27 May 2017

CalMod 1.1

This being Silicon Valley, future plans for Caltrain modernization are known as CalMod 2.0, the next big thing beyond the CalMod 1.0 improvements that are already under contract.

CalMod 2.0 is a list of future improvements worth about $750M that includes:
  • Full fleet conversion to 8-car EMUs ($440M)
  • Broadband connectivity ($30M)
  • Maintenance facility improvements ($36M)
  • Level boarding and platform extensions ($250M)
In the grand scheme of things, these aren't outrageous expenses ("only" another 38% over and above the $2B tab for CalMod 1.0), but they're not cheap, either. To meet capacity challenges in the short term, possibly concurrently with delivery of CalMod 1.0, perhaps some of these expenses can be moved up to realize the maximum bang for the buck as soon as 2021.

CalMod 1.1 would consist of just two line items:

1) Lengthen EMUs to 8 cars, for $145M

The EMU fleet for CalMod 1.0 consists of sixteen 6-car trains, with a reduced seating capacity of 558 that has caused much yammering amid the increasing load factors during peak commute hours. Even without a ridership bump from the "new and modern" effect, it is likely these trains will be packed from day one. Now is the time to start doing something about it.

Seating layout for two extra cars (based on Stadler brochure)
Two unpowered cars would seat up to 264 passengers.
The contract with Stadler includes an option for another 96 cars priced at $390M, a figure larded up to $440M in the CalMod 2.0 total presumably due to the usual procurement overheads. This figure is for 100% fleet replacement, with all the remaining diesel consists being retired. In the short term, only 1/3rd of the option cars would need to be exercised; this involves purchasing 32 cars or 2 extra cars for each of the sixteen EMU consists in the CalMod 1.0 order.

The per-train capacity will increase by well over 200 seats per train, back to a level that will mitigate peak hour crowding. However, 8-car EMUs will exceed the length of many of the existing platforms.

2) Extend platforms to a minimum length of 700 feet, for $25M

Platform extensions are relatively cheap to build, especially when you don't need to rebuild the entire length of station platforms as would be needed for level boarding. You can leave vertical circulation (stairs, ramps) and amenities (vending machines, lighting, benches, PA system, departure boards, etc.) alone and just tack on a short length of concrete, and perhaps move a pedestrian crossing. Caltrain excels at building platforms and has done so extensively, pouring some 5 linear miles of platforms over the last 18 years!

The length of Caltrain's existing platforms is documented in this schematic of California rail systems. To dock an 8-car EMU, platforms need to be extended to at least 700 feet. The necessary extension lengths are graphed at right; labels show the year of completion of each platform's construction.

The total amount of platform extension required to operate 8-car EMUs is approximately 3500 feet. This figure excludes Hillsdale and South San Francisco, both of which are already slated to be rebuilt to 700 feet. Each foot of platform costs about $7000 to build, on the basis of a typical $10M cost for two 700-foot platforms from past platform reconstruction projects. Therefore, the tab for extending all platforms to 700 feet (for the time being, at their current height of 8 inches) lies in the range of $25M.

Start Planning Now

The bottom line: another $175M or an extra 9% investment over CalMod 1.0 yields an extra 23% peak hour seated capacity for CalMod 1.1. It would be best to start planning for CalMod 1.1 now, and to turn CalMod 2.0 into the big level boarding project for the 2020s. In software parlance, the CalMod 1.1 patch should be applied immediately upon release of CalMod 1.0.

82 comments:

  1. @Clem, do you have the chance to look at CHSRA's latest SF-SJ alternatives presented in the April 2017 Community Meeting? If yes, would you provide some of your comment in this blog? The most obvious change is the Milbrae trench is no longer considered, but the San Jose viaduct over the CEMOF is still considered.

    On Caltrain improvements after CalMod 1.0, I think 2nd bathroom is needed on 8-car trains unless Caltrain can build or reactivate public bathrooms at stations. On the note of future platform length, should Caltrain extend its platforms to 800 feet to match the current CHSRA standard? This would allow a 9th car to be added perhaps as a bike car, so to avoid some trade-off between seat-numbers and bike spaces.

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    1. with money from SB-1, RM 3, and C&T coming soon, this CalMod 2.0 improvements might become reality sooner than expected.

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    2. I was mulling a post on this subject, but it is frustrating to write. The midline overtake is being carried as a straw man alternative. (1) it is being over-designed with brutalist concrete viaducts to elicit maximum community opposition, and (2) it isn't actually used for any overtaking at all in their proposed operating plan. It's an alternative for the sake of being able to say they proposed a good-faith alternative other than simply shoving Caltrain into sidings, which is now their obvious plan.

