03 May 2018

Fleet of the Future


Not bad in blue, huh? This parody of the fragmented state of Bay Area transit is based on an image by Stadler Rail. There should be plenty in this image to offend almost everyone!

63 comments:

  1. I dunno… I think it would be entirely reasonable to re*brand* Caltrain as a BART line (along with integrating schedules, fares, and maps). BART is a good choice for a unified bay area regional rail brand. The public perception of BART is of a regional rail service with show-up-and-go frequencies and decent coordination between its different lines.

    (I'm not saying Caltrain should be *run* by BART, necessarily.)

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    1. a regional rail service with show-up-and-go frequencies and decent coordination between its different lines

      What an irresistible idea!

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  2. Offend? Not at all. There's a big idea at work here.

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  3. White and blue looks so much better than black and red.
    Why would anyone be offended?

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  4. I assume the "offensive" things are the branding, the "gilroy express" electrified and the low-level boarding?

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  5. Seems totally legit. What's to take offense at?

    No passengers on the platform, because they waited 60 years for level boarding and electrified service and are long dead. No problem there.

    Palo Alto only two tracks, because all skip-stop service all the time (except off-peak and weekends, when it's all-local service with 90 minute headways) so no need for confusing overtakes or un-American schedule adherence.

    Platform height at an odd level that seems to lie between both (both, count 'em, two!) heights of doors on the pretty blue EMUs, meaning Caltain started with asphalt spread over ballast, then rebuilt everything to the wrong height of 8 inches over 25 years, next picked a new height incompatible with its "new" fleet (30 years old and past end-of-life at the time this photo depicts) and rebuilt its stations to that depicted height, and is now seeking further funding to re-re-re-build platforms to 48 inch high-high height for Future Compatibility with California High Speed Rail, which might start construction northwards from Bakersfield in "just a few more years".

    The blue and white color and the new logo is nice: Caltrain and MTC spent $58 million on a rebranding consultancy strategic visioning exercise to arrive at just the out-of-the-box blue-sky secret sauce intersectionality of "rapid" and "forward-thinking" and "Silicon Valley entrepreneurship" and "environmental for the ladies while strong enough for alpha male industry titans" while paying homage to traditional regional cultures.

    And most important of all the proud American flag on the train proclaims "Mission Accomplished" and "Heckuva Job" and also "you paid three times as much for this train as anybody else, the 'domestic' factory that it came from was subsidized by huge tax breaks and went out of business immediately anyway, the train has no seats, carries three conductors and two engineers, and costs six times as much per hour to operate as anybody else's does, and will be fully compatible with UPRR PTC at some date T.B.A."

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    1. Right you are, the platform height was just a bit off. All fixed.

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    2. A nice rendering, indeed.

      One thing which kind of surprises me, is that there are no accessibility regulations concerning painting doors in contrast to the rest of the carbody, which would allow people with very bad eyesight to locate the doors without additional help.

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    3. It is surprising, considering that U.S. accessibility regulations (ADA) are among the most draconian in the world.

      I think the bigger issue will be situational awareness about which set of doors will open for passengers inside the train. That's why I previously suggested that the interior of the doors be painted different colors (blue and yellow, for optimal color-blind accessibility) so that passengers could be quickly oriented by screens and audio announcements about which doors would open. I hope they think about this small but important detail.

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    4. nitpick: there should be spacing between platform and the carbody the width of the folding gap filler.

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  6. The only thing missing from this picture is the "Solutions that congest you" (TM) logo.

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  7. Reposting to correct thread:

    "I have been disappointed to discover how many contractor companies are interwoven throughout Caltrain. Often, it is like a Russian nesting doll of contractor, subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, etc. before you finally find someone doing actual work. This means a lot of middle-managers adding cost but not doing anything obviously useful. Also, many contracts are essentially open time & materials, not fixed price and duration, which creates an incentive to turn molehills into mountains, as they never want to end the money train.

    There is a very wide range of contractor performance, from excellent to worse than a drunken sloth. All contracting companies should consider the coming week to be a final opportunity to demonstrate excellence. Any that fail to meet the Tesla standard of excellence will have their contracts ended on Monday."

    https://electrek.co/2018/04/17/tesla-model-3-production-goal-6000-units-per-week/

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    1. "If, in order to get something done between depts, an individual contributor has to talk to their manager, who talks to a director, who talks to a VP, who talks to another VP, who talks to a director, who talks to a manager, who talks to someone doing the actual work, then super dumb things will happen." (CBOSS anyone?)

