04 March 2014

CalMod Gains Momentum

CalMod is the corny abbreviation for the Caltrain Modernization program, which encompasses the CBOSS train control system and the peninsula corridor electrification project (PCEP, if you really want to sound like you're in the know).  CalMod is kicking into high gear this week, with the following major developments:
  • Release of the revised DEIR, a major step to clear the electrification project under CEQA.  Compared to the last edition of this document from 2009 (itself warmed over from 2004 and used to garner FTA approval of the project under NEPA), this update is a much stronger and more thorough document that clearly reflects the higher degree of public awareness of the project.  The JPB plans to certify the final EIR this fall.
  • At the next board meeting, award of a six-year $4.3 million contract to the new Director of Project Delivery, Dave Couch.  This is a name we'll see much more of in coming years, as Mr. Couch will take charge of orchestrating the day-to-day management of the army of consultants, staff and contractors that will expend $1.5 billion to deliver the modernization project.  It appears that he will report to Marian Lee (CalMod executive officer).
  • Also at the next board meeting, award of a six-year, $24.2 million contract to LTK Engineering Services to carry out the procurement and supervise the design, manufacture, delivery, testing, and entry into service of Caltrain's new fleet of Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains.  LTK has a long history of providing Caltrain's in-house vehicle expertise, and this contract expands their role.  At typical overhead burden rates, the budget looks like it will pay for about 8 to 10 full-time positions for the duration of the project.
It's full steam ahead, even if there remain significant obstacles.
  1. HSR bond funds.  The elephant in the room is the ongoing legal wrangling over the high-speed rail bond funding that makes up about half of the CalMod budget.  CalMod executive officer Marian Lee recently gave a surprisingly candid statement to a Daily News reporter:
    Asked if there's any danger of Caltrain not receiving the state money if the high-speed rail project is killed in the courts, Lee offered a pragmatic response.
    "We have to hurry up and spend the money, because if they disappear, they disappear with the money," she said. "Then we are half short."
    The question seems to be whether they will get any money at all, never mind spending it quickly.  This could be the number one show-stopper as lawyers prepare to debate the minutiae of trip times and compliance with the bond act.  If the HSR project folds, things may quickly become interesting.
  2. Piece-mealing challenge.  The DEIR is likely to draw a lawsuit that challenges the boundaries between the electrification project and the high-speed rail blended project, claiming that electrification is the camel's nose under the tent for HSR.  CEQA prohibits a practice known as "piece-mealing," whereby projects are analyzed incrementally by parts to make the environmental impacts appear smaller.  Caltrain would have to make the case in court, as it already does in the DEIR, that the electrification project stands separately on its own merits regardless of the source of funding.  CEQA is a self-enforcing statute, so lawsuits of one kind or another are expected.
  3. Regulatory teething issues.  A big question mark is the CPUC rule-making process for 25 kV electrification, which despite the world-wide ubiquity of this technology is nevertheless a first within the borders of California.  The CHSRA consultants have run away with the process by tailoring it far too narrowly to high-speed rail, which may create a problematic regulatory gap for Caltrain and delay the electrification project.
As is customary in 21st-century California, the process will be far more expensive, slow and litigious than in other first-world countries.  Par for the course.


  1. LTK! The people who brought you SMART (and revolving-dooored into running SMART.)

    High level platforms.
    Gauntlet tracks.

    Oh, and LTK's vechicle technology recommendation for SMART? That the vehicles be designed in-house to FRA standards ... by LTK, under a lucrative follow-on contract.

    Caltrain has a fucking awesome future.

  2. Well, gosh. If you wanted to do a multi-billion-dollar project -- currently nominally about $1.5bn, with the current contracts already behind schedule and heading over-budget -- who would you put in charge of it?

