12 November 2011

Business Plan Impressions

The CHSRA's Draft 2012 Business Plan is out.  First impressions:

Sticker Shock.  In apples-to-apples 2010 dollars, the cost has soared from $4.7 billion (2008 Business Plan) to $5.4 billion (2009 Business Plan) to a jaw-dropping $13.6 billion (2012 Business Plan).  And that's just the start.  The $13.6 billion estimate is for Option A from the Alternatives Analysis, which is the all-viaduct-and-no-tunnel option.  Community demands for trenches and tunnels will only bid up the price from there.  Toss in the San Francisco DTX tunnel and convert to YOE dollars, and the cost goes right off the charts.  Amazingly, the business plan does not actually specify how the new peninsula costs break down.  The changes in each sub-total have to be backed out from available information, as shown below from 2009 to 2012:

Until Hell Freezes Over.  Under the phased implementation plan described in the Business Plan, the peninsula rail corridor might not get improved until the late 2020's, so any hope that Caltrain had to get HSR money for capital projects, blended or not, is pretty much on hold for a long, long time.  A solid plan B will be required for Caltrain, without relying on the HSR tooth fairy.

Three Things: Concrete, Concrete, and Concrete.  The most significant cost increases, on the peninsula and statewide, are due to a breathtaking increase in the scope of concrete-pouring.  The $13.6 billion peninsula figure includes $3.9 billion for viaducts, $3.1 billion for tunnels, about $2 billion for buildings and stations, and nearly a billion for earthwork and retaining walls (the dreaded berms).  Oh, and by the way, the business plan was prepared based on cost estimates from civil engineering firms, firms that get to define the scope of the project on which they may later bid.

Atherton Real Estate is Cheap.  The feared eminent domain battles for whatever corridor expansion might be planned barely show up in the bottom line, with a mere $830 million or six percent of the peninsula budget allocated to Right of Way acquisition.

The Astronomical Cost of Accommodating Caltrain.  While the current paradigm may be that HSR would operate in the Caltrain corridor, the business plan cost numbers (and especially the must-read cost increase numbers) suggest quite the opposite, with Caltrain cast in the role of the expensive interloper.  There are surprisingly high cost numbers built into the 2012 Business Plan to build over/under/next to Caltrain even while it continues operating.  For example:
  • $2.3 billion (2010$) of additional viaduct construction expenses, "associated with staged construction, loss of efficiency, and allowance for force account and premium pay - all to account for continuous support of rail operations in the corridor."
  • $1.9 billion (2010$) for a single-track tunnel to squeeze four tracks through Millbrae between neighborhoods, planned developments, and BART, in an area where "soils are very poor"-- a tunnel that would have no reason to be built without Caltrain.  The cost of this tunnel was previously decried at $0.5 billion, but this is something else entirely: the single-track tunnel, built in the same "very poor" soils as the triple-track Millbrae BART tunnel, would cost significantly more than the entire BART to SFO extension project.
  • $0.75 billion (2010$) to build a duplicate set of tunnels along the Bayshore Cutoff into San Francisco-- multiple tunnels that would have even less reason to be built without Caltrain.
You can see the planets slowly starting to line up: in due course, somebody, somewhere is bound to point out, in the upcoming "Value Engineering" phase, that a $5+ billion premium to keep Caltrain operating is far more expensive than simply extending BART down the peninsula from Millbrae to Santa Clara to ring the Bay.

That a peninsula BART extension would be suggested as a cost-saving measure is flabbergasting indeed, but this Business Plan fairly well guarantees it.


  1. I still think because of the cost to have Caltrain and freight running on the peninsula during construction, they should just stop Caltrain for a few years, build out a mostly two track, with four tracks where necessary, system in which all grade crossing are eliminated. Open it up as a nice new shiny service ALL using the same platforms and shaving off a few billion for everything.