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    2. What is the suggestion here, that government agencies expending government funding (and contending with the numerous strings attached to such funding to prevent waste, fraud & abuse; promote unions; create more jobs; scrupulously protect the environment; benefit small and disadvantaged businesses; make things in the U.S.A; comply with miscellaneous thick tomes of procurement regulations) might benefit from adopting the ruthless corner cutting behaviors of the private sector? That sounds great, but this piddly little Caltrain project isn't exactly the mountain you want to die on if your goal is to dismantle the United States Transit Industrial Complex.

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    3. Carshell fabrication continues at the Stadler Altenrhein facility, a renown factory that makes things in the USA, promotes unions, creates more jobs, scrupulously protects the environment and benefits small and disadvantaged businesses. http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/2018/2018-05-03+JPB+FINAL+MEETING+PACKET.pdf (page 116).

      There is a great picture of Stadler’s Utah Manufacturing Facility on page 213 (slide 21).
      Oh & BTW, ever wondered why "Caltrain" don't have a direct link to the PCEP Quarterly presentation?

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    4. Some things you just can’t buy in the USA, and extruded aluminum railcar shells is one of them. You should be thankful that they’re being made with Swiss experience as part of the 40% content (by value) allowed to be foreign-sourced under Buy America rules.

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    5. FWIW, if I remember correctly, it was Alusuisse Engineering which came up with the concept of welded extrusion profiles to build carbodies; the great thing there was that whatever was needed to make welding easier could be made part of the profile. Friction welding (instead of inert gas welding) came later. Their success was that they did not try to emulate construction methods used with steel, but making the best use of the properties of the material (sorry for rambling a bit, but that just reminds me of my time as material engineering student at the ETH-Z…)

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  8. Breaking developments on The Fleet Of The Future:

    "The FRA waiver request pertaining to use of upper level passenger side doors in lieu of exit windows is to go before the FRA Safety Board April 10, and no public comments have been received."

    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/2018/2018-05-03+JPB+FINAL+MEETING+PACKET.pdf (page 108)

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    1. https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FRA-2018-0003-0003

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    2. Thanks for digging up the FRA docket. In the Caltrain application there is a drawing with official counts for seats & standees, with and without high doors operational. This should satisfy even the most hawkish seat counters, although one must temper this with the knowledge that 6-car EMUs will never operate: they will all be 8 cars as of entry into service.

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    3. One should also temper this with the knowledge that 8-car EMUs will never operate with flip-up seats in front of (NOT "adjacent to") the emergency side doors on the intermediate levels.

      Paging the FRA (and the FTA)...

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    4. I think that would be a fine outcome: Caltrain would not have to overcome the outcry about “removing seats” from a public that largely doesn’t understand the benefits of level boarding. The resistance to converting the first station platforms to level boarding would be lower, and Caltrain might actually stop building 8-inch platforms a decade sooner. Away with these seats!

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    5. But, but, but, whatever happened to the pesky FTA 10% INCREASE in SEATED capacity mandate (can you spell defunding)?
      http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/Board+of+Directors/Presentations/2017/2017-02-02+PCEP+Quarterly+Update.pdf (slide 10)

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    6. With 8-car EMUs the 10% bar is easily exceeded even after removing 80 seats that block the upper doors. The capacity issue is overcome by events now that TCIRP funding allows lengthening from 6 to 8 cars before entry into service.

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    7. Kindly review the Bikes on Board spreadsheet and reconsider...

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    8. The Bikes on Board spreadsheet is a pretty good calculation, but makes certain assumptions--the most questionable of which is having a 3rd bike car, on the theory that current board policy for an 8:1 ratio of seats:bikes will be carried forward indefinitely.

      Two extra EMU cars would seat 232, (more if unpowered!) and bring an 8-car EMU to 573 + 232 - 80 = 725 seats with all doors operable.

      The operating scenario would be 4 EMU*8 + 2 Bombardier*7, so that's 725*4 + 910*2 = 4720 seats/hour/direction, or 27% over the existing baseline of 3705 seats/hour/direction.

      Even assuming a third bike car (i.e. additional Car E + Car F), seating in an EMU-8 would drop by 40 seats and the total would work out to 685*4 + 910*2 = 4560 seats/hour/direction, or 23% over baseline.

      In the future scenario where we have all EMU-8 with no 3rd bike car, 725*6 gives 17% more seats; with 3rd bike car it's down to 11%.

      I conclude that under all foreseeable scenarios involving 8-car EMUs, a violation of FTA core capacity requirements cannot occur.

