dense cluster of six grade crossings.  The four-track mid-line overtake will be extended southwards to milepost 26.3, merging with the existing four-track section.
  • Purpose: adds mid-peninsula HSR stop
  • Time frame: late 2020's
  • Total miles of quadruple track: 16
  • Grade-separated fraction: 69% (73 of 106 road crossings) 
  • Trains per peak hour per direction: 10 (6 Caltrain + 4 HSR)
  • Cities impacted by construction: Redwood City 
Beyond that, it gets murkier.  Presumably, the 33 remaining grade crossings that are not removed under Phases 1 - 4 will be addressed on a case-by-case basis, with grade separations designed and built in consultation with the respective cities.  San Francisco's downtown extension to the Transbay Transit Center may finally be built.  Additional passing tracks may be constructed where it's relatively easy and cheap, for example the remaining 2.5 miles from Lawrence to Santa Clara and the "north overtake" in Caltrain's study, an additional 8.2 miles of quadruple track from Brisbane south into Burlingame.

Only one thing is quite certain: the peninsula rail corridor will categorically NOT remain a two-track operation, even if it might still use "primarily" two tracks.  At a minimum, approximately 16 miles or over a third of its length will be quadruple-tracked.  As the process unfolds, it will become apparent that the cities of Belmont, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo and Santa Clara will be the first to suffer the construction impacts.


  1. Thanks for breaking this down.

    Dummy question: how fast can HSR trains go on the peninsula via non-grade separated crossings?

    1. Under federal law, 125 mph. Under California law, probably less; the CPUC has considerable latitude in making a determination of which conditions require grade separation, on a case-by-case basis for each crossing. In practice, 100 to 110 mph is probably as high as they might go, and then only with quad gates and other mitigation measures such as PTC-linked obstacle detection. That's a lot of words to say basically I don't know.

    2. 110mph is also a federal regulatory threshold on the quality of the grade separation ~ AFAICT, its supposed to be a barrier that cannot be driven through between 110mph and 125mph. I don't know whether the gates qualify that are backed by suspension cable that lock into a post on the other side: they are billed as being able to stop a semi, so it seems like they should, but "ought to qualify" and "do qualify" are sometimes a long way apart.

  2. There are 10 grade crossings (not separated) from Atherton through Menlo Park and Palo Alto. Would not the most cost-effective way to 'solve' these grade separations be an elevated four track viaduct? Isn't that what the CHSRA had in mind in their earliest program level EIS/EIR? A PB design, it was originally conceived as retaining walls with fill. Then it became an open viaduct. And that's why we all freaked out!

    Many on the Peninsula have persuaded themselves that the "blended solution" will guarantee at-grade two tracks in perpetuity. Isn't that naive? Both Caltrain and the CHSRA have sought four tracks, whether two HSR dedicated or not, for a very long time. They can't have given those hopes up so easily.

    Apparently, except for some earlier CEQA comments, UPRR hasn't voiced their requirements and not given the CHSRA "permission" to use the corridor, as the Trackage Agreement requires. Is that a problem?

    Finally, Seamus Murphy has stated publicly that both operators, Caltrain and the CHSRA, will run their trains at 79 mph so long as streets aren't separated. Train speeds seem to be a matter of opinion.

    1. PAMPA grade separations, if any (none are contemplated for the next couple of decades, since the squeaky wheel gets the grease) ought to be worked out on a case by case basis with each city. There is no longer this notion of doing all ten at once right away. If you remember, years before HSR, Menlo Park already had a grade separation study. Maybe it's time to dust that off again and figure out what should be done, based on minutes of traffic delay and the frequency of suicides. It's really up to the city, and nobody is holding a gun to anyone's head.

      In 50 years the corridor will have been grade separated. That's just the steady march of progress. Whether there are 2 tracks, or 3, or 4, and even if HSR plans languish in the dustbin of history.

  3. Adirondacker1280007 April, 2012 17:15

    They were freaking out over the retained fill too. Calling it a Berlin Wall. It would irreparably separate the community... as if the railroad tracks don't do that already.

  4. The Blended Service Plan looks like relentless mediocrity throughout after considerable expense. For example the Caltrain – HSR Operations Analysis assumes the maximum initial acceleration rate (critical for achieving maximum station capacity) for future Caltrain EMU’s is 2.1 mphps. A BART design engineer told me their maximum in service acceleration rate is 3.0 mphps. You can check this by observing the period between when a 10 car train begins to accelerate and the last car leaves the station. If the train instantly hit its 3.0 mphps maximum acceleration rate the train should leave the station17.84 seconds after start. But a TCRP transit norm performance list says a normally controlled acceleration rate of change should add 0.5 seconds to the station leaving time. I measured 18 seconds for 10 car trains up-hill down-hill loaded or near empty. Thus a future Caltrain EMU is anticipated to have a 30% lower acceleration rate than what BART has been achieving for the last 40 years. Perhaps heavy transformers on board EMU’s needed to convert 25,000 VAC to something approaching 1000 VDC that semiconductor traction motor drivers can deal with are part of the problem. This EMU traction system performance amounts to 5.43 KW/tonne.

    1. The NYC subway had express trains 100 years ago. BART's average speed is 30 MPH. Fast acceleration doesn't substitute for express service. Ask any New Yorker.

    2. The fastest express segment in New York, between 125th and 59th on the IND, averages 26 mph in my experience.

  5. Clem has written previously in particular:


    Here he says CalTrain will certify the present EIR, which is certainly not adequate in terms of being suitable to accommodate HSR trainsets.

    That CalTrain will certify the present EIR is not my understanding. CalTrain is going to re-circulate the EIR and presumably will include in a revised document, studies relating to HSR issues which are presently lacking in the present document.

    There is absolutely no reason to not do this. Funding of $760 millions from Prop 1A bonds is not gong to be approved this year and maybe ever.

    $600 million of the Prop 1A funds absolutely requires that this electrification be part of the HSR project, not just for CalTrain use. The $9 billon pot of funding from Prop 1A is not to fund local transit agencies desires, but to fund the HSR project.

    The new attempt by the Authority to gain political support to pass HSR funding this year for the Central Valley ICS, by allocating funds to the bookends, doesn't pass the "smell test" and will be contested in court.

    I don't think those who advocate for HSR really understand what is going on here. The lacking of $50 - $70 billion or so to fund HSR here must come from the FRA; the FRA would fund, but congress won't allow the FRA to fund. Obama can blow all the smoke he wants with his multi billion budget proposals for High Speed Rail, but both the Republicans and Democrats at the Federal aren't buying into his proposals. On top of all of that is the NE corridor has poked it head into wanting HSR funding to the tune of about $120 billions. California has 2 senators; the NE corridor has 14 or so senators. Who wins any battle for funds?

    Behind the scenes the local transit agencies are doing whatever they can to grab as much funding that the voters approved and was dedicated to HSR, and divert these funds to their own local transit projects. CalTrain electrification is just one of these projects.

    1. The present electrification EIR is in fact suitable for accommodating HSR trainsets on a purely technical basis. Electrification is the first thing that ought to be done without HSR, and it is also the first thing that ought to be done with a blended HSR scenario. Even the CHSRA now says so. If a big stink is made about gate down-time, the EIR could simply be certified for 5 trains per peak hour per direction, i.e. no additional traffic impacts compared to the no-build alternative. A future HSR EIR could then deal with the legitimate concerns arising from increased train traffic under the 'blended' plan, and any ramifications for grade separations.

      The last thing we need is for scorched-earth project opponents to forcibly hitch the electrification EIR to the HSR EIR, although I do understand that will be the best delaying tactic.

      There is no doubt that everything will end up in court, and I say the sooner, the better!

    2. Clem:

      What is very confusing is CalTrain demanding electrification under threat of going bankrupt (ridiculous), yet MetroLink down south wants nothing to do with electrification. Why the difference between the two agencies?

    3. Caltrain should not be under any threat of going bankrupt, because it is by far one of the most profitable (or least unprofitable, as these things go) transit operators in the Bay Area. That makes it unique. What also makes it unique is that it does not have a dedicated source of funding to make up the portion of operating costs not covered by fares, as do other agencies. Hence the threat of bankruptcy. It shouldn't exist, but there it is.

      Your question about Metrolink is an excellent one. Electrification is something you do when your diesel operation is bursting at the seams. Caltrain clocks over 20,000 weekday passenger-miles per route-mile, many times what Metrolink sees over its far-flung network. Metrolink does not need electrification because it is nowhere near capacity as Caltrain currently is. Metrolink can still grow its rush hour service. Caltrain can't, short of electrifying.

    4. You could argue it the other way: Metrolink serves some potential in-city markets in the San Fernando Valley, for which frequent, local-stop, electrified service could be perfect. But that would be service expansion, rather than electrifying to avoid dying.

    5. Adirondacker1280008 April, 2012 18:05

      .... it is nowhere near capacity as Caltrain currently is.

      Run longer trains, voila, more capacity.

    6. Clem:

      But by accommodating HSR under the blended system, much more capacity will be absobed by the HSR traffic than you can possibly gain by electrifying the system. Thus in the blended system, you don't get what you want, more capacity for commuters, you will actully lose capacity.

    7. @Adirondacker: Longer trains accelerate even more slowly, further reducing the capacity of the line unless stops are skipped. I could see that solution for baby bullets, if they bought more cars. (The fleet is tapped out at rush hour).

      @Morris: Caltrain has stated very clearly that 6 tph per direction is non-negotiable, and this is a fundamental assumption of their blended study. 6 tph will be fine for decades to come. Electrification also allows you to lengthen trains without impact to performance (see above)

    8. Adirondacker1280008 April, 2012 18:59

      Then put a locomotive on both ends.

    9. No can do. Train length is limited by platform length and grade crossing locations. Why not simply apply the correct solution, rather than a band-aid?

    10. Adirondacker1280008 April, 2012 20:23

      The locomotive doesn't have to be at the platform, Neither do all the cars. They wanted a blended solution and having the locomotive block the intersection is one of the problems a blended solution creates, Having the MU block the crossing is just as effective. My heart bleeds. When HSR is completed to San Jose and one of the Baby Bullets gets canceled because Caltrain can fill up a train with people paying premium prices to get to San Francisco fast,,, that's one of the consequences of a blended solution, My heart bleeds. When they come out with a plan that closes 4, 5, 6 low use stations and squeezes in another train, that's one of the consequences of a blended plan. My heart bleeds. When people decide to drive because Caltrain closed the station they could walk to and the decision to do this is taken by many of the people who used the closed stations causing 101 to gridlock... my heart bleeds.