  2. Less property taken during construction and no shoo-fly(s) since the corridor will be inactive

  3. All using the same platorms?
    You mean at the same platfom height?!?

    No wonder Clem hasn't responded; he my have had heart failure

  4. A thorough reading of this blog supports Alon Levy’s June 2011 comment:
    “Ask Clem Tillier or Systemic Failure’s Drunk Engineer how to do it and they’ll propose modernizing the regulations, minimizing community impact through smart engineering to reduce NIMBYism, and making sure to build the most cost-effective projects in order to appeal to fiscal conservatives.”
    Cost-effective peninsula rail transit development has been the much appreciated main theme throughout the life of this discussion group. The detailed well written introductions and assembling data relevant to many important design aspects introduced so far have been essential for developing a value engineering approach. The ideas presented on keeping slow traffic in the middle, use of a common platform height, and straightening some curves are particularly enlightening.
    But there are several significant design aspects that are either not considered in sufficient detail and /or are inimical to the design goals stated above. For example part of the present peninsula CHSR electrification scheme includes a 23’6” overhead train clearance requirement in order to accommodate the 25 KVAC rail electrification the CHSR Authority appears to be settling on. This high clearance requirement is a major cost driver, NIMBY activation catalyst, and optimal route inhibiter. The practical limits of rail electrification modes will now be addressed.
    Optimal electrification design forms are driven by the fact that maximum transformer energy extraction rates are in proportion to the 4th power any linear transformer dimension while the weight of any object increases in proportion the cube of any linear dimension. Therefore one can reduce weight and therefore the investment in substation transformers by incorporating maximum practical power level nodes for reducing grid voltages to the 1,000 voltage needed for traction power. Greater distances between substations raises the power magnitude at grid connection points, the substations, but the total system substation weight declines at the cost of greater line-side conductor losses. The rail electrification systems in place today with 1,000 volt line-side conductors use 400 square millimeter copper equivalent cross sections supplied with substations 8 miles apart; 25,000 VAC line-side conductors have 150 square millimeter cross sections supplied by substations 35 miles apart.
    Rolling stock picking up 25,000 VAC must change this power to 1,000 VDC with an on-board transformer. The extra cost incurred due to accommodating 25 KVA rail electrification distribution is usually quite low where rural areas are traversed. The design of high overhead clearance grade separations needed are usually unconstrained and infrequent. Also the large clearances from adjacent to or under fixed objects useful for keeping fast train aerodynamic resistance power losses moderate can easily be arranged with surface or elevated alignments without disrupting adjacent road networks. Transformers needed to reduce line-side 25,000 VAC to the traction motor driver potential of 1,000 VDC are usually carried on one or two locomotives in order to supply the heavy power loads long fast running trains consume. Five minute headways between 220 mph trains leave an 18 mile gap between trains. Therefore a 1,000 VDC lines-side distribution system even during minimum headway conditions allow substation duty cycles to remain below 50% − an inefficient use of an expensive infrastructure item. Therefore the most efficient rail electrification approach for power distribution to high speed trains while traveling at high speed through rural areas is a 25,000 VAC distribution system.

  5. Rail electrification requirements and constraints through urban sections, from San Jose to San Francisco for example, for 100 mph transit and high speed rail rolling stock, are far more evenly distributed along the line. Also the grade separation capital costs incurred while accommodating 25,000 VAC line-side distribution systems are far higher. During peak traffic periods relatively short frequent regional trains averaging 60 mph will have 4 mile average gaps between each other. With 40% reverse commuting ridership and long peak periods due to flexible working hours taking both traffic directions into account the average minimum gap between regional trains would approach 2 miles. For CHSR trains with few stops most of their power consumption will occur while running at a constant 100 mph. But sustaining that speed requires only 21% of the traction energy per car as a 20 kw/metric ton car during a power-limited acceleration phase. Therefore even a HSR train two or three as long as a regional train would consume about half the power while sustaining 100 mph as an accelerating Caltrain run.
    If the distribution system transformers shifting 25,000 VAC to 1,000 VDC traction voltages were in high capacity line-side substations instead of one for each EMU regional car total system transformer total weight would decline 50% for 1,000 volt output transformers if each of these line-side transformers supplied 16 EMU’s and by 67% if there is enough substation power handling capacity to supply 87 EMU’s. In addition each EMU supplied by 1,000 VDC power would not need a 2.05 metric ton transformer for every car. (Caltrain is considering permanently linking EMU’s in groups of four with one car in each group carrying a 5.81 metric ton transformer. This approach will reduce the total mobile transformer weight by 29% but increase the weight of the transformer carrying car by 16%. (Competitive regional service quality requires constant predictable service patterns throughout the day and evening in spite of a highly variable demand curve. The ability to efficiently run constant headways for every run type in spite of a highly variable demand curve requires closely matching train length and power to current demand one car at a time with independent EMU’s. The efficiency of closely matching train length with passenger volume would be lost if EMU’s were permanently connected in groups of four.)
    Currently the most useful segment for the present CHSR planned initial route is the San Francisco−San Jose rail connection. Three billion dollars of federal stimulus hsr funds were almost certainly deflected to the Central Valley by the determined legal opposition from some residents of Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto. That opposition can be traced to landscape art principles articulated by Frederick Law Olmstead. “The most salient feature of Olmstead’s 1858 New York Central Park landscape design was to place cross streets in open cuts. The premise of his Central Park scheme was that its landscape design should express an overarching aesthetic motive that would give shape and coherence to the viewer’s experience. Olmstead envisioned the future Central Park as a “unified work of landscape art”.
    What is the likely reaction from Peninsula residents many of whom are fully aware and approve of Olmsted’s ideas on sensible landscape architecture and who paid-up for a relatively quiet aesthetically pleasing landscape featuring many large trees, lawns, and public libraries when a 124 mph railway with an attendant 40 foot above grade structure through the center of town is proposed? In order to minimize damage to HVAC distribution lines and substantial risk to those clearing debris any tree near the electrified railway will be cut down. The wonder is not that opposition has developed; the wonder is why effective opposition took so long to materialize.