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    3. @Clem I'd love to see that post, even without ideas for what should be done!

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    4. @Clem, I'd like to see what's your take on CHSRA's latest SF-SJ plan as well.

      Obviously OT, but my take on the long and high viaduct above existing grade-separations is that CHSRA trying to avoid changes to local roads, and from satellite photos in Google Map, avoid taking parking lots that have since built to be next to the tracks. I wonder what people would prefer, tall viaduct that allows space underneath to be used for other purpose, or the current berm.

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    5. As a San Carlan I can say that I'm pretty sure people prefer what they've already got, namely the current berm. Widening that berm is a trivial impact compared to building a giant stilt-a-rail up in the sky to "preserve" the historic San Carlos depot building. Reminds me of the Vietnam-era phrase "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." The very idea of this viaduct is a joke.

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    6. The oft-quoted line which you want to attribute to McNamara or Schwarzkopf but probably came from someone way lower on the chain of command could apply to so many "infrastructure" megaprojects. Say. as in the whole idea of how a real estate exploitation scheme, i.e. sprawl, has anything to do(that isn't negative)with anti-global warming. I am bluntly talking about CAHSR to Palmdale.

      I realize that remark is somewhat OT but my motivation for posting is even more OT. Is Cruikshank's HSR blog shut down for good? It says comments closed.

      -synonymouse

      -synonymouse

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    7. Good to hear from you. I'm not sure what's going on at Robert's blog...

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  2. There are now a lot of prefab station platforms that could make level boarding and/ or extensions very affordable.

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  3. Such as https://www.heringinternational.com/en/products-services/railways-stations/system-platforms-modular/modula-light/

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  4. Looking at satellite photos of 4th and King, it looks like a little yellow paint is all that is needed to extend 10 of the 12 platforms to ~700ft. Once EMUs arrive, 7-car diesel bullets would seem to be a first step to improving overcrowding as most of the currently overcrowded trains are bullets and there should be enough bombardier cars available. Only 22nd St. of the current bullet stations is too short for this. After that, 8-car EMUs are definitely the next step, but I agree another bathroom is probably needed in that case, and the bike lobby will probably insist on another bike car, so the seating capacity may be lower than it could be. Very interested to see what the service pattern is once electrification arrives. Hope there's at least 2 trains/hour peak from all stations (except Atherton/Broadway/College Park), which would really help with parking lot utilization and increase ridership a lot.

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    1. Looks like you noticed the same thing I did! Check out the track layout, though - the top three platforms would have to be for shorter trains, due to the layout of the tracks themselves. Track 2 merges into Track 3 before the end of platform 3.

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    2. Sure, or could just change track 3 to merge with track 2/1 instead of 4.

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  5. I'm curious about the SF platform extensions: It seems like most of the platforms are well longer than the trains already. Would "extending" the platforms just require moving the "No passengers beyond this point" signs down the platforms a bit? From my Google Maps measurements, the three Northern-most platforms could be reserved for diesel use in the short term, with the 8-car EMUs serving the rest of the platforms.

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  6. Interesting idea, but does it make any sense to upgrade platforms twice in a decade? When Caltrain is changing platforms, doesn't it make sense to do the construction and disrupt riders experience once?

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    1. I think it makes a lot of sense for two reasons:

      (1) as long as there are Bombardier cars on the property (for probably another 10 years or so), platforms will have to stay at 8 inches above rail. Do we want capacity constrained for that long by short platforms?

      (2) Most importantly, it's "only" $25 million. Remember, we're contemplating only about 3500 linear feet of platform extensions, compared to 5 linear miles poured in the last 18 years while nobody was looking too closely. At the average decadal rate of Caltrain platform construction that's 2.5 years' worth of work. This is a project that Caltrain, their consultants, and the coterie of construction company friends can do in their sleep.

      Just do it, the short-term capacity increase is well worth it.

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    2. Having distilled the thought some more:

      A) Platform extensions are needed before 8-car EMUs can operate
      B) 8-car EMUs are needed before Bombardiers are retired (to provide needed capacity)
      C) Bombardiers must retire before platforms can be raised (since Bombardiers cannot serve a mix of 8" and level boarding platforms due to their fixed step arrangement)

      Therefore, by transitivity, platform extensions are needed before platforms can be raised, at least at the high-ridership stations.