    Someone with engineering experience? Someone with project-management experience? Maybe.
    Caltrain -- Mr. Scanlon, who if newspapers are correct, gets three full-time salaries plus expenses -- picks someone with great experience at BART. Experience doing "community outreach" for a new BART station.
    And before that, what looks like a public-policy degree. In other words, someone with *no* relevant job experience, *no* relevant professional qualifications, and *no* relevant education.

    So of *course* the "Director of Caltrain Modernzation' (now Executive Officer of CalMod) needs someone to do the .. actual executive oversight.

    I dunno, Clem. You tell me. What do you think the organizational DNA in "CalMod" will be, if the Executive Officer doesn't recognize ... oh, let';s say, basic, Newtonian, pre-calculus kinematics or dynamics, when they see it?

    1. If you refer to Marian Lee, I think she has been effective in calming the waters after the HSR EIR fiasco of a couple of years ago. Recall CHSRA spent $45 million for HNTB to prepare a DEIR that never saw the light of day. At least here there is some output.

      I was expecting to do a huge post on this new electrification DEIR, but after spending a few hours with it I didn't find much of anything with which to take serious issue. Am I not reading it closely enough or have I lost my critical edge?

      While in some quarters these folks are ironically denigrated as "America's Finest", in my experience I have found them to be sincere in trying to do their job in an industry and culture that is what it is. We will get the Canyonero of electrification projects because we don't live in Germany. If we don't like that we can go live in Germany.

      Oh no, Clem has gone soft!

    2. Clem,

      All fair points, I guess. My point was that if you hire a boss (formerly director,now executive officer) to run a multibillion-dolllar engineering project, and that person has not even the beginnings ofa clue about the engineering aspects, then you're guaranteeing that the engineering decision-making gets contracted out.

      Hence the need for someone like David Couch. hence the "business as usual" LTK Engineering contract. Well, now we can see part of the reason why Caltrain's cost per km are so much higher than world rates.

      And I contend that Ms. Lee is flat wrong about losing HSR money. If Caltrain electrification loses the $600 miillion of HSR money, then MTC will claw back all the matching funds which came at MTC's discretion, faster than you can say "Dumbarton Rail".

      And it's not "Canyonero" which bothers me. It's paying ~5x world rates to get an inferior product. As for "sincere in trying to do their job in an industry and culture that is what it is": -- just *who* is responsible for the culture in CalMod?

    3. Clem,

      What has made me crazy for two decades is that nobody is holding a gun to anybody's head to force them to make the wrong very simple technical decisions. And they do the wrong thing every time.

      We can all be as nice to them as you like because big bad BART comes in and steals their lunch money to give to Steve Heminger's special friends, but why be nice to them when they simply fail to do menial tasks?

      They've had 15 to 20 years to pick up the phone and make level boarding happen. They've done zip.

      Nobody forces them to install 40% more catenary masts than the evil foreign Germans, They invented their own standards, they're forcing up the costs all by themselves, they're increasing impacts all by themselves.

      Nobody requires them to not develop any service plans and instead to just randomly piss away our cash. They freely choose never to do any sort of customer-facing planning.

      They had a perfect opportunity to escape FRA regulation forever. They didn't because they freely chose the "fun" project of "working with freight".

      Nobody wielding weapons requires outside boarding and New Jersey-style FSSF of green-field track infrastructure in service of mixed local/express running to a "timetable". They freely chose to inflict this disaster on us.

      There's nobody at the FRA who decrees galvanised steel "signal houses" for a couple hundred transistors and a few batteries to drive a few LEDs atop many tons of unnecessary over-the-top signal gantry. They self-select it.

      Nobody held a gun to heads to force them to do an in-house development of a globally unique signalling system at three times the going cost. No regulation required it. Nothing except criminal intent to defraud justifies it. A 26-train 50-mile junction-free low-ridership slow-speed super-infrequent hickville shuttle line developing it's own globally unique life safety systems? Don't blame the Germans.