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    9. Please refer to the table at the bottom left of page 4 in https://www.regulations.gov/contentStreamer?documentId=FRA-2018-0003-0001&attachmentNumber=1&contentType=pdf and explain how "Two extra EMU cars would seat 232".

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    10. Don’t be obtuse. I gave you a link to a detailed diagram where you can count each seat yourself if so inclined. Click on it and count!

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    11. How about using an official Stadler document for a change? Click on it and READ!

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    12. My diagram is in complete agreement with the "official Stadler document," although perhaps a brief lesson in remedial seat mathematics is in order.

      Please open your "official Stadler document" and READ the table at the bottom left of page 4, which states that an EMU-6 with the upper doors inoperable can seat 573. Now add another Car E (100 seats) and Car F (bike car with 92 seats), and we get to 765 seats. Next, make all doors operable by removing 80 seats, and we are left with 685 seats for an EMU-8 with 3rd bike storage space and all doors operable, exactly as I stated above.

      Next imagine that instead of containing bikes, the added car F lower deck is filled with seats. I know this is hard to wrap your mind around, but we will call it car G. We agree that car G does not appear in the "official Stadler document," and that it could plausibly exist. We can also observe that all EMU cars fit 8 seats per window bay at 32.5" seat pitch as shown. With five window bays being freed up by removing the bike storage space, we may now add 40 seats to the lower deck which brings the total capacity of car G to 92 + 40 = 132 seats with upper doors inoperable. The two cars we added to the EMU-6, Car E (100 seats) and Car G (132 seats), can together seat 232, exactly as I diagrammed. The EMU-8 without 3rd bike storage space and without upper doors operable would seat 573 + 232 = 805. If you then removed 80 seats to make all doors operable, you would be left with 725 seats exactly as I stated above.

      To recap:
      EMU-8, no 3rd bike storage space, sealed doors = 805 seats
      EMU-8, 3rd bike storage space, all operable doors = 765 seats
      EMU-8, no 3rd bike storage space, opened doors = 725 seats
      EMU-8, 3rd bike storage space, all operable doors = 685 seats
      EMU-6, sealed doors = 573 seats
      EMU-6, all operable doors = 513 seats

      End of lesson.

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    13. I do think an 8-car set needs a second bathroom though...

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    14. Agreed. Another bathroom means 15 fewer seats. Like this.

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    15. Shouldn't line 2 of the recap say "sealed doors"?

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    16. Right! Copy/paste error on my part.

      To recap:
      EMU-8, no 3rd bike storage space, sealed doors = 805 seats
      EMU-8, 3rd bike storage space, sealed doors = 765 seats
      EMU-8, no 3rd bike storage space, all operable doors = 725 seats
      EMU-8, 3rd bike storage space, all operable doors = 685 seats
      EMU-6, sealed doors = 573 seats
      EMU-6, all operable doors = 513 seats

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  9. CBOSS update (how many times do you have to fail until you are successful?): https://www.regulations.gov/contentStreamer?documentId=FRA-2010-0051-0063&attachmentNumber=1&contentType=pdf

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    1. If at first you don't succeed, try again...
      https://www.regulations.gov/contentStreamer?documentId=FRA-2010-0051-0064&attachmentNumber=1&contentType=pdf

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  10. Upcoming Meeting on the Caltrain/HSR Downtown Extension:

    Update on the Rail Alignment and Benefits* (RAB) Study
    Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2018
    Time: 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
    Location: Herbst Theater Green Room, 401 Van Ness Street

    Please join us as we summarize the findings from the Rail Alignment and Benefits (RAB) study, including a preliminary preferred alignment for Caltrain and High Speed Rail: the Pennsylvania Avenue DTX + Extended Tunnel. Community members are invited to provide input on the alignment, adjacent land use opportunities, and next steps.

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  11. Replies
    1. This idea is so misguided I can’t stand it. Speed is useless if you don’t also provide capacity, which this can’t and won’t. Wake me up when it can match the throughput of BART’s Transbay Tube.

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    2. @Clem, in the video, Musk's facile answer on capacity is that they can just "stack" more tunnels as deep as they need ... just like adding lanes to a freeway! The Muskian Kool-Aid swilling sycophants in the audience just lap it all up with cheers and applause. The dismissive easy chuckles Musk and his Boring Co. chief weave through their banter hint that it's all easy child's play and that there are no difficult or unsolved cost or feasibility or capacity/scalability or logistical or safety or any other problems with the whole tubes concept. Musk seems to enjoy drawing adulation and energy from a cult-like following of fanboys everywhere. What I don't understand, is that if he's so smart, why does he peddle and indulge such unworkable ideas? Either he's fully aware it's BS and he's a huckster stringing along the gullible, or he's really not so smart ... which is it?