      At lower ridership stations you could raise platforms sooner provided they are served exclusively by EMUs. The only hitch in that plan is you need to open the high doors sooner.

      And yes, the only way to do this is with the high doors. The EMUs are no more compatible with 25" (ish) platforms than are the Bombardiers, again because of fixed step arrangements that are not workable during the transition period from one height to another. Unless Caltrain's plan involves any unicorns that I'm not aware of.

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    3. Would it have made sense to order the EMUs as 4 car sets as Toronto seems to be proposing, that can then be weakened for off-hours?

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    4. That would indeed make a lot of sense for running frequent off-peak service, especially if they can find an agreement with the UTU to run such trains with just one conductor. At rush hour these short trains can get doubled up into 8-car trains.

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    5. Electricity is cheap. Taking trains apart in the morning and putting them back together in the afternoon isn't.

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    6. I suspect the wear and tear of the vehicle miles will cost far more than using the fully automatic couplers (no ground personnel required) a few times a day.

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    7. Then why aren't operators all over the world doing it?

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    8. This (strengthen/weaken multi-EMU trains) is done all the time everywhere in the world. Usually, it is done at end points or where the direction changes. And for that, no conductor is needed; the automatic couplers can be remote-controlled from the cab (for uncoupling), and for coupling, it is, just that, coupling. Brake tests etc. are software-supported.

      In many places, the unit uncoupled after the morning rush hour will transfer to the maintenance center for small maintenance, cleaning etc., something which otherwise would have to happen during the night.

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    9. Rarely and on low frequency branches. Caltrain doesn't have any branches.

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    10. How difficult to get agreement from UTU to run trains with just one conductor?
      If Caltrain increase service and increase employment, they should not deny.

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    11. @Adirondacker, can you be more specific about the cost and hassle associated with this operation?

      @Anon: anything involving UTU minimum staffing rules is likely to be difficult.

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    12. Running trains less frequently in off-peak time also reduces wear-and-tear.

      I would also argue that a good portion of off-peak travelers are leisurely riders with their travel planned and thus not as time sensitive, so trains every 20 or 30 minutes would be good enough during off-peak.

      Most of the world railway's strengthening/weakening examples are to serve different branches and/or less ridership "tails". If compatible DEMU is procured for Gilroy or Dumbarton lines then it would make more sense to join them at San Jose or Redwood City to avoid taking mainline capacity.

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    13. The off-peak traveller also faces less congested roads and more dispersed destinations, so that extra waiting time is more relatively costly to them.

      I'd like to think that that a corridor that could support more than 100,000 daily riders could support show-up-and-go headways off peak, but then again I've moved off to the land where twelve minute headways are intolerably long

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    14. Caltrain run through neighbors same or higher population density than BART/VTA light rail but much less frequent. TAX payer expect Caltrain to have same level of frequency as BART/VTA.
      Long train consist and two conductor require very high level of ridership to justify.

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  7. No need to extend all the station to 700 feet. Run local train with 4-car consist and those Low ridership station don't have to spend money to platform extension. Instead, spend more money to those station have ridership where makes money for Caltrain.

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    1. I don't think it would work well that way: the low-ridership stations primarily generate trips to high-ridership stations (not so much to other low-ridership stations) which means that all peak trains will serve all high-ridership stations, as they do today. Try doing that with a 4-car consist and it will fill up beyond its capacity. At peak hours all consists need to be long, therefore all platforms need to be long, unless you stop only half of the long train at the short platforms. That can get complicated for passengers who need to get off at a low-ridership station, who need to position themselves in the correct part of the train. Some northeastern railroads do this, and I think it's preferable to running trains that are too short.

      Better just spend the $25 million, it's just not that big an expense.

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    2. This happens on Caltrain too- northbound passengers on the furthest north car have to move to a different one to exit at 22nd Street.

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    3. Better just spend the $25 million, it's just not that big an expense.

      Highly doubtful it is only $25 million. This is Caltrain we are talking about.

      There is a lot more to extending platforms that simply pouring some concrete. Platforms are often space constrained by intersections, ped undercrossings, utilities, drainage, parking lots, etc. I'm not seeing much cost/benefit here, especially if the platforms are going to be completely rebuilt (raised) anyway.

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    4. My figure of $7000 per linear foot of platform is loosely based on actual Caltrain costs (including all the cost factors you mention). For example, the Palo Alto projects in 2009 cost $35M including all-new platforms at University Ave and California Ave, and a new underpass at Cal Ave. I estimate $10M for each pair of platforms and $15M for the underpass. Burlingame in 2008 was $20M including track reconfiguration and several new grade crossings.