  6. At first glance the current strength of Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto resident’s opposition to grade separation grade separation construction and electrification is surprising after voters from these same towns strongly supported the 2008 CHSR initiative. But this dispute is tragic because the very nature of a competently designed grade separated electrified multiple track passenger rail system will produce far lower noise levels, vibration, and visual blight than any other reasonably fast high capacity transportation alternative.
    (Note: Noise is an issue even for BART’s 80 mph system speed limit. From VTA’s BART to San Jose extension notice:
    “The Residential Noise Insulation Program (RNIP) will provide noise insulation for the upper floors of residences that may experience potentially severe noise impacts from the BART Silicon Valley Extension.”)
    Given high speed rail’s rapid increase in noise generated as speeds rise above 100 mph (161kph) [Perceived rail noise and vibration tend to rise in proportion to between the square and the cube of train speed.] an early step in design analysis should be to weigh the benefits vs. costs incurred by operating at the planned 200kph (124 mph) on the SJ to SF peninsula route segment. Consider the CHSRA San Jose to San Francisco Speed-Distance Run Simulation Data published in this blog within the Straighten Some Curves post under the Things-To-Do-list. Print the landscape version of the chart. Measure the total distance where run time is reduced by running faster than 100 mph (161 kph). Simplify calculations by squaring off the 161 kph to 200 kph transition zones so that half the speed transition zone distance is run at a steady 161 kph and half is at 200kph. A close reading of this CHSR San to San Jose Francisco TBT run time simulation indicates that curves limit 200kph operation to 54km of the total 78.2km (46.6 miles) SJ to SF distance. Note that reducing the 200kph (124 mph) maximum potential speed to 161kph (100 mph) for a distance of 54.93 km the run time will increase by exactly 4.00 minutes.
    Restricting CHSR trains to 100 mph or less north of San Jose’s Tamien Station would open the possibility for 600 to 1,500 VDC third rail electrification.
    Combined with detouring San Francisco to San Jose freight trains over a revived Dumbarton Bridge and down the 101 Freeway center to the Bayshore area would assure Caltrain future level boarding potential and reduce the minimum overhead clearance requirement. According to the California Public Utilities Commission CPUC General Order No. 26-D as modified on 11/12/1963 by Resolution No. S-1040. Part A: “Clearances in Tunnels, Subways, and Tubes. Line 3: The minimum vertical clearance above the top of the lowest rail shall be not less than 12’6”. Part D: Passenger Equipment Dimensions and Equipment. line 1: The minimum vertical and side clearances authorized herein shall apply to the operation of passenger car equipment of 10’6” in width, 11’3” in height above the top of rail, and a length of 85’0” provided that if passenger cars of different dimensions are operated the side and vertical clearances shall be adjusted accordingly to provide comparable clearances.” (Note: The maximum car height above the rails for the TGV –SUD-EST train car is 11’3.12” or 3.432 m.)

  7. Speaking of heart failure (hat tip to kiwi.jonathan):

    Caltrain as "the expensive interloper"?!?!?!!!

    Someone at Caltrain HQ needs to wake up and realize they're being played. And if they're not careful, they just might get played right out of business.

    Seems to be the CHSRA is the expensive interloper here. I'm increasingly of the opinion that, for Caltrain's sake, someone needs to put the kibosh on the CHSRA.