    11. Your heart sure seems to bleed a lot. What's your recommendation, if I may be so shameless as to ask?

    12. Majority of baby bullet travel is between SF and PA/MV. Neither PA nor MV is getting HSR stops. Throw in the fact that HSR is getting only 2 out of 8 slots, and I doubt you'll see baby bullets bleeding.

    13. @Adirondacker12800
      The locomotive doesn't have to be at the platform, Neither do all the cars.

      I don't think that will work in station like Mountain View. Recall that many stations have pedestrian crossings on both ends. Blocking one or both crossings in high volume station like Mountain View will not work unless the platform and crossing are expanded or you build an undercrossing for passengers.

      On the other hand, of the baby bullet stops, only MV, MP, Hillsdale and RWC would be affected, so the cost to expand platforms wouldn't be that great if only baby bullets stops needed the upgrade.

    14. Adirondacker1280008 April, 2012 22:02

      What's your recommendation, if I may be so shameless as to ask?

      Run longer trains?
      I'm almost sure that buried somewhere in all the studies that have been done in the past few years there's something along the lines of "no build is not an option because it would block the crossings if more capacity is needed" or something to that effect. They can admire the lack of Berlin Wall while they are enjoying their 90 second crossing closure. When it backs up for blocks and spills over onto El Camino they can anticipate the wide vistas they will be able to enjoy when they finally get down to the tracks. With any luck when the they get there the crossing will be closed by another train, giving them plenty of time to contemplate the bucolic splendor and melodious bells.

      many stations have pedestrian crossings on both ends.

      So? they can wait for the train to leave to use them. It will give them plenty of time to soak in the beauty of their at grade tracks as the diesel exhaust wafts by. They get the bell concert too!

    15. I guess this is a poetic ode to grade-separations, then.

    16. Adirondacker1280009 April, 2012 15:07

      Si metrum non habet, non est poema.
      It's to grade crossings, grade separations would ruin the view with a Berlin Wall. make the bell concerts a thing of the past and remove the bracing aroma of diesel fumes. Though the diesel fumes are more closely related to catenary than they are to grade separations.

    17. "Caltrain has stated very clearly that 6 tph per direction is non-negotiable, and this is a fundamental assumption of their blended study. 6 tph will be fine for decades to come"

      The problem with this is that "six mostly useless trains per hour" isn't the same as "six useful trains per hour" or even "three useful trains per hour".

      Caltrain's "planning" is even more defective than back in the Doty "Catlrain 2025" days, where all he could talk about was "seats per hour", but never anything useful to actual riders, such as "a train every 30 minutes at every station (and every 15 minutes at peaks)", or "trains that make connections (to buses and other trains)", or "running more trains where there are more passengers."

      The "six trains per hour" in their (Caltrain+LTK's) astonishingly, mind-bogglingly crazy "Final Blended Operations Analysis" starts off doing everything completely wrong (twelve different peak Caltrain stopping patterns, hour headways at some stations, random arrival times, random stop patterns, etc) and then gets much, much worse as they arbitrarily tweak the stops further to shoe-horn in HS trains from Los Banos.

      The way the people who know what the hell they're doing do things is to start out with customer focus and then, uh, end with ... customer focus.
      They don't start out with some utterly meaningless statement "six trains per hour (and no overtakes and all trains run end-to-end no exceptions)" and then throw darts at a wall to arrive at a pattern of trains stops that get six trains from one end to the other every hour.

      Basically, Caltrain's "fundamental assumption" in their plan is "we don't care". Their "six trains per hour" don't have any utility except as Powerpoint bullets in low-information slides. Their service planning, in other words, is as world class as their PTC program.

    18. Adirondacker1280011 April, 2012 19:37

      It's not defective it's yet another case of California Exceptionalism being exceptional. Like the kids on the short bus are exceptional.

    19. 4 local and 2 express, or 3 local and 3 express?

  6. The reason that Metrolink is not enthusiastic about electrification is that there are other, more severe constraints on capacity. The busiest line, the San Bernardino Line, is still mostly single track, and there's no way to increase service past 3 trains per hour in the peak direction without cutting reverse-peak service entirely.

    1. "The reason that Metrolink is not enthusiastic about electrification is that there are other, more severe constraints on capacity. The busiest line, the San Bernardino Line, is still mostly single track, and there's no way to increase service past 3 trains per hour in the peak direction without cutting reverse-peak service entirely."

      The most excellent thing about Caltrain's most excellent electrified HSR-ultra-blended plan is that they're concreting in service constraints, including but not limited to:
      no Caltrain express trains ever passing any Caltrain local trains;
      no trains of any sort ever doing cross-platform transfers with any other trains of any sort, ever;
      no short-turn Caltrain services, ever.
      hourly (ONE TRAIN PER HOUR) service to some stations PEAK SERVICE;
      no Dumbarton service.

      All for the low cost of five-ish billion dollars!

      To use Richard Mlynarik's most excellent phrase: "America's FInest Transportation Planning Professionals at work".

    2. Nowhere has it been mentioned that Dumbarton is going away (I'm pretty sure that it is specifically referenced in the most recent stuff about the Northern California consolidated ACE/Capitol Corridor/San Joaquin service).

    3. Dumbarton never existed in anything put forth by the CHSRA. It was/is a clear and present danger to the Pacheco route, and will be studiously ignored and undermined at every opportunity. It must never become a line on any map!

    4. Clem, if you want to do something useful, I suggest a geological and property-take analysis of how to build a Dumbarton tunnel.

      Until you do that, it's best to admit that there's a reason Dumbarton is going away.

    5. The San Bernadino Line on Metrolink faces attack, basically, from highway-building interests. It could be comfortably doubletracked except the space is being taken by bus lanes, and the bus lanes could be put on the roadway, except that WE CAN'T TAKE SPACE AWAY FROM CARS! THEY NEED TEN THOUSAND LANES!... I exaggerate only slighly.

  7. Platform should be extended only express stop. EMU can do coupling/decoupling. very easily In Japan, there are several commuter line doing coupling/decoupling because of platform length, demand for branch line and express service for local station.
    For Caltrain, Baby bullet can be operate 10~12 cars between SF to Redwood city only. At RWC, it decouple front 8 CAR express and rear 4 car Local. It depends on signal, local tran can depart 1~2 minutes after express departed.
    With this operation method, platform extenstion requires only express stop north of Redwood city where passenger volume is high enough. For local station south of RWC, they are connected with Baby Bullet without transfer.

    1. The problem is that most of the actual demand is at stations like Palo Alto, Mountain View, California Avenue, Lawrence, Santa Clara, and Menlo Park. That pretty much only leaves San Antonio and Atherton for the local trains to serve. There's no point in dropping a local section in Redwood City, because there just aren't that many people in a hurry to get to San Jose, and the uncoupling time means that Palo Alto passengers (who are the most numerous) actually lose, and Mountain View passengers (the next largest group) don't gain anything. In the opposite direction, when you're coupling up trains, the time penalty is a bit worse, so nobody but San Jose passengers really wins, and Mountain View and Palo Alto are a definite majority of the demand here. Look at Caltrain's rider stats, they're broken down by train, and you can get a pretty good sense of which station pairs are popular by which trains get the most ridership.

    2. I've never understood how train-splitting and re-joining schemes are meant to work for a busy commute operation when station wait times should not exceed a few minutes. I would guess you could split a train relatively quickly but how safe is it to re-join train sections already occupied with passengers? Do the conductor's have to announce to the passengers "everyone stay seated and brace for impact!" To avoid anything more abrupt than a slight bump (like regular coupler slack) it seems like the sections would need to slowly creep together at a snails pace. Seems like something that only yields benefits for longer distance routes, like Amtrak operations.

    3. Ask the people on Hamburgs S1 S-Bahn line going to the airport --- and some suburb. first three cars to the one, the rest to the other. Both branches are about 40km long in total. I think it goes every 10 minutes.

    4. BART's new fleet will have train-splitting capabilities.

    5. Frequent train couple/decoupling is very common in Japane. Tohkoku Shinkansen do couple/decouple at least 2 trains/hour. Usually first 10 cars goes mainline, the rest 7 car goes branch line, which are originally conventional rail. Other example is rapid train between KIX (Kansai Airport) to Osaka which runs every 10~20 min frequency 7 days a week.

    6. Generally, the train joining works thusly: the first train stops at the far end of the platform. The second train enters the occupied platform at restricted speed and stops just behind the first train. The train operator then activates coupling mode (these days, it's done by just pushing a button), and slowly drives the train forward until the two trains couple. With modern trains, all the connections are in the coupler, so the newly joined train is pretty much ready to go after a couple checks to make sure everything's properly connected.

      Operationally, this sort of thing is best done on a highly branched network with a very busy central section where short trains would be a waste of capacity. Ideally it's done at a branching point after the first one, so that there is enough timetable slack to deal with this operation without slight delays impacting everything else on the line.

    7. Sharing Caltrain and HSR will limit the number of train. We expect more frequent local and express service after electrification. Hopefully, 15 min frequency local(same as BART) and 15min frequency express.
      Based on traffic density, operating both express and local all the way from SF to SJ is not economical, since south terminal carries only 1/4 of ridership than north therminal.Train splitting at some middle location (Redwood city or Palo Alto) is very important to cost reduction without sacrifice service level. Redwood city may be good location because of train turn around space at redwood junction, and futher grade separation.
      Question to time loss for coupling will be dissolved by good signal system.

    8. The corridor asymmetry will only get worse when Caltrain reaches Transbay (see census data). The solution to this is not train-splitting, but turning some trains to head back north from Palo Alto.

    9. Most commuter rail systems would be grateful to have a 1 million plus city at the "country" end of their line!

    10. >>ClemApr 10, 2012 07:53 PM
      The corridor asymmetry will only get worse when Caltrain reaches Transbay (see census data). The solution to this is not train-splitting, but turning some trains to head back north from Palo Alto.

      I forget some explanation.