      I'm not that far off, and certainly not by a factor of two! I'll give you some inflation to 2020, perhaps, and we're at about $10k/foot or $35M total.

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    5. In 2014 staff spit-balled it as $1-2 million per station, depending on the difficulty. They counted 12 "difficult" modifications plus 6 less complicated ones, so figure ~$30 million in year 2014 dollars. Note their "analysis" assumed no ROW modifications, which seems unrealistic. Given historical precedent for most other Caltrain endeavors, the actual cost would be much higher. And then you have to consider the time factor and limited staffing, so it will push out the delivery of much needed level-platform work by "X" number of years (where X=time spent on platform extensions).

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    6. I understand your skepticism. As I mentioned above, I don't think there's any way for level boarding construction to start before the Bombardiers are gone, so X is at least 10 years...

      If my reasoning is flawed, I would be curious for your thoughts.

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    7. It would probably cost less money if cheaper and shorter life materials are used for the platform extension, such as real or composite wood. Even old railroad ties might be good enough...

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    8. Clem, didn't you suggest previously that level boarding construction could be implemented by filling the tracks-areas with ballast that could then be removed to lower tracks down to the proper level?

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    9. The suggestion was a bit half-baked. Apparently, excessively thick ballast is not stable and requires frequent track maintenance. The trick does not circumvent the challenges of the height transition.

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    10. I suspect deep ballast is plenty stable enough when hemmed in on both sides by retaining walls.

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    11. @Clem: Would it not be possible to still use Bombardiers during level boarding? Lengthen all platforms, use 8-car EMUS for limited services and Bombardiers for locals, and raise the platforms at the limited stop stations. The Bombardiers can be phased out and once they are all stations can have their platforms raised. The only potential drawback is that when limited trains have mechanical problems, etc. they can't be replaced with Bombardiers. That being said I wouldn't think this would be a major issue.

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    12. You generally don't want diesels in local service, due to horrifically bad acceleration performance. Today Caltrain locals average 19 mph.

      The opposite might work: raise platforms at local stations first, use Bombardiers exclusively for peak express service, and use EMUs for everything else. Once Bombs are gone, raise platforms at express stops.

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  8. Express train carried bulk of Caltrain ridership.

    Local train from San Jose to SF need by-passed by express train multiple times. There are by-pass track at Lawrence, Redwood Junction, Milbrae and Bayshore.
    Local train accept riders from Lawrence~Calfornia Ave and fill the capacity before Palo Alto. Majority of rider exit or change to following express train at Palo Alto. (Train become empty)
    Rider from Menlo park~Broadway fill the capacity again but majority of rider exit at Milbrae to change to BART or express train which arrive SF faster.

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  9. All this for about 1/2 the contingency on Calmod 1!

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  10. Replies
    1. That gets rid of half the interoperability problem: CBO$$ equipment no longer needs to be certified to work in ETMS territory. However, ETMS equipment still needs to be demonstrated to work in CBO$$ territory to enable freight service to continue on the peninsula. Costs continue to grow out of control!

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  11. Federal HSR safety rules delayed amid Trump deregulation order

    "Federal safety standards for high-speed rail have been delayed as the Federal Railroad Administration determines how to release new rules while adhering to President Donald Trump’s order that agencies eliminate two regulations for every one they issue.

    "The FRA’s chief safety officer, Robert Lauby, said his agency’s regulations are “complete or ready to be issued,” but regulators need guidance on how to proceed under the new White House. The FRA does not have an appointed administrator or deputy administrator in place.

    "The proposed high-speed rail rules released in November would create a new tier of safety standards that allow passenger rail service at speeds up to 220 mph along lines shared with commuter and other rail. Currently, Amtrak’s Acela is the fastest train operating on lines shared with slower trains; it is approved to travel up to 150 mph, but does so on just a small segment of track.

    "Until there is a clear understanding across the industry about what’s allowable, there’s going to be uncertainty about how to proceed,” Caltrain Chief Communications Officer Seamus Murphy told Bloomberg BNA."

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  12. Fast and cheap: Extending Caltrain to Transbay Terminal … this year

    Summary: quickly, cheaply extend Caltrain via shared King & Embarcadero Muni tracks to a new on-street Howard St. terminal adjacent to the Transbay Terminal. Agencies can work out the signal, power, clearance, track & platform (and regulatory?) issues in jiffy and get it running in good time for the TTT opening.