  8. The volume of material to be removed, and close to the probable cost, from a circular tunnel is proportional to the square of it’s’ diameter. If the now projected 23.5’ CHSR vertical clearance requirement was reduced to 13’ the rail construction in a tunnel would be 3.0 times the cost of at grade construction according to the following calculation:
    (6.5−1)((13+3)/(23.5+3))^2 + 1 = 3.0 where space for track structure and plus clearance margins total a constant 3’ for any loading gauge. The 6.5 times at grade rail construction base line is from Bob Doty’s Grade Separation Methods Handbook.
    A similar open cut grade separation cost estimate would be: (3.5−1)((14+4)/(23.5+4))^2 + 1 = 2.1 times at grade rail construction costs.
    Tunneling from I280 to a San Jose Market Street Subway Station between East San Carlos and San Fernando would save 2 minutes over any CHSR Diridon Station southern access option now being considered. A below grade short-cut from 16th Street across the UC San Francisco campus to a Third and King Elevated Station next to the SF Giants Ball Park will cut 0.3 miles and eliminate two 35 mph curves thus reducing running times by another 2.00 minutes. A northbound San Jose Market Street Subway should continue as a surface and elevated alignment north of Julian Street along a route parallel to the Guadalupe Freeway Corridor to a subway station under the San Jose Airport Passenger Terminal. (Note: In spite the recent imposition of a $4 surcharge for BART to SFO a record number of riders, 6337, used this SFO connection during the July to September 2011 quarter. BART’s financial success compared to other Bay Area Transit Agencies appears to stem from direct service to points large numbers of people wish to go.)
    Most urban rail electrification, projects in the Eastern U.S. and Europe are along right-of-ways designed to accommodate huge steam engines during an era when the usual approach for minimizing air pollution was to build a tall smoke stack. Naturally these legacy right-of-ways were elevated above road crossings whenever possible. Therefore later overhead electrification efforts on these ancient right-of-ways required few clearance height increases even through urban areas.

  9. /facepalm

    There really isn't anything good to say about CHSRA or the people and companies feeding at its trough. Not to sound fatalistic, but I'm not convinced that even the ever growing danger of the project failing is enough to force the issue.

    @ John

    Maybe I'm reading your wall of text wrong, but I think you're going through some backwards logic to justify tunnels on the peninsula. Clem and others have demonstrably shown that no new tunnels are needed for CalTrain or HSR, with the obvious exception of Mission Bay to Downtown SF.

    25 kV appears to be the industry standard for new rail electrification. The only reason you would go with something else is for legacy reasons, which we don't have. I don't have hard data on this, but I suspect that 25 kV has lower capital and operating costs than third rail electrification, on both the infrastructure and rolling stock sides. Not to mention it supports significantly higher speeds than third rail will ever be able to.

    23'+ clearances do seem excessive, as double stack freight (AAR Plate H loading gauge) is unlikely to ever happen on the peninsula or anywhere in the HSR system. However 13' clearance is unnecessarily small. I believe it's smaller than mainline rail standards in the US and EU.


    Generally you build to the largest loading gauge you can reasonably afford and accommodate. This gives you future headroom to run bilevel trains (or double stack, in the case of freight). This is something the Paris RER did, but BART didn't.

  10. @Eric M if you shut down Caltrain for a few years, transit mode share in the corridor will fall to very nearly zero, and will be hard to build back up, as people will have plenty of time to adapt their travel habits to not having a Caltrain.

    @Everyone else debating electrification: 25kV is standard because it happens to be a good compromise for a multi-purpose rail network, with intercity and freight trains, and it doesn't generally make sense to install a separate system for suburban commuter trains. But most metro systems tend to use either 1500 VDC overhead or 750 VDC third rail. Metro systems also tend to have more frequent and smaller trains, compared to the bigger and less frequent trains on commuter systems, which work better with bigger and less frequent substations. And as far as 1500 VDC overhead, you should ask Sydney's CityRail how that's working out for them, especially with new air conditioned trains. My impression is that it's working rather poorly.

  11. @john: you're proposing that CAHSR build a legacy 1KV DC third-rail system, to avoid the aesthetic effects of catenary and its support infrastructure, is that right?

    I have bad news for you. Third-rail systems Just Plain Work for high-speed rail. That's why the Eurostar trains ran at a crawl from the Chunnel to London, over legacy Southern Region 750v third-rail electrification.

    For a given power level, dropping the voltage by a factor of 25 means you need to raise the *current* by a factor of 25. And you just can't *get* that much current through third-rail pickups: they arc, they melt.
    The Eurostar used one pickup shoe on each side of each bogie (truck). Each shoe was limited to 750 Amps. That limited Eurostar to about one-quarter of the power available under 25KV catenary.