      No repeated waterboarding lead to laying out Transbay Terminal tracks to minimize train throughput. No threats against families froced in single-bank escalators direct passenger flows into obstacles. They freely chose to do so, on a blank slate, fully cleared, constraint-free site.

      It's their own selves that install fences and chicanes and detours and the whole "miniature golf course" rigmarole adding minutes of platform access time to all trips. Nobody makes them make passengers line and up wait and have every one of their papers inspected before they are allowed to approach the hours-idling trains in SF. But they do. They choose it.

      Nobody forces hourly headways at peak hour. Nobody forces them to carry around three conductors on trains. The Germans don't. The State of California doesn't. BART doesn't. MTC doesn't. The FRA doesn't. They choose to.

      Nobody forces a random-stop random-headway trains into a "bullet" timetable, resulting in whining about out of capacity" (at 6tph!). They choose it. No nefarious Germans involved.

      I don't know Marian Lee from a hole in the ground, so I have nothing (and never have had) whatsoever to say about her abilities or professionalism or work ethic or intelligence. But by God Caltrain shows not the slightest sign of making even the most insignificant correct technical decision today, just as it has failed to do so at every opportunity over the last two decades. Look at your "Corridor To Do List" at the top-right of the page!

      * Start with a good timetable. FAIL.
      * Keep slow traffic in the middle. FAIL.
      * Don't short-change Caltrain service. FAIL.
      * Straighten some curves. FAIL.
      * Banish heavy freight trains. FAIL.
      * Avoid tunnels. FAIL.
      * Use a common platform height. FAIL.
      * Buy extra-wide trains. FAIL.
      * Use off-the-shelf train control. FAIL.
      * No elephantine stations. FAIL.
      * Don't botch San Bruno. FAIL.
      * Use poles, not headspans. FAIL.

      Blame the Krauts.

    4. So let's give them the benefit of the doubt. One more time. After two decades. Otherwise why even care so passionately?

    5. I was expecting to do a huge post on this new electrification DEIR, but after spending a few hours with it I didn't find much of anything with which to take serious issue. Am I not reading it closely enough or have I lost my critical edge?

      Oh no, Clem has gone soft!

      Sorry Clem, you've gone soft. A lot of residents are going to be concerned with visual impacts of the overhead wire. The placement -- and number -- of poles leaves a lot to be desired. Note in particular figure 3.1-3, and all the photo-simulations showing outside poles.

    6. it's just awful the way wires hovering over the station will ruin the ambiance


    7. Mr Engineer,

      The overhead part of figure 3-1.3 looks fine to me.

      It's the insane number of platform tracks, the insanely narrow platforms, the large numbers of out-of-service trains parked at the platform tracks, and the insane wrong-height platforms which are the problem.

      Redo the simulation with a generous total of four platform tracks and two ~650mm height ~310m long platforms and we might be on to something.

      Caltrain electrification is $1.3bn of FRA-compiant lipstick on a festering maggot-ridden pig carcass.

    8. Oh no, Richard has gone soft too.

      The gantry seems quite unnecessary. Just randomly pulling images, I don't see the professionals usually doing that:


      Perhaps there is some technical reason I'm not understanding. Or why the heck they put support columns on an already cramped platform?

    9. Zürich HB

      BTW if you want to get all technical about visual clutter the SF photosim, note that the graphic artist (not an electrical engineer, shockingly) has cut-and-pasted unnecessary messenger wires paralleling the catenary above every track.

      The real problem is still too many tracks, too many platforms, too narrow platforms, too low platforms, too little service, too many staff, and too much equipment too long out of revenue service. Too much steel and copper certainly also ... but, you know, ... orders of magnitude.

    10. Failed link http://www.panoramio.com/photo_explorer#view=photo&with_photo_id=42078032&user=239280. Whatever. Doesn't matter that much. Orders of magnitude ... Caltrain has them. 1.3x10^9 dollars for 50 route-miles of electrification. 10^9!