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    1. Is this a serious proposal?

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    2. This is cost effective and very reasonable idea but very difficult to archive in US.
      One option is Caltrain to buy single level EMU with dual voltage. In Europe, there is Light rail run into mainline. Such single level EMU have lower capacity, need to run more frequently to carry the ridership volume (=good for rider). This option will not cause any "mechanical" issues.
      Another option is eliminate Mini operation. After open central subway, all the T-line go into central subway. The section of 4th King to Ferry building to become Caltrain extension with alignment adjustment to fit Steadler EMU.

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    3. If Caltain have light weight dual voltage EMU, it can provide direct service between Caltrain to VTA light rail. San Francisco to Levis studium or Palo Alto to Winchester/VTA. If they connecting track, Caltrain can extend to Santa Teresa/VTA.

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    4. How about Muni extension into Caltrain right of way? Build full 4-track between San Francisco to Milbrae. (Building 4-track in this area is relatively easy) All the middle station; 22nd, Bayshore, SSF and San Bruno served by Muni and connect Caltrain at Milbrae. This is significant traveling time reduction for Caltrain's core market (south of Milbrae) as all caltrain become express after Milbrae.

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    5. I think all of these ideas are detached from the technical, regulatory and political realities that Caltrain must conform to... besides, the technology choices have already been made and the contracts signed. Metal is being cut!

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    6. Regulatory and political realities are most challenging for this idea. So, there are many cases in Europe.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karlsruhe_Stadtbahn
      In realty, I don't think Caltrain can make this idea. Regulation and Politics are so strong.

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  13. LIRR's East Side Access [to Grand Central Station] makes TTT Phase 2 tunneling look relatively cheap and easy:

    13 years behind schedule LIRR tunnel project leaves riders in lurch

    "Once finished, the new Long Island Rail Road terminal at Grand Central will be as big as five city blocks and reach 14 stories deep.

    "It will handle an estimated 160,000 passengers daily, about half of the railroad's projected riders.

    "The terminal under Grand Central will have four platforms serving eight tracks over two levels. A retail and dining concourse also is being built. A seven-mile network of new tunnels is being constructed at an estimated cost of $10.2 billion — more than double what was originally planned."

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  14. Judge rules CARB can let CA HSR use Greenhouse Gas Funding

    The lawsuit by [David Schonbrunn, aka "TRANSDEF"] based in San Rafael contended that the California Air Resources Board underplayed the bullet train’s harmful environmental effects and exaggerated its environmental benefits. The board relied on the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s environmental analysis and failed to account for the tons of cement to be used in construction, the lawsuit argued.

    The Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund’s president, David Schonbrunn, said the group hadn’t decided whether to appeal.

    The state has argued that the bullet train will reduce emissions by taking vehicles off state roads.

    Schonbrunn countered that the project’s early emissions could ultimately cause more harm than any benefit it might one day bring, if the earlier pollution pushes the earth’s climate past its “tipping point.”

    “There will come a time when it doesn’t matter if emissions are reduced, because it will then be too late to do anything about it,” Schonbrunn said.

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    1. But everything would be just peachy if HSR used Schonbrunn's pet rock alignment? What was it called, SETEC?

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    2. Funny you should mention that, since the Pacheco alignment has now metastasized into a 13.5 mile tunnel... the SETEC alignment looks better with each passing day.

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    3. But what's to say that the SETEC alignment wouldn't also fall prey to that level of scope/budget creep.

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    4. The biggest problem I had with the SETEC alignment was that it used French norms for construction cost, including for a substantial bridge across Dumbarton, which we all know don't really apply to the US, for various reasons. It was still far superior to any of the Altamont alignments proposed by CHSRA.

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    5. The biggest problem with any alignment is that no one is proposing to build any of them.

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    6. Oh, no, that's not nearly the biggest problem. By far the biggest problem with any alignment is that there isn't enough money to build it.

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  15. Panoche looks even better :-)

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    1. Yes, where better = increased network route miles across an even more remote unpopulated area/corridor with an even longer dogleg between Sacramento & Bay Area while doing absolutely nothing for the ever-more jam-packed-7-days-a-week I-580 Altamont Pass corridor.

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    2. "even longer dogleg between Sacramento & Bay Area". You can't be serious(?)

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    3. Of course I'm serious. Are you? It's patently obvious without even checking the mileage.