    The result: much lower acceleration, longer trip times.

    The UK HS1 line, engineered for high speed and with 25KV catenary, cut London-Paris travel times from 2hr 56 min to 2 hr 15 min: 46 minutes.

    As bad as some of the CHSRA decisions are, not even they would be asinine enough to go for third rail!

    If you want to reduce the visual impact of catenary, lobby for saner standards. Say no to AAR Plate H, not to catenary per se.

  12. to avoid the aesthetic effects of catenary and its support infrastructure, is that right?

    Wouldn't want to disturb the bucolic charm with those ugly overhead wires.


  13. I think this post ignores the fact that shutting down Caltrain for the duration of constructing HSR while simultaneously replacing the Caltrain infrastructure to make way for BART is likely to be much more expensive and disruptive than accommodating Caltrain during construction. If costs can't be kept down for HSR/Caltrain integration, what makes anyone think they can be kept down for BART to replace Caltrain?

  14. The costs of replacing the "Caltrain infrastructure"?

    WHAT infrastructure?

    There's nothing that a couple weeks with a bulldozer and a few dump trucks couldn't deal with.

    Caltrain after two decades of public JPB management and "investment": truckloads amounts of money wasted, nothing substantial to show for it.

    Electrification? No. Level boarding? No. Useful overtake tracks? No. Fast turn-around terminals? No. Modern signals? No, never (CBOSS=never.) Useful (not just make-work) grade separations? None.

    Tons of steel rail that can be recycled somewhere, but the rest is scrap. Take a bow, Caltrain. Take a bow

  15. @ anon @ 13:09

    The cost of replacing Caltrain's infrastructure is a lot more than the cost of removing its current infrastructure.

    Replacement requires removal AND new construction.

    I have yet to see any analysis of how replacing Caltrain with HSR + BART would be cheaper than replacing Caltrain's current infrastructure with HSR + Caltrain.

  16. Yes kiwi.jonathan, that is what I meant. All using the same platform height, hence being able to use the same platforms no matter the station.

  17. @ Arcady,

    I belive you might loose some riders, but when a new system opens up which is even more streamlined than before, offering better transfers and much faster point A to B trips, people will flock back, given the horrendous traffic at time on the peninsula.

  18. I have yet to see any analysis of how replacing Caltrain with HSR + BART would be cheaper than replacing Caltrain's current infrastructure with HSR + Caltrain.

    What more analysis do you need?

    You've got a 5+ billion dollar premium to keep Caltrain operating during and after HSR construction. That's over and above the cost of grade-separating four tracks from Millbrae - Santa Clara, which is already baked into the HSR cost estimates. Those four tracks could just as easily (and cost-neutrally) be 2 HSR + 2 BART. The costs of rebuilding intermediate stations are also baked in, admittedly at only ~20 million a piece. A typical BART station costs closer to 50 to 75 million. Even if you build a bunch of those, you're nowhere close to that 5 billion premium.

    I reluctantly have to agree with Kevin, if they don't do something fast, Caltrain is about to get played.

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Clearly, the first thing to do is to expose the ridiculous tunnel at Millbrae as the scam it is.

  21. If accommodating Caltrain will cost $5 billion (!) then the best thing to do is to simply give all Caltrain riders free bus rides for the time it takes to rebuild the corridor. If that costs $10 per passenger per day, over 4 years it adds up to less than $500 million. $5B - $500M = $4.5B in savings. If you want to use more pessimistic figures, fine. Shutting down Caltrain still would yield billions in savings.

  22. There would be a cost for disrupting whatever UP hauls up and down the corridor, too. Feel free to throw out some numbers.

  23. I don't think Caltrain riders will "flock" back after years of not using it. After a few years, the network of transfers falls apart. The employer-sponsored shuttles go away and are forgotten, so they don't come back. The stations get demolished and rebuilt, meaning the buses probably get evicted from them, and some won't come back. Stanford stops paying for the GoPass and who knows if they'll start back up again after a few years. And people will just move or change jobs so they don't need Caltrain anymore, meaning more of the new ridership will have to come from people who assume that "go" means "drive" and need to be convinced otherwise. In my particular case, if Caltrain has a multi-year shutdown, I will just leave the Bay Area.

  24. Anon,

    Just buy off UP and get it off the corridor, as others have mentioned before.