    11. Is that excluding CBOSS? I think so. Even if it is, that amount bundles both electrification (at ~5x world rates)?, and a new fleet of EMU trainsets.

    12. Piling on a bit late here, but Stuttgart Hbf doesn't use gantries either ...

    13. Mr Check: Stuttgart has olde tyme (no longer in use) service platforms between platform tracks, so there's plenty of space for inter-track stanchions with simple hangers on either side, as can readily be seen in the image to which you linked.

      I'm not disputing that German practice at major stations (cf Mr Engineer's pair of examples) and their approaches in a lot more headspan-y than you'll see in steel-ier Switzerland or Japan or Norway, but there's another explanation for Stuttgart Hbf. (And indeed there are a few impressive headspans in the tightest parts of the Stuttgart approach throat, but on the whole it a relatively spacious site with room for trackside masts.)

      Headspans are more prone to fall apart and take out a lot of stuff at once unless they're maintained to a high level, and honestly, based on your experience of Caltrain over the last 40 years, what do you think the chances of that are about here?

    14. Mr Kiwi,

      Excluding CBOSS. And CBOSS cost overruns.

      As for a "new fleet" of EMUs, note that Caltrain doesn't plan that, even. Mixed diesel-hauled traffic (SF-SJ, not just SJ-Gilroy) for decades to come. Because, you know, "saving" $50 million (if that) worth of obsolete rolling stock and complicating the entire service plan for decades is like, totally worth it when you're spending thirty times that amount. We're talking brilliant engineering and financial minds here, with razor-sharp attention to cost/benefit and orders of magnitude.

      DEIR Table 2-1 for 2019: 9 diesel locos, 45 trailers (= 9x5) 96 "electric multiple units" (= 32x3 or 24x4, some will be doubled up on some peak trains)

      This assumes, of course, Caltrain's bat shit insane all-limited-all-the-time peak timetable, Caltrain's crazy insitence on operating all trains the full length of the corridor, Caltrain's incredibly slow terminal turnbacks, and Caltrain's impossibly and inexcusably slow long dwell times and non-level platforms ... stuff they fully intend to operate, forever.

      Far better idea to operate an attractive and efficient coordinated, customer-friendly, ridership-oriented timetable with a smaller, more efficient, more intensively used, more useful fleet and ditch/resell the low-performance diesel relics.

      Orders of magnitude, people, orders of magnitude ... Spend a billion and a half, but mess things up to "save" 3% of that amount ...
      America's Finest!

      "The required fleet size for the 4 + 2 + 0 scenario is amazingly small: just 16 trains plus spares."
      Indeed. That's the magic of the combination of a service plan, the appropriate rolling stock and strategically targeted investments in infrastructure.

      It's a combination of controlled, shorter dwell times (level boarding platforms and less awful rolling stock), higher acceleration and braking rates (less awful rolling stock), tightened turnback times (less awful rolling stock, marginally less awful operating slackness, and all predicated on controlled dwell times), that enables and is enabled by a simple, frequent, passenger-friendly, resource-efficient service plan.

      Rocket science!

      Play around with the simulated timetables I linked to and try to make anything as simple and nice work with worse performing trains and longer dwells. All the pieces need to play together.

      And imagine what you could deliver on top of this if each of those 16+epsilon trains were operated by a single feather-bed-swadded button-pusher instead of by three or four.

    15. .. what's the Dr. Evil quote?
      That's *Dr*. Kiwi to you. I didnt' spend 7 years in [...] school to be called "Mr.".

    16. nope..

  3. So Clem, in your opinion, can Caltrain electrification happen without the HSR money? If so, how?

    Tony D.

    1. It will happen only if the MTC still wants it to happen. There are a few scenarios here:

      1) HSR bond money for Caltrain is denied, but the HSR project survives; then electrification will survive and find alternate non-Prop1A HSR funding with fewer strings attached.
      2) HSR as currently planned implodes entirely. All bets are off.
      2a) MTC stays the course and helps Caltrain to scrape together alternate funding in anticipation of HSR coming back (if ever) in improved form... more direct, faster and with significant private funding up front.
      2b) MTC withdraws support in favor of peninsula BART.