      Sacramento via Altamont to SJ Diridon is about 123 miles (150 miles to SF)
      It's about 230 miles via Merced & Pacheco to SJ (280 miles to SF)

      So compared to Altamont, Pacheco adds about 100 miles to SJ-Sac, and about 130 miles to SF-Sac.

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    4. I realize that Altamont is mesmerizing but there are other ways to get from the Bay Area to Sacramento. Which are even shorter.

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    5. Yes, but demonstrably better? If so, don't hold back ... details please!

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    6. Prepare to throw shade on the abysmally slow Capitol Corridor, which would need billions to become time-competitive with Altamont HSR for any Bay Area - Sac trip!

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    7. Adirondacker1280021 June, 2017 11:04

      The biggest problem with any alignment is that no one is proposing to build any of them.

      Trains that actually run are much faster than trains nobody is building.

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    8. By that metric the Altamont Commuter Express is indeed setting speed records.

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    9. http://www.greencaltrain.com/2017/06/aceforward-community-meetings/

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  16. The UTU won't agree with reducing staffing reductions because nobody wants to be working alone on a train having to fend for themselves against an unruly passenger. Would you? Remember the Bart flash mob mugging? The UTU will undoubtably bring this up during their contract negotiations.

    As a union worker myself, I would never want to sacrifice workplace safety even if it meant more work for me and my coworkers. Operating more frequent trains means more security exposure and which will cost more to mitigate. Having only 1 train conductor when there's no Caltrain police force and only sporadic local law enforcement is a recipe for a disaster.

    According to Caltrain, there were 1,491 calls for police service in 2017 alone, dwarfing the 793 calls during all of 2016. Expanding service will presumably need a coresponding increase in the costs of security.

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    1. Onboard staff is not trained or equipped for law enforcement, and apart from summoning police, would not and should not be expected to have anything to do with intervening in violent crimes such the referenced "BART flash mob mugging." So that's a non sequitur.

      If you check the breakdown, you'll find that like with BART police, onboard incidents constitute only a small fraction of calls for service. By far, most are outside the trains at stations, parking lots and along the right of way.

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    2. So, what would the choice for the UTU be if one conductor, or no conductor at all.

      Keep in mind that the civilized world essentially operates without conductors…

      And, as Reality Check states, a railroad police force is needed anyways.

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    3. Perhaps the counter argument could be made that the engineer, no longer being sequestered on the other side of a locomotive, could provide backup in extreme cases where the personal safety of the conductor becomes of greater importance than continued operation of the train.

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    4. Nah, if you're up against someone who is violent, or threatening violence, particularly if armed or large and strong, drawing the engineer out of the (presumably locked cab) is wrong on many levels. S/he would best remain in the locked cab and concentrate on bringing the train to a police-accessible location (typically the next station) as quickly as possible while radioing for urgent police assistance from the local police, who can nearly always get to the train faster than the Caltrain-Samtrans "Transit Police" (a special, and small, division of the SMCo. Sheriff's Department). Meanwhile, the conductor should be doing their best to de-escalate/deflect while avoiding physically engaging the suspect(s).

      Anytime there's a threat of violence or brandishing of fists or weapons, it's not going to be a good or easy situation until police can intervene regardless of whether there are one, two or three conductors. As recent real-world examples show, shit happens and you just do the best you can to avoid it and deal with it prudently when it does. Needlessly overstaffing trains with costly conductors "just in case" it might just help win an extremely rare (and probably avoidable and ill-advised) wrestling match is just not a good answer in terms of its larger operational opportunity costs.

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    5. Right. And without one-conductor operations on 4-car EMUs, my point is that you can basically forget the idea of frequent off-peak service!

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  17. Breaking news: SB797 authorizes Caltrain to ask voters for a permanent 3-county 1/8-cent sales tax

    "Caltrain, which runs from San Francisco to Gilroy, is the only passenger rail service in the U.S. that relies on voluntary contributions from the transportation agencies that formed a partnership to operate the service. The partners that make up the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board are the City and County of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Mateo County Transit District and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

    "SB 797 lays the foundation to end fluctuating voluntary contributions by authorizing the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to seek a perpetual one-eighth-cent sales tax. Several conditions would have to be met before such a measure is put on the ballot in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties."

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    1. Best of luck passing this in Santa Clara County!!!

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    2. Not that it will be easy ... but it doesn't have to win 2/3 approval in all 3 of the counties. According to the current SB 797 text, it just has to meet with approval of 2/3 of all voters voting on it:

      "The measure shall be approved if two-thirds of all of the voters voting on the measure approve it."

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