      I am proposling turning "LOCAL" trains to head back north from Palo Alto or RWC, AND same number of express train will be splitting into local and express at PA or RWC. Then we can maintain same train frequency both local and express thoughtout SF-SJ. Thus, we can adjust train capacity and minimize the construction cost for lenghting the platform.

    11. Anonymous: no need to split trains, which is failure-prone and slow even when performed by the best in the world.
      Just have a separate local shuttle train stop across the platform from the separate limited-stops train and transfer passengers.
      The comparatively small quantity of extra concrete for the parallel tracks and platform at the transfer station (Redwood City is much more feasible than Palo Alto, because it means no overtake of local by limited, so no extra quadruple tracks) is a trade-off for better service reliability than with train splitting.

    12. Richard, this is ideal solution but traffic denisty of south terminal is much smaller than north side. So, maintaining long express train becomes over capacity.

      By the way, does Caltrain have any willingness to implement such schedule before the electrification?

      Technicallly and financially, it looks not difficult. There is some space where currently used by SAMTRAMS bus parking.

      Operating 3~4 car local and 6 car express every 20 minutes in peak period may offset the cost increase by increasing ridership.

  8. Studying the diagram in great detail, I noticed a few things. One is that it's out of date, showing holdout platforms at Burlingame, California Ave, (but, oddly enough, not Santa Clara) and inaccurately shows the platforms at College Park. Also interesting to note that they're planning to cut out two tracks from 4th and King in favor of a wider platform, presumably for HSR, which I think is a good idea. One thing that I think is a terrible mistake, though, is not having express platforms at Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, Hillsdale, and most particularly Redwood City. Ideally, a Caltrain express could follow right behind an HSR train and overtake the local at the north overtake, but also stop at Redwood City. South of that, it's less important for Caltrains to overtake each other, as there's not much value gained from skipping most of the southern stops. If you look at Caltrain's ridership patterns, the big market is not SF to SJ, but SF to major stations in the South Bay and southern Peninsula.
    It's also a little silly to have only two tracks for the mile or so between CP Bowers and wherever it is that the new HSR flyover splits off in Santa Clara.

    1. If there is an overtake between Redwood and Hilldale, then wouldn't changing the number of Express stops south of Redwood just change the Express departure/arrival time at San Jose?

  9. Why we need 4 track just for 8~10 trains/h? If you see BART, they handles 24 trains/h. Paris's RER hands 30 train\h. - They are all same stop pattern.

    Many commuter line in Tokyo and Osaka handles 20~27 trains/h but mixture of local/rapid/express. Only selected station and section have 4 tracks. They provide local/epxress transfer. Their EMU has accerelation rate of 2.7~3.5km/h/s which is not quicker as BART's 4.8km/h/s (3.0mph/s)

    For Caltrain/HSR, I suggest to build 4 tracks at all station but station only. Caltrain EMU need high accerelation rate to escape from HSR. HSR train should have high accerelation because there will be several signal restriction.
    JR central's series N700 has 2.7km/h/s, which is equal to their commuter train.

    1. I think you answered your own question. When you have a wide disparity of average train speeds, you need to allow overtaking to happen, and that becomes a delicate ballet when you have mostly two tracks. You also avoid mixing traffic over very long distances, such as the 80 km between SF and SJ.

      What the Japanese have, and we don't, is the ability to stay on-time. It's a cultural thing, not technical-- and therefore no technical solution can overcome it.

    2. China HSR, Deutsche Bahn, SBB (Switzerland) have better on-time performance than US. (US means those who has dedicated track - Caltrain, NEC, BART...)

    3. It should be noted that Japanese railways pre-1920's were no more on-time or frequent than their European counterparts (ex: trains in the Tokyo area spent an average of 2 minutes stopped at each station) - only the demands of increased traffic in the post-WWI economic boom but little available funding for infrastructure improvement forced railways to make do with what they had. The answer was increasing frequencies with better rolling stock utilization, lessening dwell times, teaching passengers to line up in orderly rows, and other such incremental measures. Certainly cultural characteristics aided these improvements (as they likely do in German speaking areas of Europe), but to attribute it solely to cultural factors is too simplistic.

    4. Japan has much lower top speeds on commuter rail mixing local and express trains than the US and Europe. The Chuo Line tops at 95 km/h, and judging by scheduled trip times, stopping at a station imposes a 45-second penalty, including dwell. This is much less than what you get when you run a bilevel with just two doors per car and expect top speeds of 160 km/h or more. For the most part (there are a few faster trains), express trains skip 10 stops on two tracks between Tachikawa and Tokyo, so we're talking 7.5 minutes. In contrast, with the schedules used on this blog, there are 14 local stops between SF and SJ, and with the performance of a KISS we're talking a 24-minute difference.

    5. JR chuo line has maximum of 27 tph. This line can be model for BART, not for future Caltrain. Narita Sky Access line (Tokyo to Narita Airport) may be good example. This line is relatively new but they use old Keisei line for downtown section.
      They have 130~160km/h non stop express (2 tph) and 105 km/h local train (3 tph) which is similar to future Caltrain. In the peak period, additional rapid train (105km/h, 3 tph). They are 2 track but there are 4 tracked station every 2~4 other stations. Their local/raipd EMU has 3.5km/h/s accerelation and 3 door. Express train has less accerelation and 1~2 door per car.

    6. Dear Anonymous, thanks so much for the Japanese examples. I'm completely lost outside the ISO-8859-1 character set!

      Re Narita Sky access, Wikipedia Wikipedia shows (yes, I know it isn't definite!) two train services types on the 51km line with 6 intermediate stations. Do you count the services that run via the old Keisei line (Takasago-Funabashi-Narita-Airport) for the the third service pattern?

      Later: Oh never mind. I see here that there seems to be four different service patterns on the "Sky Access Line" cutoff in addition to five on the classic line. This English page shows just a small tourist-oriented subset of the services. A different planet!

    7. Richard,

      Thanks for put more information on this. I don't count old keisei line. Because of low population density of those area, they have only local train beside commute hours. (Still much higher than Caltrain)

      I put this example because of speed difference between local and express but is still handled by 2 tracks with limited 4 track station.

      Old Keisei line has more train per hours but it is slow because of curve in dense area.
      Narita Sky access line originally branch line of Keisei for new housing development in the farm land/small mountain. Then the line extend to the airport 2 years ago. Express train connect between Tokyo and airport 40 min, which is 20 min faster than using old Keisei line.
      The line itself was losing money for several years. Their ticket price is still expensive to cover the operating/construction cost. The company still receive some kind of subsidary (like TAX cut) from local goverment.

    8. Richard: if you want to see the schedules for everything, go to Hyperdia. It's English-language. If you put in a pair of stations, and then after seeing the first 5 results click on Interval Timetable, you'll see the schedule for the day.

      Note that the Chuo Line doesn't even have express trains during the peak-of-peak (for full schedules, check Tachikawa-Tokyo). The maximum frequency that still allows express trains is about 20 tph. But again, those trains run at much lower speed than Caltrain and are built to minimize dwell times.

    9. It seems that the important point that Anonymous has made is that you can save yourself a lot of 4 tracking if the system is designed such that faster trains never overtake slower ones while the slower one is in motion. Overtakes should happen while a slower train is stopped at a station. For another Japanese example, look at the Tokaido Shinkansen. Neither stopping patterns nor average speeds nor top speeds are homogeneous there.

      Why is it that Caltrain/CHSR needs these miles-long passing tracks when an appro. 1/4 to 1/2 mile long siding at each station would do the job just fine.

      Say the overtaking train is late and the slower train has to wait to let the faster train pass. Waiting time spent at a station with the doors open does not feel nearly as long nor as irritating as wait time spent on the middle of the line somewhere waiting for a signal to change.

    10. Some people have already thought of this. Look at page 17 of Caltrain's report.

      3:00 minimum following move headway (slow train ahead of fast train)
      0:30 route re-establishment time at overtake diverging interlocking
      0:30 route re-establishment time at overtake merging interlocking
      3:00 minimum following move headway (fast train ahead of slow train)

      That means the overtake must allow the fast train to gain seven minutes on the slow train. Stopping the slow train at one or more stations sure helps to accomplish this, but they're not going to dwell at a stop for seven minutes.

    11. "3:00 minimum following move headway ..."
      Wow. Sounds like something you could do with some really obsolete, not-designed-in-San Carlos signalling system.
      One with fixed blocks and lineside signals and really rudimentary, state-of-the-1940s-art software. With long fixed blocks. With mechanical fixed-to-mobile communication (ie brake trip levers.)

      CBOSS is certainly going to deliver. For $omebody.

    12. Shinkansen practice (I forget which document says that, but I'm fairly sure it's JR East's peer review of the CAHSR documents) is 3 minutes slow-ahead-of-fast headway and 2 fast-ahead-of-slow.

      And if you compare Kodama with Nozomi schedules at such a time that the Kodama are overtaken, the difference between them is on the order of 7-8 minutes.

    13. "Why is it that Caltrain/CHSR needs these miles-long passing tracks"

      * The first reason is that they promise never to operate reliably.

      It's just not something they've ever done, ever plan to do, or can even conceive of doing. (If they did, they'd have prioritized and completed level boarding platforms, starting 20 years ago.)

      Timetables are just a suggestion for Olde Tyme Commuter Railroaders, and overtakes of one Old Tyme Commuter Railroading Train by another (as on Caltrain today) are something they can't make work, can't imagine every working, and seek to prohibit, in the interest of olde tyme traditional timekeeping.

      * They're also going to buy rather low-performance trains, meaning extended braking distance and more parallel track. (Consider rather the hypothetical case where a leading stopping train can take an approach turnout and enter station platform at full line speed, braking to a full stop within the platform: there's no need for any parallel overtake track except for the platforms themselves.)

      * Another big part of it is that they will only ever countenance on-the-fly overtakes, of one slower train by another at full express line speed. You'll note that their beyond-inept infrastructure "plan" explicitly prevents any sort of "at station" (ie transfer, ie island and central platforms) overtake of any sort, ever.

      * Also, as Caltrain's "plan" is to only ever, until the end of time, operate skip-stop Caltrain service, and only have Caltrain overtaken by HS trains, the relative speed is lower than in a more typical limited-past-local case. Smaller speed difference = longer overtake distance = more delicious concrete.