  25. My take on the $98 YOE Billion in the 2012 Draft Business Plan was that CAHSRA was telling other agencies "this is the 'uncompromised' number", so that it can use its political support to force other agencies to "give in" more.

  26. ticoI think Clem is correct in his prediction that these numbers are setting up Caltrain to be replaced by BART. A few talking points:

    1) BART has an average stop spacing of ~3.1 miles between Lake Merrit and Fremont. Caltrain has an average stop spacing of ~1.9 miles between Millbrae and Santa Clara (not counting Stanford). BART would have to drop ~7 Caltrain stops to achieve the same stop spacing. Probable stops for elimination: Broadway, Hayward Park, Belmont, Atherton. Station locations may get tweaked as BART likes to be near shopping malls and big parking garages.

    2) Of course, the reason BART has such a high stop spacing is because they can't do express trains; if they decided to rebuild the system with passing tracks in certain locations, that might change. They might want to add a new station at 30th & Mission with passing tracks, which was the preferred option in the preliminary design study, in order to help compensate for the ~10 minute time penalty resulting from abandoning the Bayshore cutoff. I'm sure someone smarter than me could calculate the ideal locations for BART passing tracks.

    3) Closing Caltrain for a few years and then reopening it would probably reduce ridership, but BART has such a huge brand name that closing Caltrain for a few years and reopening it as BART would probably have a positive effect on ridership.

    4) The choke points of PAMPA and San Mateo, where four tracks can't easily fit, could work in a few different ways. One would be to have two HSR tracks at grade, BART station mezzanine at level -1, and two BART platforms and tracks at level -2. Roads could have grade crossings with quad gates and a HSR speed reduction, or have underpasses under the tracks, or be closed. Another option would be HSR elevated, roads and BART station mezzanine at grade, and two BART platforms and tracks at level -1. The cities in question might be expected to contribute towards solutions more expensive than a four track elevated structure; Palo Alto might look over the bay to Berkeley as a precedent for doing so.

    5) Cost 'savings' from replacing Caltrain with BART:

    - No iconic bridge south of San Jose (existing two tracks from Tamien become two HSR tracks + one FRA track)
    - No elevated HSR station in San Jose (re-use Caltrain platforms and free space at grade for two HSR platforms + two passing tracks)
    - No elevated approach north of San Jose (use existing Caltrain tracks)
    - No new platforms or tunnels at Millbrae (use existing Caltrain tracks and platforms)
    - No new HSR approach tunnels from Bayshore to 4th & King (use existing Caltrain tracks)
    - No HSR station or underground Caltrain station needed at 4th & King- sell the land for development or use as a light maintenance facility.

    Yes, I know these costs could be avoided anyway with a bit of inter-agency co-operation, but nevertheless this is how peninsula BART will be sold as a cost saving measure.

  27. - No new HSR approach tunnels from Bayshore to 4th & King (use existing Caltrain tracks)
    - No HSR station or underground Caltrain station needed at 4th & King- sell the land for development or use as a light maintenance facility.

    So all this BARTalicousness is going to go on using existing BART track? I realize this isn't perfect but the California High Speed Rail site has an HSR train making it between SFO and San Francisco in 13 minutes. If an HSR train can do it in 13 so could a Caltrain Express. Millbrae to Montgomery Street on BART's trip planner takes 32. 32-13=19. You just added 19 minutes to every trip from the Peninsula. Forever.

  28. I worked it out as a little over 10 minutes using existing timetables, but point taken.

    Caltrain Local, Millbrae to 4th & King = 28 mins
    Caltrain Baby Bullet, Millbrae to 4th & King = 18 mins
    BART, Millbrae to Powell = 29 mins

    (The Caltrain times can vary by a minute or two depending on which train you look at.)

    I'm not advocating peninsula BART, I'm just saying that if they do it they will very likely tie it into the existing tracks, as it's a helluva lot cheaper and there are no stations between Millbrae and 4th & King with significant ridership, except 22nd St. So they will need to figure out some sort of express service to mitigate the detour via Daly City. The difference in distance is about 3-4 miles, with a BART express train you could probably get the time close to the existing Baby Bullet times.

    If they do build BART along the Bayshore cutoff, they would probably want to branch off the existing BART line just north of San Bruno BART station. Why just north of San Bruno instead of just south? Because then trains using the Bayshore cut-off can head to San Jose without stopping at SFO, trains coming from Daly City can terminate at SFO (or Millbrae via SFO), and passengers from both lines can transfer at San Bruno if necessary to get where they want to go.