      Do not underestimate this latter possibility. The key underlying factor here isn't so much "manifest destiny" or "Ring the Bay", but rather that electrification is a jobs-poor project. It doesn't cost enough (I know, cough cough), it involves highly manufactured goods made elsewhere, and the amount of concrete poured is frankly minuscule. Under a blended HSR scenario, it has the redeeming quality that it leads to later grade separation and overtake track construction projects, the DTX, and other juicy infrastructure worth several billion dollars to the transportation industrial complex. The fact that it's a stepping stone explains why it's suddenly moving forward after having been stuck in neutral since the 1990s, for as long as it was being promoted as a stand-alone project.

      That's my reading of the tea leaves. It may be incorrect.

    2. Thanks Clem. I personally like your "2a" scenario. I guess we shall see...

  4. "I was expecting to do a huge post on this new electrification DEIR, but after spending a few hours with it I didn't find much of anything with which to take serious issue."

    Appendix I: Ridership Technical Memorandum is laughable. Or pathetic. Take your pick. Written by VTA staff so obvs no surprise there, either way.

    Look forward to hour headways after 7pm in 2040, citizens! And be grateful!
    Diesel hauled "bullet" trains in 2020. Be grateful!
    Weird-ass "limited" peak service on all peak trains in 2020 and 2040 and to infinity and beyond!
    Sloooooooooooooooow all-stops local service forever. $1.23 billion for electrification doesn't seem to be delivering anything much ... except to Atherton and Broadway (Psssssst: "Level Boarding").
    San Jose Diridon, SF Fourth & King, and Palo Alto, and Mountain View are all modeled to have higher ridership than SF Transbay. Diridon 29% more, 4th&King 70% more, PA 67% more, MV 4% more. Srsly! Srsly.

    1. The Transbay ridership is laughably low because they are assuming that 4 out 6 Caltrains per hour will continue to terminate at 4th & King. That's the crux of the issue. Transbay will be useless until they fix the approach track.

    2. So it'll be useless, then... ;)

  5. Clem, this is simply incredible. Un-credible. No-credibility.

    "2.4.3 Operating and Maintenance Costs and Revenues
    The prior 2009 EA/EIR (FTA and JPB 2009) presented estimates of operating and maintenances [sic] costs and revenues for the electrification project. The JPB is presently developing new estimates that reflect current assumptions and the recent ridership estimates. The updated operations and maintenance costs will be presented in the Final EIR.

    Basic, basic, basic stuff. The stuff that would have to be iron-clad years before EVALUATING a billion-and-a-half dollar capital expenditure. Because (unless it is all a scam solely involving government payouts to private parties?) is that not the sole point of capital expenditures: to improve operating efficiency?!?

    Basic, basic, basic stuff: Presenting vital environmental and project evaluation data in the FINAL EIR, with the (excellent) assumption that the "publicly accountable" Board will simply rubber stamp whatever is presented (after enduring and ignoring/sleeping through/playing with phones during any legally required "public hearing") is, well, brazen.

    "America's Finest Transportation Planning Professionals" as some say.

    CalMod momentum, indeed. (Shouldn't it be "iCalModr" for extra with-it mobile-web cyber-ness?)

    1. facebook.com/My.iCalModr! Follow us on instagram!

      AOL keyword "iCalModr"

    2. I dunno, does rebuilding freeway interchanges improve operating efficiency? Did the new Bay Bridge improve operating efficiency? Welcome to America!

    3. Clem,

      A couple excellent straw-men there, in just one sentence!

      Is a "Caltrain" budget paying for freeway interchanges? (SamTrans and VTA surely are. Win!) Is Caltrans crying poor-mouth about operating deficits and being unable to run more than one train per hour?