      * In less crazy operational scenarios in which Caltrain local and Caltrain limited-stop trains meet at transfer stations, approach speeds of the pair are both low, meaning headways can be tightened up drastically using a few strategic short signal blocks. Departing headways can be much closer still: when a limited-stopper leaves a transfer station into a two-track section, the following stopper can depart little more than half a minute later: slow speed braking distances are really short so the signal system can allow it to follow very closely indeed. (See for example BART departing MacArthur towards downtown Oakland, though this isn't a great example because both trains make the next stop at 19th, so the first train isn't quickly pulling away from the second.)

      * Passengers do accept and even appreciate somewhat extended dwell times at transfer stations because there is clearly a benefit to them from the bit of slack that permits connections. On the other hand, being stuck at a red signal waiting for HSR Flight Level Zero airline to blast past your train is all downside. One can see this effect on BART at MacArthur station any evening: Fremont-bound and SF-bound trains wait with their doors open for each other across the platform 3 times an hour, and passengers don't get antsy the way they do when a train is stuck at some other station or stuck on open track. In Central Europe, even the fanciest high-profile high-priority inter-city trains are timetabled to sit around for a couple minutes at transfer hubs: that way they stay on time (mid-route padding) and they help keep the network of transfers working for their customers.

      * In less crazy (= Altamont) HS routing plans, there's at most one HS overtake of Caltrain local required. With the insane worst-of-both-worlds combination of Los Banos HS and all-limited-stop Caltrain, two overtakes are mandatory, which leads to more schedule instability, which means more off-timetable running, which means longer overtake tracks or it all falls apart. (You can think of Tracy-Fremont-Redwood City as a huge long overtake track for HS trains, completely free of interfering with Caltrain unlike gummed-up and constricted Gilroy-SJ-Redwood City.)

    14. "What the Japanese have, and we don't, is the ability to stay on-time. It's a cultural thing, not technical-- and therefore no technical solution can overcome it."

      In Germany, the clock at platform shows accurate time. If you see those clocks, time is fully calibrated by second level.
      In Japan, the clock at platform did not show the SECOND, but are also calibrated to the standard. Train Enginner and Conductor have special watch which are supplied from train company. They refer this watch to determine the time table.

      For Caltrain, there are no such clock at platform. Time from information board is showing wrong time.

      If Caltrain really want to improve the on-time performance, let's buy and install accurate clock to all the platform. Before improve the on-time performance, let's see time accuracy of clocks by station to station.

    15. I visited Boston recently, and my MBTA train was overtaken by an Acela at Attleboro. Best as I remember, the train left the station about half a minute or a minute after the overtake happened. The train sat on the track for a while later, but the initial departure was quite fast.

      So 30-second fast-ahead-of-slow headways are clearly possible.

    16. Un huh, Looks like there's four tracks at Attleboro


  10. Clem,

    As usual, thanks for your level headed approach.

    I'm still wondering when the issue of compatibility (platform heights, PTC, acceptable # of trains before grade separation are required, etc.) is going to be resolved, and how much is going to have to be ripped out ($ wasted) at every phase or sooner.

    1. The train control system (more than just PTC) is the most immediate issue, and presents the greatest opportunity for short-term waste of funds. (BART's last attempt in this area flushed $80 million down the toilet with nothing to show for it.) This is an arcane discipline practiced in a protected market where the government regulator (the FRA) is trying to "incubate" a bunch of home-grown solutions at taxpayer expense. May the best science project win the science fair. Buying stuff that mostly already works, let alone from foreign suppliers, is anathema to the whole transportation-industrial complex... and yet it's exactly what we should be doing.

      The questions I posed earlier still stand.

    2. Clem,

      "arcane discipline"? Bat-shit. It's sending packets indicating state.

      The pertinent datum is to look at the progress report on the ITCS deployment in Michigan, where the responsible engineers commented on learning a lesson which was well-known in the mid-1980s: you need SNMP counters to monitor, and do post-facto debugging after failures.
      Yes, they're 25 years behind the curve.

      (I say that as someone who deployed SNMP-speaking rluters with a reverse-eningeered version of Cisco IGRP 25 years ago. Not news then; Kinetics Fastpath had SNMP too, for the exact same reasons.)

      It's not arcane. It's about third-rate electrical engineers or "PEs" trying to do Computer Science, in blissful and willful ignorance of the relevant prior art. Possibly because the prior art is outside the domain of any PE.

      And the fundamental issue with CBOSS isn't the "Proudly made in the USA" image of your earlier post that you cite. The fundamental question is:

      Why pay 2x _even the going California, USA, transportation-industrial complex inflated rates, _solely_ for the as-yet-unimplemented ability to raise crossing-gates in front of trains stopped at stations with crossing-gates abutting the platform?

    3. Adirondacker1280011 April, 2012 22:11

      NJTransit raises crossing gates while the train is stopped at the station next to the gates. Daily.

    4. @kiwi: it's arcane because if a packet gets delivered late or incorrectly, you have 25 dead and 120 injured. The safety criticality makes it a different ballgame.

      @Adirondacker: NJ Transit does not keep the gates up as a train pulls up and stops just short of them. That is what they propose to do here. Raising gates after stopping is done all the time today. The new wrinkle is not to lower them.

    5. Jonathan: What Clem says is true. I've written piles of IGP and EGP code. Code with plenty of "9"s after the "99".
      Life-safety critical code is in an entirely different universe.
      It's far more than "rocket science". (Range Safety Officer: "Detonate Caltrain 336")

    6. Adirondacker1280012 April, 2012 15:23

      NJ Transit does not keep the gates up as a train pulls up and stops just short of them.

      Nobody has it because nobody's safety department will approve it. Until the train is actually stopped the gates are going to behave as if the train will be going through the crossing. Brakes fail, tracks get slick, the new gee-whiz train stopping software has a defect that doesn't show up until the rails are slick or the brakes fail...

    7. Adirondacker, that's just patently false. Most light rail system have this, where the signal between the station and the crossing is held at red (or the cab signal code is held at 0) until the train stops at the station. This is also done on the Sprinter line between Oceanside and Escondido, which is both under CPUC and FRA regulations, though with a waiver for the rolling stock. And of course it's standard practice elsewhere in the world, particularly Melbourne and various places all over the UK. For a local example for you, I vaguely recall the interlocking at Mineola on the LIRR working this way.

    8. Adirondacker1280013 April, 2012 22:47

      Well then instead of sending them to Red Bank send them to Mineola.

  11. The issue remains one of misinformation, incompetence, and half measures. On the first point, the CHSRA seems incapable of educating the public on what is required to make the system work and what the tangible benefits are going to be beyond the most obvious ones. This leads into the second point, which is that the CHSRA is headed by a group of individuals that are more interested in inflating the engineering contracts then getting the best possible system built. This makes it harder for them to sell the project because of the FUD required to disguise the pork. Finally, anything they build halfway and finish in ten years is just going to be torn out in 15-20 years and rebuilt, so why not spend the money now? I would simply return to points one and two.

    1. I agree. They certainly seem to have chewed off more than they could swallow. The blended plan isn't crazy, especially if they finally see the light and run HSR via Altamont (see the interesting operational plan proposed by the Swiss outfit SMA+Partners... people who can run circles around the LTKs of our stagnant little transit backwater). It could someday resemble the organic integration between local, regional and inter-regional high-speed services that you see for example in Germany. Kopp's and Diridon's grand vision of a separate HSR system dropped right on top of the state of California, crushing everything beneath, is hopefully dead. I sure get a chuckle out of reading Judge Kopp's recent complaints that the blended plan amounts to a "great train robbery"... he still doesn't seem to realize that the grandiose HSR-ueber-alles scheme he was pushing, at astronomical taxpayer expense, was an even greater train robbery.

    2. Adirondacker1280010 April, 2012 21:29

      There was nobody to buy it from when the FRA initially funded the incubators.

  12. En-route splitting and combining EMU trains is a useful operating technique for conserving track capacity and operating crew numbers along trunk-line network sections while maintaining adequate branch-line frequency. All Chicago Insull EMU railways, which included the North and South Shore Lines, the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, and the Chicago elevated lines ran some split trains. This was a common practice in spite of the cumbersome requirement to connect air brake lines and jumper cables between coupled EMU’s built in the 1920’s and used into the mid 1980’s. A ground mechanic was always made available in order to connect and separate those trains. Split trains were also used on the Key Lines by 1925 and the Muni LRV’s in recent years.
    Today the EMU split trains operating technique clearly could improve service at reduced cost if no additional operating personnel were required in order to proceed. Since modern EMU’s usually do not have train-line compressed air lines combined with the present advanced state of the electronic control revolution near term automatic EMU connection and separation is likely to become practical. Connecting off-peak BART trains from Pittsburg and Richmond while leaving MacArthur Station would avoid the mutual interference delay while on the single track traverse through Downtown Oakland and facilitate a car exchange in order to enable a one seat ride for San Francisco riders from the Richmond Line and Pittsburg train riders headed for the Oakland Airport. Southbound trains while remaining on separate tracks could safely make a high-braking-rate approach to a McArthur Station. Two trains simultaneously leaving McArthur Station could quickly combine if the station area train control system could always precisely detect the position of the rear of the about to be combined train leading car set and the front of the following car set. If the front and rear car sets of the about to be combined train are within one foot of each other as their tracks converge after leaving the station a moderate closing rate would enable a quick yet smooth coupling.
    A train split in order to enable one-seat rides to Oakland Airport would be particularly important for out-of-town passengers with baggage. Note: The one-seat-ride BART service to SFO has been experiencing increasing use in spite of a $3.80 surcharge imposed on 1/1/11.
    An Altamont Pass CHSR connection between the San Joaquin Valley with the San Francisco Bay area combining separate SF and SJ trains scheduled for similar stopping patterns down-state near Livermore would conserve track capacity across most of the system’s length. Conserving track capacity often translates into increased system reliability.
    Maintaining an efficient load factor while providing a largely constant service frequency across a highly variable demand curve can be achieved by varying train lengths as demand fluctuates. Another important consideration is to conserve train capacity along heavy demand but expensive to create or duplicate sections.
    Moving block separation systems and combining trains are effective capacity extension methods along a single track. For example using BART’s conservative by transit industry safety related braking rate standard (2 mphps) and if their train position definition was known as precisely as claimed by moving block proponents a 10 car per train close-up time would be no more than 36 seconds. BART’s actual minimum close-up period the last time I checked in 1999 and a 1996 TCRP Report was 90 seconds.
    Using a moving-block train separation standard doubling train lengths will increase the number of cars that can be moved through a station when considering only close-up time will equal around 72%. But if dwell times approach close-up periods and remain constant the hourly throughput increase with a doubled train length will approach 85%.