    Then you'd follow the (ex-Caltrain) HSR tracks to downtown, with new tunnels matching the existing Caltrain tunnels, plus new tunnels under Pennsylvania Ave and 7th Street, plus whatever alignment you choose to get downtown. A lot of expense to build a metro line through mostly industrial areas of the city. The only way I can see it happening is as a way to connect to a new Geary line or a new transbay tube, both of which are expensive projects way down BART's list of priorities.

  29. Or- connect the Bayshore cut-off to the Central Subway, reconfigured for BART trains rather than Muni trains! That would make that project a little more useful than it currently is. (Yes, I know this would never actually happen.)

  30. So let's expose the $5bn marginal cost for the scam it is. Starting with1:

    1. the absurd Millbrae tunnel
    2. The _insanely_ expensive electrification estimates

    (I'd add "nuke CBOSS from orbit", but that would only make sense if CHSRA would commit, now, to an advanced ATP system which meets the FRA's PTC requirements, so that Caltrain could deploy the same system.)

    I wonder, how much of the Millbrae excess is to save face for BART, for their poor station design (and Caltrain for giving up so much of their ROW at Millbrae); and how much is to avoid having to _deal_ with BART (aka: agency turf). Is there any way to tell?

  31. Maybe I'm naive, but this looks more like a plan for CAHSR to fold than a plan for anything to happen anywhere on the peninsula. Where on earth would all that money come from? The feds have other concerns, the state is still bankrupt, and no private investor particularly wants to rebuild Caltrain as BART.

  32. no private investor particularly wants to rebuild Caltrain as BART

    More to the point, no private investor particularly wants to rebuild Caltrain as Caltrain 2.0, which is an integral part of the current HSR plan. If you split the current HSR plan into two projects, one purely HSR and one purely BART, it makes the HSR price tag look more palatable. BART has far more political clout than Caltrain and will no doubt be able to raise funds for it's half of the project without private investment.

    Makes little sense from a technical point of view, as Caltrain 2.0 would be technically superior to BART, but that's how it will work politically.

  33. Replacing Caltrain with BART would also require grade separation of every single crossing before any trains could use the corridor again. The "blended" plan, as shitty as it is, at least doesn't require THAT.

  34. In response to Steve "Where on earth would all that money come from?" the answer is simple:

    1. San Mateo passes a transportation sales tax measure, providing $4 billion for a BART+HSR extension to Redwood City.

    2. Santa Clara county, 10-15 years from now, passes a sales tax measure providing $4 billion (2010 dollars) for a BART+HSR extension to Lawrence.

  35. San Mateo County's original Measure A was a voter-approved half-cent sales tax from 1989-2008 for countywide transportation projects and programs. It generated a grand total of $1.2 billion (including interest and rental income) to date.

    In 2004, years before the original A was to expire at the end of 2008, county voters overwhelmingly OK'd a reauthorization of Measure A to run from 2009 through 2033. According to SMCTA's latest (June 30, 2011) semi-annual report, the current measure is projected to raise nearly $1.5 billion (based on an assumption of $60 million in revenue per year).

    At $60m per year per half cent (or $120m per year per full cent), it's unclear whether San Mateo County voters would OK a 67-year (or 34-year) tax to raise $4b for BART to replace Caltrain down to San Fracisquito Creek (the SMCo/SCCo county line).

  36. Based on Livermore and SJ projects, $4 billion seems to be the current going rate for BART extensions. Counties only pay a portion, the rest coming from Federal and State funding.

    Note that Alameda county will be putting a measure on the ballot in 2012, even though their current transportation sales tax doesn't expire until 2020.

  37. DEAR know it alls ..please help us and apply for a job with Parsons. ..why have none of you have ever been hired?

  38. "why have none of you have ever been hired?"

    By Parsons? Caltrain? MTC? CHSRA? Amtrak? VTA? TJPA? HNTB? Muni?

    Choose any of the following
    (*) IQ over 80.
    (*) Not a sociopath who delights in screwing the public and rigging contracts for highest cost.
    (*) Not a Kruger Dunning basket case.

    Numerous smart people consider going into our public transportation sector—after all, the problems are obvious, the solutions are obvious, the solutions are readily available and implemented elsewhere, the solutions are of proven efficacy, and fixing the obvious stupid problems would make the world a better place, cheaply and quickly. It seems like an obvious path for an ethical human to follow.

    One guess how long smart, motivated, competent, results-oriented people last.