      Given that it is a project billed to "Caltrain", it makes perfect sense to ask whether it will put Caltrain further in the fiscal hole, with higher fares and fewer trains and higher subsidies ... probably all three.

      Given that it is a project billed to "Caltrain", it makes perfect sense to ask whether spending $1.3 billion on some other combination of projects would result in more improvement to the service provided by "Caltrain", or whether spending less than $1.3 billion on electrification might result is the same improvement and less operating deficit, or whether spending less than $1.3 billion on a combination of projects might result in more improvement and less operating deficit.

      Given that America's Finest Transportation Planning Professionals billed many millions of dollars and spent a decade to produce this magnificent technical document, perhaps one might expect some concrete work product beyond a vegetation survey? (That, frankly, being about all I can see in the DEIR, other than some fill-in-the-obvious-blanks-badly electrical infrastructure siting maps.)

      I've heard that the Iraq War is a bad thing, and I'm informed that Caltrain electrification costs less than the Iraq War.
      That makes $1.3 billion (before inevitable, guaranteed, bet-your-house-on-it project cost overruns) Caltrain Electrification an unquestionably Good Thing, right? Because, Cheney! Caltrans! Kittens!

      Exterminate All Rational Thought!

  6. The following Caltrain performance simulation data is the result of run-time analyses responsive to various train weight-to-power-ratios, speed limits, plus level boarding’s effect on total running time. Performance was simulated along a Caltrain route-segment, between SJ Diridon and SF 22nd Stations, which was chosen in order to present a clear run-time contrast data-set due to the effect of train configuration variations not obscured by additional run time losses such as delays due to sharp curves or extreme schedule padding on the approach to terminal stations
    A 5 car 1,000,000 pound diesel train accelerated by a 3,000 peak traction horsepower engine (Diesel engine power available for traction is reduced by alternator and traction motor (i^2)*R power losses.) produces a 4.93 kw/tonne traction power/weight ratio with a 25% adhesion limiting reliable peak acceleration rates to 1.43 mph per second. The 45.6 mile 22 segments between stops route from the SJ Diridon to the 22nd Street SF Station has a weekend all stop scheduled run time of 86 minutes. A train motion computer simulation concludes an average 52 second dwell period would enable this train configuration to meet the currently scheduled 86 minute run period. The same diesel train configuration and operating mode would traverse the same line in 59.1 minutes if this train did not stop at half the intermediate stations.
    A 10 kw/tonne EMU with a 2.1 mph per second maximum acceleration combined with a 79 mph speed limit calling on the same 22 stations with a 40 second average dwell period has a computed run-time of 68 minutes; the same pace projected for a proposed Caltrain EMU’s all stops run time schedule. Skipping half these stations an EMU with the same run-time-related performance specifications would require 51.9 minutes to traverse the same route. Using this EMU as a base line the following specific run period reduction measures will produce these additional run time savings:
    1) Increasing acceleration and braking rates from 2.1 mph/ sec to 3 mph/sec plus raising the speed limit from 79 to 100 mph will decrease (local/express) train run periods to (65.4/47.7) minutes for a (−4%/−8%) run period change.
    2) Doubling peak traction power to 20 kw/tonne will enhance (local/express) performances to (58.0/43.1) minutes yielding an additional (−11%/−10%) run period reduction.
    3) A level boarding scheme intelligently executed, when waiting passengers are clearly informed about a soon to arrive train’s space-available cars for example, could produce a realistic 20 second dwell time reduction to 20 seconds. This 20 second per station operating savings reduces total (local/express) run periods to (50.7/39.4) minutes. These (7.3/3.7) minute run time savings provide a (12.6%/8.5%) proportional run period reduction. Note that the proportionate run period reduction is only (10.8%/7.0%) if level boarding is the only run-period-related EMU upgrade. Level boarding run time savings, (7.3/3.7) minutes, are the same either way of course but improving from a lower run-period base after other run period reductions are in place will produce a greater percentage level boarding improvement. Most transit industry ridership modeling responsive to transit speed take into account proportionate run period changes rather than the absolute values of run times. ‘Ridership is inversely proportional to the run period’ is a phrase frequently cited.
    4) All the foregoing run time reducing factors combined will produce (local/express) train operating periods of (50.7/39.4) minutes for a (−25%/−24%) run period saving compared to the proposed mediocre performance, (68/51.9) minute, EMU. This enhanced EMU improvement approach appears to be a more effective step for inducing greater ridership than the current plan to convert diesel trains (86/59.1) to (68/51.9) minute EMUs yielding a (−21%/−12%) run time improvement. Going from a (86/59.1) minute diesel directly to a brisk performance EMU (50.7/39.4) minute would yield a (−41%/−33%) run period reduction.