    1. JohnBacon:

      I have effectively zero knowledge of US steam-era railway operation.

      But to speal to your last paragraph: moving-block helps very little in a short-block system like Caltrain. I refer you to Joern Pachl's book -- or I would, if it hadn't gotten mislaid. There's a sequence of diagrams which show the dimishing returns where shorter and shorter fixed-blocks asymptotically approach moving-block (down to the length of a train).

      Altamont vs. Pachecho is a distraction, a favourite intellectual-masturbation excercise for people who favour the obvious SF-Sac advantages of the route, over the factual lack of any existing usable corridor: across or under the Bay (Redwood City - Fremont shores); Fremont to hills; and through the hills; and last but not least, Fremont - San Jose (not across the Bay). If you think NIMBYs on a 120-year-old route are bad, just wait till you hear NIMBYs yelling about brand-new high-speed rail corridors with all that 120mi/hr noise.

      While Altamont advocates have a point about the operational issues, but they're fundamentally irrational about the BART-to-San-Jose fait-accompli (use of the former WP right-of-way) which was a big factor behind BART (and thus MTC) favouring Pacheco _in the first place_.

      Spilt milk. BART already stole the Santa Clara County money originally earmarked for Caltrain Dumbarton. Get over it (including Clem.)

    2. Fun fact about steam-era operation: until the 1920s, railroads in Britain had slip coaches on express train. As the train was approaching a station, the last car would be detached from the moving train, without it slowing down. A guard on the car would use the handbrake to stop it at the station. This way, the express train could serve many stations without actually stopping at them.

    3. That's a actually creative idea (if you ignore the question of what do you do then with the stopped coach).

      It does bring up a question of why trains aren't split while still in motion, but in stations. Seems more efficient that having both parts stopping together at that final station.

  13. The problem splitting Caltrain sets is the tendency for latest EMUs to be semi-permanently coupled to allow easy transfer between sets. I'm not sure how long the platforms are, but it feels like a 5-6 car EMU is what Caltrain will be buying.

    If they end up going with 3-car EMUs running in pairs without a gangway connecting them, don't you need to run twice the crew? or have another "1 engineer, 2 conductor" set waiting at the split? Without even thinking about splitting trains, I haven't see any mention of detachable EMUs from Caltrain.

    Suppose you did get one, could run with 1 engineer and 1 conductor, but given how that options hasn't been on the table during the last round of cuts, I don't see it popping up with millions of dollars of new cash flowing in.

    Do you recall how much $$$ caltrain saved by cutting midday service? Now try to see how much they's save a year if they were to split trains.

    A better approach would be to investigate that when Caltrain hits another "fiscal crisis". You won't have to wait long for that one.

    1. In my opinion they should go with 4-car formations. That allows them to run 8-car trains during the rush (1 engineer + 2 conductors), and 4-car formations off-peak (1 engineer + 1 conductor). Only problem is a bunch of 600-foot platforms built in the last 10 to 15 years, too short to accommodate 8 cars. (8 * 85 = 680 feet) If you extend those platforms as far as possible, the next constraint is the spacing between grade crossings. Eight cars is the most you can stop at Menlo Park and Burlingame, for example. Caltrain's engineering standards call for 700-foot platforms, but that didn't prevent a bunch of 600-footers from getting built.

    2. Conductors. Multiple conductors.

      Thank God Bob "CBOSS" Doty decided all for himself that "working with freight will be a fun project" because what would we do without conductors? Where would we be without conductors? Just how bad can we make our operating deficit? Just how much service can we cut in order to keep running a 19th century historical theme park?

      Highball on the green!

    3. You've got a point. What do conductors do?

      (1) Acknowledge the engineer calling out signals. That duty will be eliminated by the new train control system.
      (2) Operate doors and clear the train to move. Euro EMUs do this from the engineer's cab, using CCTV or rear-view mirrors.
      (3) Check fares. Replace that with roving inspectors.
      (4) Keep feet off the seats and keep vandals in check. Replace with roving inspectors.

      There's the technical view of the task, and then there's the reality of unions. I was trying to account for the reality, defeatist that I am.

    4. (5) Operate the all important wheelchair lift
      (6) Hassle bicyclists
      (7) Announce stops

      Definitely "B" ship material.

    5. The World FInest Transportation Planning Professionals (who just happen to work for LTK right here in the US of A!) have these answers:
      Q: What train length was assumed for Caltrain within the simulation model?
      A: An eight-car EMU consist which is 680 feet in length.

      Q: What modifications would have to be made to accommodate 10 car trains?
      A: As part of the Service Plan / Operations Considerations Study, we will be studying the feasibility and impacts of running longer trains. The study is scheduled to be completed Summer 2012. See Planning Process Chart Attachment A.

      So there you have it. The answer is to give more money to World FInest Transportation Planning Professionals for Further Studies. The Further Studies build on the worst conceivable timetabling (set in stone at this point in the "Final Blended Operations Analysis": it's a pure Garbage In, Garbage Out scenario. Just how they like it.

      As for defeatism, at some point you have to ask yourself: is it worth a billion and a half public dollars -- dollars that could have been spent on something even marginally useful -- to transform Caltrain from a nearly useless, randomly-scheduled, infrequent, grotesquely inefficient historical replica of long bygone railroading into a a nearly useless, randomly-scheduled, infrequent, grotesquely inefficient historical replica of long bygone railroading with wires on top and higher operating costs?

      Have a heart to hear with your Spiritual Advisor.

      As I see it, we're paying BART costs and getting far, far worse than BART service. Thank you, Caltrain Planning Professionals! Your work on this planet is compelte!

    6. re. Caltrain train length, can't they just build station platforms and siding lengths that can accommodate 10 car length trains, and then just run the originally projected 8 car trains. If traffic warrants it, they can lengthen the consists in the future. It's not rocket science, and doesn't require "studies". That's the way it's done here in Japan, and almost everywhere else, I assume.

    7. (5) Operate the all important wheelchair lift - Level boarding fixes that
      (6) Hassle bicyclists - More frequent service fixes that
      (7) Announce stops - automated displays eliminate the need for that

      So that's one driver per set, reducing the labor operating costs at a stroke.

    8. (5) Level boarding...interesting idea. Someone should inform Caltrain staff.
      (6) Frequent service...interesting idea. Someone should inform Caltrain staff.
      (7) Automated displays...interesting idea. Someone should inform Caltrain staff.

    9. In the UK, we still have Ye Olde Guards because Ye Olde Unions oppose one person operation. But on newer EMUs like the Class 450 the guard can do 2, 3 and 4 at the same time by walking through the train.

      When the train stops at a station, the guard goes to a doorway (doesn't matter which one) and uses a key to activate a special control panel. She/He (and there are plenty of women in the job, for what it's worth) enables the passenger door controls (each door can be opened and closed by passengers) and steps down on to the platform. When it's time to depart, the guard checks that all the doorways are clear, hops back on and presses the master door close button to close all the doors and disable the passenger door controls. Incidentally, the Class 450s have cab gangways and internal doors to close off the cabs, allowing passengers to walk between units. If I'm boarding a train at the last minute, it's handy to remember that you can walk down the whole train to find an empty seat.

      The London Underground, by the way, has one person operation with mirrors or monitors on the platforms.

    10. @Clem, the 4 car formation has been the standard Cityrail Sydney set for a long time ~ for quite a while now, only the diesel regional trains have been two car sets. The four car set is two symmetric two car modules, which normally stay coupled together. However, if either needs to be taken out of service for repair, either one can be replaced overnight by the same spare module.

      Cityrail has told the Newcastle transport enquiry that when the current two car sets running local service along the electric corridor into NSW's second city are taken out of service, they'll be replaced by four car sets ... any cost from running a four car set where two cars would do would be less than the cost of developing a new specialized two car electric set for such a low frequency service.

  14. According to latest ridership presentation and March board meeting minutes, Caltrain plan to add some train in the peak period. There is no announcement but is sometime this year after see stable operation after transition from AMTRAK to new operator.

    Adding one train in peak period means 6 train/h. After this addition, how many more train need to be added before electirfication? They have option to extend platform. However, blending plan of 6 Caltrain/h looks not realistic. I assume more train are needed when electrification is complete.

    1. The need for 6tph peak-time in the very near future makes the assumptions of the last feasibility study for 6 tph (Caltrain) and 2/4 tph (HSR) for blended operation (when is that? 2020? Later?) look kind of sad. What are the planners thinking? (Are there any serious planners?). Are we really going to let next stage of the feasibilty study continue with such a blinkered approach? Is the price of taking HSR's money that we are doomed to overcrowding on Caltrain? (And with that lousy, wacked-out time table)
      There's some really smart people showing up here. What's the solution?

    2. At the risk of sounding flippant, we don't need smart people to figure it out, because it's a simple problem. When you intermingle fast and slow traffic on the same tracks, the only way to avoid a mess is to minimize the length of track over which such intermingling occurs. Blending over the full 80 km length of the peninsula is asking for operational trouble. A far better solution is to bring HSR across Altamont (see interesting phasing opportunities) and Dumbarton, joining the corridor at Redwood Junction. Over the remaining 40 km, excellent and far more practical solutions exist (See Example 3 with 4 HSR @ 125 mph + 4 Caltrain local + 4 Caltrain express, with cross-platform transfer, and no quad track through San Mateo or Burlingame!)

    3. Is Altamont dissolves blending/capacity issue?
      Regardless HSR, north of Redwood city has higher traffic density, means need more train. Most of ROW constrain exist north of Redwood city, including down town San Mateo and north of Bayshore.
      Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton, those area still have wider ROW. Palo Alto station already have spece for 4 track, Menlo Park, California Avenue can be 3~4 track by using parking lot space.

    4. The point isn't to build extra tracks where there happens to be space for them. The point is to construct an efficient service pattern that minimizes where extra tracks are needed. Example 3 linked above is an excellent example, with no additional tracks needed through downtown San Mateo or north of Bayshore.