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    3. Smart people often have dumb ideas... Isaac Newton argued that light was made of “particles of different bignesses and swiftnesses.” He is not remembered for this, and neither will Musk be remembered for subterranean tube networks.

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  12. In the "who didn't see this one coming" department, Newsom supports HSR as reported in the Fresno Bee: "Newsom said the high-speed rail, a controversial topic in the Central Valley, will anchor economic development in its first phase: San Joaquin Valley to the Silicon Valley.

    Newsom has long been a proponent of the project, but said he’s been a critic of the past business plans until the most recent one, which he called “honest.”

    The rail’s newest CEO, Brian Kelly, is the “right person at the right time,” to continue moving the project forward, Newsom said."

    Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article211393229.html#storylink=cpy

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  13. FYI:
    General Electric agreed to merge its railroad business with Wabtec, in a deal valued at about $11 billion. GE will receive a $2.9 billion up-front payment in cash and its shareholders will own 50.1 percent of the combined company, while Wabtec shareholders will own the rest, the companies said in a statement.
    Wabtec chief executive Raymond T. Betler will remain president and CEO of the merged company while its Chairman, Albert J. Neupaver has been re-appointed executive chairman. GE Transportation Chief Executive Rafael Santana will become president and CEO of Wabtec’s Freight Segment. The resulting company will have approximately $8 billion in revenues, the companies said.

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  14. Rail Alignment and Benefits(RAB) Study Reports are now available online.

    http://sf-planning.org/rab-citizen-working-group

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    1. They just ruined the best alignment (Mission Bay Alignment) with that stupid "kink" around AT&T Park. Pathetic

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    2. I'm partial to the Bigger than Bertha tunnel! The mission bay alignment was considered with a TBM that is bigger in diameter (60' vs 57') than Seattle's Berta TBM, and goes further (about 2 miles vs 1.7.)

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    3. What could possibly go wrong?

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    4. The Pennsylvania is better than Mission Bay Alignment since it preserves a station at 4th & King rather than relocating it even further from city center. It does have tighter turns, but cost of convenience to thousands of passengers is too high.

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    5. But is the Pennsylvania alignment all that better than the original alignment below the existing ROW? The only benefit seems to be making two grade separations (Mission Bay Drive and 16th) unnecessary. It's a benefit, yes, but at what cost? Could the existing tunnel and right-of-way that would be bypassed be put to use in some way?

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    6. Yes: storage for 8 trains in tunnels 1 & 2
      Grade sep @ 16th is not an option (20-minute gate downtime during peak).

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    7. Compared to any typical busy intersections’ red light time, 20 min. gate downtime per hour isn’t bad at all.

      Oh, that’s right, I forgot: red light time waiting for cars, bikes and peds to pass is OK, while gate downtime waiting for trains carrying far more people to pass is not.

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  15. http://default.sfplanning.org/Citywide/railyard_blvd/RAB_TechReport_052118_DRAFT-AppendixA.pdf

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  16. Executive Summary:
    Just kill the DTX tunnel project already. Spending 6-10+ billion dollars for all of 1 mile doesn't pass the laugh test. And no worries about 4th/King having limited platform capacity.

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    1. There's probably a sizeable and underappreciated amount of ridership that currently drives because the 20-30 minute connection time between BART or AC Transit to Caltrain makes driving significantly faster despite the ridiculous Bay Bridge travel times.

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    2. It is ten billion dollars Martin. At that price, better to use that money instead to build the second BART transbay crossing (which by the way would connect BART to Caltrain at 4th/King).

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    3. 7th & King

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    4. It's a valuable project, but not for the current inflated price tag. As usual they seem to have not even considered any of the cost-effective alternatives and offered nonsense explanations for many of the cost-inflating aspects (3 track tunnel, duplicating Tunnel #1

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    5. SFCTA is pretty insistent on having 3 tracks.

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    6. Yep, and it's predicated on holding trains right before the station throat when there's a slowdown rather than at Mission Bay where it's cheap to have extra tracks.

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    7. The SMA studies in the appendices are gold!

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    8. Crunch the numbers, could you literally pay everyone of those drivers for .5 hours of their time, every day, for the rest of their careers, for that price tag?

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  17. Step 1. Eliminate the only realistic or feasible alternatives.
    Step 2. Crayons.
    Step 3. Profit!

    Repeat, forever.

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