    1. While 20 kW/tonne might be a little more sporty than commonly available EMU rolling stock, I agree that "blending" requires the highest power-to-weight ratio that money can buy. This is a very important requirement. As you point out, for every two minutes of trip time saved by electrification, level boarding can save another minute. Another key benefit of level boarding, especially in a "blended" scenario, is predictability and reliability of dwell times. The two improvements go hand-in-hand, and Caltrain's EMU procurement needs to reflect this by "future-proofing" the trains for an eventual system-wide conversion to level boarding.

  7. The three-piece FLIRT weighs 100 t and comes with 2000 kW (and 2600 kW peak power), with should come close to 20 kW/t. Longer versions have more tonnes, but the same power, but maybe Stadler is inclined to fit in more engines if you ask politely.

    Or you take the double-deck KISS, whose four-part Bernese variant comes with continuous 18½ kW/t and peak 27⅔ kW/t.

    1. No Stadler for you.

      PCJPB and the CalMod contractors are very aggressively ensuring that all funding for all sections of the project is poisoned by "Buy American".

      No rewards for PCJPB in house and CalMod guys otherwise. Swiss guys don't need them to tell them how to make trains that work.

      96 car EMU order (PCJPB has already set order size, even without service planning to optimize fleet, like Swiss guys would do) isn't nearly enough to set up a "Buy American" bolt-together facility and negotiate the minefield of "Buy American" sub-assemblies, which gets worse and worse and worse every year.

      You want to see FLIRTs and KISSes? Buy a plane ticket.

      Also: you want to travel to LA before 2050? Buy a plane ticket. Same reason!

      You want to see nice Swiss trains in California? Ride eBART. Not Caltrain. Not Metrolink. Not SMART. No. No. No.

    2. What's with the Swiss obsession?

      yes, it's a fact that in the US "light rail" encompasses all non-FRA-dino-train rolling stock.
      But that leaves a *huge8 range, from trams, to tram-trains, to S-Bahn (which anywhere else in the world, counts as Heavy Rail. Well, maybe excluding Canada. Mexico is a different case.

      Again: what's with "poisoned by `Buy America'"? Is this a dog-whistle for "can't buy Swiss"?
      Siemens has a factory in Sacramento, which is famously delivering Eurosprinter/Vectron FRA-compliant variants for the NEC, to replace the last of the EMD-built-under-license ASEA Rc4s.

      And, as "any fule kno:, ASEA merged with BBC to become ABB, which became ADTranz (ChrylserDaimler Rail) which was acquired by .. Bombardier. Which is why Bombardier, to this day, participates in Siemens Velaro contracts.

      And again "as any fule kno", ... Siemens and Alsthom are negotiating a deal, whereby Siemens gives Alstom its rail division, and Siemens gets Alstom's AC Power division.
      Great for EU monopolists. Bad for buyers across the globe.

      So..... what is it with the SchweizerDeutsch obsession, again?

    3. and Bombardier is headquartered in that far off exotic city of Montreal.... who have more locomotives running on the NEC than Siemens will have. That got manufactured in that All American city of Kassel Germany...