  15. So far the CHSR Authority’s design plans continue to over-look many cost savings. Here is one proposed change whose efficacy can easily be verified.
    Let’s examine how taking advantage of the enormous momentum of 220 mph trains could drastically reduce the length of the 10 miles of tunnels now thought necessary to convey a 3.5% ruling grade standard CHSR train across the 1360 foot Pacheco Pass. Highway 152 crosses Pacheco Pass which is 1,000 feet above the surrounding plains, using 6% maximum grades and no tunnels. Therefore a CHSR 6% ruling grade standard for a 1,000 foot climb should be considered.
    A frequent train climb performance analysis approach is to assume that traction power magnitude remains constant near its peak rating throughout its speed range during a climb. Let’s integrate the same functions with respect to velocity (V) when computing train time and distance performance over its power limited speed range: T = ∫M*V/P and distance S = ∫M*V^2/P while incorporating remaining power available for acceleration function P = PO – (R*V + W*V^3)*M*G. After gaining 1,000 feet on a 6% grade a train hitting the start of the climb at 220 mph while maintaining cruising speed power will slow to 166 mph and lose 7.8 seconds compared to rolling the same distance at a constant 220 mph. Unfortunately in order the traction motors to maintain constant power motor current must increase its magnitude to levels inversely proportional to the speed decline from220 mph to 166 mph. In order to maintain constant power current must increase to 220/166*100% = 132.5% of cruising speed current. Given the ( i^2)*R motor current heating relation the current generated heating rate at 166 mph would be 176% of the amount of heat generated 220 mph assuming constant power is applied throughout the speed range being considered.
    Holding motor current constant as a train inevitably slows while climbing a 6% grade will avoid any current induced increase in traction motor heat generation but reduce traction motor power output in direct proportion to the degree the train slows. Fortunately a train’s kinetic energy at 220 mph is great enough to enable a train to quickly climb a 1,000 foot 6% Pacheco Pass slope in spite of this reduced power. Let’s incorporate this effectively constant-motor-current power function P = PO*(V/Vb) – (R*V + W*V^3)*M*G into the basic train performance functions: Time T = ∫M*V/P and distance S = ∫M*V^2/P where both equations are integrated with respect speed (V). The minimum constant current traction motor speed at the top of the pass would, under constant traction current conditions, decline to 158.6 mph. The train would be delayed 8.8 seconds at the end of a 1,000 foot climb up a 6% grade compared to a constant 220mph speed over the same distance. An easily designed and installed rolling stock constant current sensor could help govern the pulse width modulation section of the traction motor choppers.
    The wind constant (W = 2.493E−7 )/(F/S)^2 in the foot-pound-second system can be immediately computed by setting the balancing speed to 108% of the 220 mph cruising speed (237.6 mph) and the power/weight ratio P/W = 32.52 KW/metric ton. This power per unit weight ratio is the same as that given by the CHSR Authority in their San Jose to San Francisco run time simulation published on this blog within the Straightening Some Curves section. Setting the rolling friction portion of train-in-motion resistance/weight ratio (R = .001) and applying the traction power consumption function (P = (R*V + W*V^3)*M*G) the wind constant must be: W = 2.493E-7.

  16. Doubts have been expressed about the need for 32.52 Kw/mT power to weight ratio for a 220 mph CHSR train. A 162 mph 1992 Shinkansen 300 train has a balancing speed of 177 mph and a power to weight ratio of 16.9 Kw/mT. One can immediately compute that its wind constant is 275E−7. Since air friction represent 96% of parasitic power loses and is proportional to the cube of the speed a sharp reduction in the wind constant is required in order for 32.52 Kw/mT to be enough power to sustain 220 mph. Have present train streamlining techniques reduced air friction to only 90% of that achieved in 1992?
    In order to verify that momentum alone at220 mph is largely responsible for the modest delay incurred while climbing 1,000 feet on a 6% here is a different approach for computing HSR delay on a slope where constant high speed is unsustainable: Any vehicle traveling a 220 mph has a kinetic energy magnitude equal to its potential after a 1618 foot climb. (To verify use the function S = V^2/2g where V = 322.67 feet/sec and g = 32.174 ft/sec^2) If a train moving 220 mph reduces its traction power to the level required in order to overcome only air and rolling friction as it starts up a 1,000 foot climb the train will slow upon reaching the top of the grade to the kinetic energy speed equivalent of a 618 foot climb which is 136 mph. The average speed during the climb is 178 mph which takes 12.2 seconds longer to complete than an equal length path through a nearly horizontal tunnel at a constant 220 mph.
    The $80 HP 33s calculator’s solve and numerical integration programs quickly resolved all calculations mentioned above.

    1. 32.52 kW/metric ton was doubtless a mistake. No such train exists.

  17. I think we can all agree that the CHSRA is bridge-and-tunnel obsessed. Clem has also pointed out before that the grade of the tracks can also be steeper if the trains using the line are the lighter and more powerful ones needed for successful operation anyways.

  18. Clem: 32.52 kW/metric ton was doubtless a mistake. No such train exists.
    From the basic equation P = mav BART cars exceed this power/weight every time they continue to accelerate at their usual 4.4 feet/second squared acceleration rate beyond the length of their platforms. From the basic equation P = mav where P/m = 32.52 Kw/mT and a = 4.4 ft/ second squared the train’s P/m will exceed 32.52 Kw/mT after speed exceeds 79.7 ft/sec.
    Train speed and acceleration and therefore the train’s power/weight ratio can be computed by observing the period required for the rear of a 10 car BART train to clear their 700 foot standard platform. From the distance (S) vs. time and velocity relation subject to constant acceleration (a): S = ½at2 = V2/2a where a = 4.4 ft/sec^2 the train will approach 78.5 ft/sec after 17.84 seconds. (Plus 0.5 seconds to allow for the delay incurred while observing a rate of change for acceleration limit.) If the train end clears the platform end within 18.3 seconds the train’s velocity will be 78.5 ft/sec and rising.
    Clem’s comment doubting the correctness of a CHSR Authority statement that 32.52 KW/metric ton continuous power was used to model hsr performance implies a serious question which deserves a serious answer.
    Previously it has been shown that climbing the 1,000 foot above the plains surrounding Pacheco pass with an average power magnitude below a level sufficient to sustain 220 mph would cause no more than 9 seconds delay. But rolling to the crest of 4,300 foot Tejon Pass even 220 mph momentum (Kinetic energy equivalent to a 1,618 foot climb.) will have little positive effect. Following a path close to I-5 without tunnels a 32.52 Kw/mT continuously available power level could achieve the following performance. Climbing Tejon Pass southbound would take 5.62 minutes or 84 seconds longer than continuous running at 220 mph over the same 15.49 mile distance. The steepest grade averages 6.11% climbing 1585 feet along 4.9 miles. Speeds would range from 220mph down to 133mph.
    From a power consumption perspective a 220 mph speed is significantly above that of any European or Japanese train in regular service today. Given the power consumption equation P = (R*V + W*V^3)*M*G with wind resistance losses proportional to velocity cubed will be extremely sensitive to speed increases as intended speed rises above 200 mph.
    A high maximum continuous power traction system will need to be created in order to reliably sustain a 220 mph train service along the San Joaquin Valley; an area which is subject to long hot summers. A motor’s maximum sustainable power level is dependent on the temperature difference between the highest winding temperature the motor can withstand without damage and ambient temperatures. An unusually high ambient temperature which often occurs along California’s San Joaquin Valley will reduce a traction motor’s practical maximum output power. Motors with H level winding insulation can withstand a 140 degree temperature above ambient operating range. Therefore with Central Valley summer temperatures 14 degrees C higher than European or Japanese ambient temperatures, where HSR power standards have been established, could force a 10% narrowing of continuous traction motor operating temperature range or a 5% reduction in sustainable motor current and power. Also realizing that a further reduction in wind constant from the Shinkansen 300 balancing data would be required to enable a 32.52 Kw/tonne to meet CHSR Authority performance goals let’s set W = 236E−9. Balancing speed on level ground becomes V = 242 mph but drops to 238 mph with a 5% power reduction needed in order to compensate for hot weather.
    The cost of traction electric power per seat offered on level ground at 220 mph be no more than 1.05 cents per mile when being charged 10 cents/Kwh at the rolling stock input.

  19. The hostility to cross-platform transfer between HSR and Caltrain is... not a good thing. Not good at all.

    Of course, failure to select platform heights may be causing this.

  20. Life-safety-critical code requires *fail-safe* design. This is more of a pain than it sounds like.

    I know the basic procedure for designing things to "fail safe", and it's kind of straightforward but it requires a really weird way of thinking which most people find terribly unnatural, so it's very hard to get designers to think that way continuously. Failure to design "fail safe" was the cause of the Washington Metro crash a couple years back.

    When you have fail-safe requirements, if you can possibly avoid designing your system from scratch, avoid it.

    1. What's the weird, unnatural way of thinking that's necessary for fail-safe design? I'm not doubting you, just curious.

    2. Alon, the weird unnatural way of thinking consists of really going through all the failure modes carefully, and making sure that they are all safe and reliable. In some systems, the design standard are such that even if something "impossible" happens and one component fails "un-safe" (for example, because of an improperly connected wire), the system is supposed to still work correctly. The whole way of thinking requires a lot more rigorous and formal verification than typical software. And the really good designers will also pay lots of attention to reliability, because they realize that if the system isn't reliable, it'll get bypassed to keep trains moving, and that in itself is an unsafe failure.

    3. "the [BART] train’s P/m will exceed 32.52 Kw/mT after speed exceeds 79.7 ft/sec [if it is still accelerating at 4.4 feet per second per second at that speed]."

      BART trains presumably do accelerate at 4.4 ft/sec per second, but they don't maintain that accel up to 79 ft/sec. Your calculation tried to prove a 10-car train accelerated to 78 ft/sec in its own length, 700 ft-- but BART trains actually level off around 35 mph until the rear end of the train clears the platform. If your timing shows different you need to do the timing more carefully.

    4. To echo the other Anonymous, the key point is that basically you have to mentally keep track of every possible thing that could go wrong, including "impossible" ones, and work out "what happens then". It's an exceedingly *pessimistic* style of thinking, and most people are optimists, so it's unnatural to them.

  21. News from Caltrain.They will add 6 more train to schedule!

    > caltrain.com > About Caltrain > News > Caltrain Operations Dependent on One-time Funds - Again

    Caltrain Operations Dependent on One-time Funds - Again
    May 2, 2012

    .................... the proposed budget includes $375,000 to add six new trains to relieve overcrowding during peak commute times. Caltrain’s weekday ridership is at a historic high this year with a 12 percent increase and 20 consecutive months of ridership growth. During peak commute times, many of the system’s most popular trains have more passengers than seats.

    Great news. It is very interest to see how they add train into commute schedule.

    1. Any way you look at it, that's 6tph NOW. After the celebrations die down, consider this: How much will the ridership increase between 2012 and 2020, when the projections for blended service only account for 6tph (Caltrain)? Where does the extra Caltrain peak time capacity come from then? Longer trains? Commuters on HSR? More standing passengers? Less room for bicycles? Who's thinking ahead in San Carlos?

    2. Caltrain's problem is too many unattractive Trains Per Hour, because of its bloody-minded and stupid all-limited-stops all-end-to-end service plan, and refusal to even consider any sort of alternative. Moreover, its genius planners seek to concrete-in (SFFS, etc) this style of dismal operation, with no alternative possible, forever.

      There's no realistic need for more than four useful trains per hour to most stations. That's as good as BART provides, more than three decades after opening, on much more developed corridors, and BART has the immense advantage of the Bay Bridge as well as four SF CBD stations. Caltrain, in comparison, is paralleled by an ever-increasing number of freeway lanes -- being widened as we speak by VTA and SamTrans, the "partners" of Caltrain. (You can't make this stuff up!) and is decades behind in corridor demand generation and will, at best, decades from now, have one edge-of-CBD stop.

      Given double deck trains, given longer trains (8 EMU cars, with more capacity than BART's 10-car 210m trains, with even longer readily possible in the far future), given attractive and regular service, there's simply no need to think about 6tph corridor-wide, let alone 8tph or more.

      What we're seeing are just typical examples of working harder (more trains; more empty seats; more crazy random timetables with insane service gaps; more black hole operating cost) rather than working smarter (apply resources in a strategic and considered fashion; copy what other, proven successful operators already do today.)

      Any 6+tph corridor-long capacity "requirement" for Caltrain is coming from the same place as the "need" for 9tph of HSR did. Look at comparable corridors, in the US or elsewhere. It's nonsensical. Fewer but well-chosen useful trains beat more useless ones, every time, under every circumstance.

    3. According to Caltrain web site, additonal trains are not peak period.


      Service proposal comprised of:
      - Increase from 86 to 92 weekday trains
      - Restoration of 4 midday/shoulder peak trains
      - Addition of 2PM peak Limited trains as capacity allows
      ** Potential for strategica dditional stops to existing service to expand frequency and alleviate pressure on oversubscribed trains
      - Addition of service will provide additional onboard bike capacity

      "Additional stops to existing service...." This is only the hope of next schedule change. I want see this few years earlier.

    4. @Anonymous: You say that like it's a good thing. Seriously, thanks for pointing out that this presentation has been posted. Am I the only one not impressed by this presentation? If the overcrowding to be alleviated is AM/PM peak, then why the heck add 4 of 6 trains during the middle of the day? And another thing about this presentation: there's no mention of the hidden 2012 surplus revenue of around $14 Million. Go take a look at lines 11 and 13 of the Monthly Statement of Revenue and Expense (March 2012 and earlier). Doesn't anyone find it vaguely amusing that these lines in the statement are being used as balancing items? The R&E statement has shown break even (to the dollar!) for the last 4 months! Amazing! Unless, of course, the 2012 budget is a total fiction? Doesn't give us total confidence in the 2013 budget either, but anything else just wouldn't support the "sky is falling" stance, now would it?

    5. Michael, Do you think, Caltrain tried not to mentioned 14M$ surplus? They are afraid of more reduction from VTA/Samtrans/Mumi contribution once Caltrain demonstrate profitablity? If so, adding midday trains makes sense. Adding those trains may require more expense. If caltrain add peak train "WISELY", we will see more revenue than additional expense.

      By the way, my understanding of restoring 4 midday trains will be (departing) 9:40AM SJ, 9:37AM SF, 2:40PM SJ, 2:37PM SF. I don't believe those train will reduce the "overcrowded?" peak trains.

      IF Caltrain want dedicate funding (=TAX), they need to add more weekend train. Increase "occasional rider" will support caltrain tax if they belive usefulness of Caltrain.

    6. Finally, proposed time table is posted on Caltrain website.


      •Restore Trains 236, 237, 256 and 257 to the Caltrain schedule
      •Add two trains to the evening peak period
      •Add stops at Sunnyvale and Palo Alto if feasible, adjusting station stop times as needed by up to 5 minutes; modify stop times for trains on either side of the adjusted trains

      Caltrain will hold a public meeting to provide information and to seek comment on the proposed changes. The changes would go into effect in fall 2012.

      The meeting will be held Wednesday, May 30, 2012, at 6 p.m. at Caltrain administrative offices, 1250 San Carlos Ave., 2nd floor auditorium in San Carlos.

    7. Caltrain Rider224 May, 2012 14:59

      Richard Mlynarik Sez:

      Caltrain's problem is too many unattractive Trains Per Hour, because of its bloody-minded and stupid all-limited-stops all-end-to-end service plan, and refusal to even consider any sort of alternative. Moreover, its genius planners seek to concrete-in (SFFS, etc) this style of dismal operation, with no alternative possible, forever.

      There's no realistic need for more than four useful trains per hour to most stations. That's as good as BART provides, more than three decades after opening, on much more developed corridors,

      Okay, since you are so freaking smart, what do you propose?

      Please define unattractive/useless trains?

      Please define useful trains?

      If so many trains are unattractive, then why are so many running at capacity?

      It seems that with ridership of 42,000 per weekday, many people find Caltrain useful.

      Please check the BART schedule, you will find up to 11-12 trains per hour on the Concord – Daly City line during peak periods.

      Granted, the Caltrain schedule does have lots of misgivings, such as nearly useless off-peak and evening service. One train per hour just doesn’t cut it. One train per hour to some stations during peak hours to some stations also doesn’t cut it.

      Sure it could be better but Caltrain says the system is maxed out and they can’t add more service without jeopardizing the highly popular and successful Baby Bullet service. You should know this since I was told by someone at Caltrain that you were among a select group of the pubic/riders that provided input/evaluation on the new service model back in 2004/2005.

    8. The Baby Bullet service is very controversial. Sure, it allows for fast SJ-SF travel during rush hour, but there's a lot of riders at California Avenue, Santa Clara, and Lawrence that suffer from poor headways (>20 minutes) under the current schedule.

      The fundamental issue is that Caltrain is a commuter railroad, and not an intercity railroad. The old schedule was inoptimal for San Mateo residents but pretty good for people south of RWC headed to SF; the post-2004 schedule has led to phenomenal growth at certain stations and declines in ridership at others. One potential solution involves stopping at all stations south of Mountain View in both directions: reverse peak workers get to access high-tech job centers, while Silicon Valley's residents can more easily head up the peninsula during the traditional peak. (Essentially, the stations south of RWC need better headways, while those north except a few need minimal service due to relatively lower potential ridership.)

      Also, some people here do not trust Caltrain management in rectifying any of these problems (some think scheduling will get worse once HSR makes it to the peninsula), and there is some merit to these arguments. Caltrain's goal going forward should be to get as many people to work as possible (all transit systems are measured on the merit of ridership); faster travel times by stopping at few stations should only be implemented if a noticeable ridership boost without significant losses can be demonstrated.

    9. What IS Caltrain there to accomplish? Getting people to work? A social service? I'm sceptical about Caltrain management's ability to fix anything because they seem to be lacking in clarity of thought about what they are there to do. Hence the incremental "fixes" that don't appear to please many here. I'm very much afraid that HSR will add to Caltrain management confusion, tempted as they appear to be in to seeing HSR supported electrification as their best "fix" yet. Forget about HSR for the moment; what about a simple clock-face schedule ( let's say 4tph peak, 2tph off-peak, shall we?) that supports intermodal integration of schedules. Leave the County Transportation Agencies to do their damn job of getting folks to work WITHIN the counties and Caltrain concentrating on a solid inter-county service (all Baby Bullets, all the time) that actually gets long distance commuters out of their cars. And that's possible today: no HSR, no electrification, no long overtakes and two tracks only. Isn't that a foundation one can build on?

    10. Sucess of Baby Bullet cannot be ignored. However, every 30 min frequency with stopping pattern of weekend is much better than current 2 different stop pattern each 60 min frequency. (Reverse commute stop 22nd and Menlo Park instead of San Mateo and Sunnyvale)
      Next sucess is express train which stop all station south of Redwood City. Both Baby Bullet and this express train is quite makes sense to attract rider and bring revenue into Caltrain.
      In contrast, express traion which stops all station North of Redwood City show very poor ridership. The performances (Max road, total rider) are sometimes evan lower than midday train. My recommendation is run only north of Redwood City as local train, 2~3 car with ONE CONDUCTIOR!.
      Limited stop which skip some key station like Milbrae, Redwood City and 22nd (Reverse) is just confusion.

      Based on FACTS, my proposed time table will be

      BABY BULLET (Every 30 min):SF, [22nd], Milbrae, (San Mateo), Hilsdale, Redwood City, [Menlo Park], Palo Alto, Mountain View, (Sunnyvale), SJ, (Tamien).
      [Reverse commute only] (Tranditional commute only)

      EXPRESS (Every 30 min): SF, [22nd], Milbrae, [San Carlos], Redwood City ~local to San Jose.

      LOCAL (Every 30 min): SF ~ Redwood City only.

    11. Anonymous 25 May, 2012 09:54: This isn't precisely what you were describing (feel free to do so yourself using the service pattern tool), but it shows that you're thinking along the right lines.

      Even better, if crap olde tyme Caltrain historical replica trains are replaced by 21st century FLIRT/KISS type vehicles with high acceleration and with the short dwells that come with level boarding, not only do trip times shrink significantly, but there are no overtakes needed! Very nice indeed.

    12. CaltrainRider228 May, 2012 12:01

      Michael sez: “What IS Caltrain there to accomplish? Getting people to work? A social service?”

      Caltrain is here to provide transit service up and down the peninsula; much like BART provides transit service in the east bay and to San Francisco.

      I along with fellow riders find Caltrain to be preferable over BART. Caltrain provides the ability to provide local and express service, NO faregates, friendly conductors, monthly passes, seats for everyone and so on, BART is too Orwellian. However, we hate the lousy off-peak schedules, that’s where BART has the advantage.

      Electrification needs to happen regardless of HSR. Off-peak (and evening) should be 3 tph at the bare minimum, preferably 4 tph and at least 5-6 tph during the peaks, remember that BART is providing up to 11-12 tph on the Concord line during the peaks. For Caltrain to work as a transit service; and not a “commuter” service, Caltrain has to be convenient. I have no faith in the County Transportation Agencies doing the “job” of getting people to work “within” the counties; after all they’re nothing but bus companies. You say “all Baby Bullets, all the time” well, that is not the answer, Caltrain riders go to many different stops, so local trains provide an important service for Caltrain.

    13. CaltrainRider228 May, 2012 13:03

      Anonymous Sez: “Based on FACTS, my proposed time table will be”

      What facts?

      There must be a reason the all stops north of Redwood City have “poor” ridership? Is it the lack of frequency or something else?

      Perhaps it’s that the stations south of Redwood City and the bullet stations have better service than those north of Redwood City?

      Why run local to Redwood City only?

      Two to three cars? Sounds like this guy who gets up at the several Caltrain meetings I have gone to, he always tells Caltrain to run shorter trains during the off-peak. Caltrain says it costs more to switch cars around?

      Your proposal does provide better service to all stations compared to the current schedule, a good thing. But the semi express trains that stop at some stations NOT served by the bullets and NOT served by the (north) limited all stop south of Redwood City trains are nice to have.

      Are the two different stopping patterns for bullets really that bad? I seem to recall the reasoning behind this was to provide Baby Bullet to more stations and to keep the running time under one hour.

    14. CaltrainRider228 May, 2012 13:51

      Richard Mlynarik Sez: “Anonymous 25 May, 2012 09:54: This isn't precisely what you were describing” and "(feel free to do so yourself using the service pattern tool)"

      Interesting, but you show no stops at Hayward Park, Atherton or College Park. Why skipping these stops?

      Why are the north locals ending at Redwood City? This forces some riders to transfer at Redwood City, example: South SF to San Antonio.

      Why are there no bullets? Lack of Baby Bullets is a weakness as are stations with no service and the forced transfer.

      I’m still waiting for your explanation of “unattractive/useless/useful” trains and to check the BART Concord line for peak frequencies?

    15. CaltrainRider2: I don't owe you anything: answers, explanations, money, time, respect, etc.

      But as a matter of fact, I did expend the considerable effort to reply to your earlier anonymous message. Unfortunately it (along with a number of other missives) was eaten by a browser/blogspot bug (good luck getting Google to fix anything blogspot related), and, well, my tingly spidey sense strongly hints that I wouldn't find duplicating the effort on your behalf a to be a particularly warming or rewarding experience.

      There is no reason for Hayward Park, Atherton or College Park stops to exist under any scenario. Think about it, look at the numbers, look at a map, look at past postings.

      Yes, of course some trips require a (timed, cross-platform, nearly penalty-free) transfer in Redwood City. That's the entire point.

      Little time is saved by skipping the more widely-spaced stops south of Menlo Park. Negative ridership is gained by expressing past real and significant origin/destinations like Cal Ave, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and Lawrence in order to make it a couple minutes sooner, but nearly empty, to San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley. (Good arguments can be made for turning half of the trains at Mountain View or Sunnyvale and not wasting resources running too much service to over-served under-performing SJ.)

      Significant time is gained by expressing past the closer and more numerous stops north of Menlo Park.

      Good engineering is about well-chosen and data-driven compromises and trade-offs, not about idiot sloganeering ("Forced transfer!", "Third largest city in California!", "Undeniable success!", etc.)

    16. CaltrainRider2: What facts?

      I refereed Caltrain annual ridership reports 2011 and 2012. There is list of total ridership and max road of each trains. You will find very poor perfomance in peak period which is local train north of Redwood City.
      I don't complain about those poor ridership but Caltrain need to adjust the demand - shorter train. This will be good justification to reduce the number of conductor. 2 conductors are wast of money with such train.

      Two different stopping patterns for bullets benefit only two station: San jose and SF. How many people ride between SJ-SF? Majority of ridership comes from Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto. Like weekend Baby Bullet (64 min), 4~5 min increase is easily justify by better 30 min frequency. Do you know why BART is so popular? - Its frequency.

    17. @ CaltrainRider2
      "For Caltrain to work as a transit service; and not a “commuter” service, Caltrain has to be convenient" - Exactly! And so by your definition we have a commuter service! And therefore to my point: until there is the capital available for electrification projects etc. which hold out the hope of turning it into a "transit" service, then Caltrain should look to the short term (the next six or so years?)and offer the most efficient and cost effective commuter service as a top priority to build/maintain ridership. And maybe if Caltrain could lease a small DMU fleet for off-peak service, then we could all get what we need.
      One thing we all appear to agree upon: the current schedule sucks (and the proposed "fix")and we want a clock-face schedule with reliable frequency.

  22. Tim: While observing the front panel speedometer at times I too have observed BART trains accelerating out of stations level off at 36 mph then resume accelerating at a rate that I have yet to discern. Within the station if there is a 0.5 second delay due to the finite rate of change in acceleration (a transit industry norm) then peak power would occur at 4.4 feet/sec below the level-off speed of 36 mph or 52.8 – 4.4 = 48.4 ft/sec. In this case peak power within the station would be 19.78 Kw/metric ton. This power level is 35.5% above a BART car’s maximum continuous power rating.
    This discontinuous acceleration profile would take 1.42 seconds longer than a constant acceleration rate the full length of the platform. Possibly BART changed their acceleration profiles over time. (BART did raise their system-wide average speed from 33 to 36 mph around a decade ago.) Or maybe I was careless in my timing observations. In any case you clearly understood the nature of my original claim. (Acceleration rate times speed is a direct measurement of a weight/power ratio.) Your questioning given data is a valid criticism and should be encouraged.

  23. "(BART did raise their system-wide average speed from 33 to 36 mph around a decade ago.)"

    What are they doing different? Top speed is no higher, is it? And acceleration hasn't increased?

    Far as I know the limit past station platforms has always been 36 mph or whatever it is-- since 1972 anyway.

    If we assume acceleration increases linearly from zero to 4.4 feet/sec per sec in 1.5 sec (good a guess as any?) and thereafter is constant at 4.4 then a standing-start 700 ft will take 18.58 sec and final speed will be 78.46 ft/sec. We agree they don't actually do that. The first 210 ft (three cars) will take 10.51 seconds and they do seem to live up to that.

  24. As a calibration point, I added the proportion of road crossings that would be grade-separated at each phase. This helps dispel the popular notion that most road crossings on Caltrain are and will be at-grade.

  25. The stipulation according to the Caltrain Bended Operations Analysis (CBOA) that a passing train must overtake the train being passed by at least 7 minutes is preposterous. For example this 7 minutes overtake requirement includes a 3 minute headway required between when the express train passes, at 79 to 110 mph, the converging switch and the just starting to accelerate following train. This CBO passing analysis is not worth further examination.
    The present on-going rapid improvement in loop gain, speed, and reliability for recently developed software driven electronic control systems suggests current designers of train separation systems should have confidence that future computer driven train position control systems will enable close headways at high speeds while not exceeding current established safety limit standards.
    The minimum headway between trains running at equal speeds controlled by a continuously updated position detection system with a constant safety braking rate standard (B) for all operating speeds would be H = V/2B + (L + So)/V + R where (L + So)/V equals the time required for the entire train plus the minimum distance between trains (So) to pass a wayside point. Reaction time (R), less than two seconds for a computer controlled system includes the gradual braking rate change delay required in order to prevent tripping standing passengers.
    The period it takes one train to overtake another (T) at a given express track speed (V) is equal to the minimum line headway (H) plus the period required for the passing train to pull far enough ahead of the train being passed to allow the local train just passed to proceed: T = V/2*B + R + 3*(L + So)/V + Ds where Ds is equal to the diverging switch re-alignment period. Setting V = 110 mph, an assured braking rate B = 1.5 mphs, train length L = 1320 feet, minimum distance between trains So = 180 feet, reaction period required to achieve full safety braking R = 2 seconds, and diverging route switch re-alignment period Ds = 20 seconds. Therefore the minimum gain period (T) required for an overtaking train needed to gain on the train being passed is: T = 110/2*1.5 + 3*(1320 + 180)/161 + 2 + 20 = 87 seconds. A 20 Kw/tonne 110 maximum speed local train with a 25 second dwell time will fall 72 seconds behind a 110 mph constant speed train on a parallel track.
    For those who insist on a fixed block four aspect signal system here is a possible design for a 110 mph four aspect 2,000 foot per block (Bl = 2,000 feet) panel-mounted speed-limit indication system which is computed by the block color and position in that block the train front-end occupies. The maximum speed allowed within each block would be 60 mph for yellow, 90 mph for flashing yellow and 110 mph for solid green. H = 7*Bl/V + Ds = 7*2,000 + 20 = 107 seconds.

    1. Oh please! Do us a favor and study up on the practice of railway control systems. A great place to start, worth every penny, is Joern Pachl's text on Railway Operation and Control. Your musings bear no relation to the current state of the art.

  26. CaltrainRider2:Two to three cars? Sounds like this guy who gets up at the several Caltrain meetings I have gone to, he always tells Caltrain to run shorter trains during the off-peak. Caltrain says it costs more to switch cars around?

    Benefit of shorter (2~3 car) train:
    (1) Higher accerelation. This benefited Milbrae-Redwood city section where station spacing is 1~2 Miles apart.
    (2) One conductor. No arguement by Union since number of car/conductor is same as current. Reduce cost.
    (3) Lower cost to rebuild hold out station: South San Francisco, Broadway and Atherton (If necessary). 3 car train need shorter platform.

    What else benefit can we find?