  39. I notice about the revised business plan that it puts off the issue of Peninsula HSR.

    The Initial Operating Segment will be either San Jose - Bakersfield or Merced - Sylmar. The first one will require a 2-hour bus ride to LA, and the second one a 2-hour bus ride to the Bay Area, both of them taking longer than the train travel time of about 1 1/2 hours.

    After that is open, the next segment to open will be the missing part of a Bay-to-Basin line: San Jose to Sylmar, and after that, the missing segments to San Francisco and Anaheim.

    So they're making a Peninsula line a low priority, built along with the others only if funding can be acquired early enough.

  40. Caltrain HQ needs to wake up and realize they're being played.

  41. BART's new general manager, Grace Crunican:

    "At some point I think you'll pick it up down in San Francisco and actually loop the Bay." She continues, "That's in the broader vision. I don't think it's a pipe dream, I think it's an excellent vision to provide a nice framework for future growth and development."


  42. Also, note that BRT is currently being perused by VTA on El Camino Real between Palo Alto and San Jose. If this BRT corridor was continued up to Millbrae by SamTrans then you'd have sufficient rapid local service to justify the elimination/consolidation of Caltrain stations when BART takes over. It's all coming together...

  43. Masonry: Yep, that's what I said a while back. Any sign of it yet? Time is running out.

    Jon: Good points. Of course, someone should point out to the BART GM that she has a lot of work to do just to keep what's already running in a state of good repair. Then there's the little matter of replacing their car fleet, not an inexpensive endeavor when all your cars have to be custom-built. (Caltrain, OTOH, can page through the MotivePower and Bombardier catalogs and say, "Yeah, we'll have X of those and Y of those, painted red and silver." One of many advantages Caltrain holds over BART even in its present form ... )

  44. “ Then there's the little matter of replacing their[BART’s] car fleet, not an inexpensive endeavor when all your cars have to be custom-built.”
    Of the many urban legends (an unauthenticated story from early times, preserved by tradition and thought to be historical) concerning rail transit this one is truly the most preposterous. BART could choose to buy a conventional below-the-floor framed transit car for a lower initial cost. Only the low-number-manufactured-per-batch-cast-steel-bogie-frames and axle lengths would need to be different than most transit cars in use today. For example BART cars’ 10’6” width requirement is no different than EMU’s used for Northeast Corridor suburban services. However BART’s broader gauge gives that agency the option to purchase a lighter car with a higher center of gravity than is usual for a transit car. Opting for skin stressed rather a below the floor frame will enable a lower car weight specification to be practical. A lighter car weight reduces power consumption, car and track maintenance costs, and adjacent structure vibration and noise. An agency choosing to forego these advantages should also consider the lower risk of overturning during a derailment, cross-wind or a seismic event.

  45. BART's existing fleet is pretty nonstandard though: their cars are wider and lower than the ones in Washington, and the power supply voltage is rather nonstandard. Most electronics on DC powered trains are designed for either 750 or 1500 volts, not the 1000 volts that BART uses. There's also the issue of track gauge, but that's probably not the biggest impediment, though it might mean a custom design of the truck and suspension, in which case it would in fact be a pretty big deal. Plus, existing BART cars have hydraulic brakes, which most subway trains do not, and allegedly they have such "features" as no trainlined control system power.

  46. The procurement and operation costs of BART cars’ unique features would approach zero when adjusting to differing line distribution voltages using flexible input voltage switching power supplies feeding control system and hotel loads. (Note: Most consumer electronic appliances distributed worldwide today have input power supplies that enable them to work with 85 to 330 volt inputs. Flexible input voltage power source capability will increase power losses within switching power supply components that will result in a minor (<3%) local system efficiency reduction during high input voltage conditions.)
    BART cars’ 10.5’ width is exactly equal to North American long distance passenger car width. This appears to be an effort to conform to passenger car shapes often produced in North America.
    A lack of a train-lined control system power supply; in other words independent control system power supplies for each car would isolate control system failure due to a power supply short to ground to one car. The location of such a failure could be quickly narrowed to one car in a train and its shut-down-in-case-of-failure controller default circuits could be locked out in order to permit a stalled train to quickly resume movement.

  47. I don't think the numbers proposed for the Peninsula are serious at this point. There's been so much nonsense from the Bay Area that everyone is saying "CV now, LA next" (in 2013 or whenever more money can be rounded up). Right now, I'd pay *far* more attention to making sure the Bakersfield-LA stuff looks reasonable. Though I realize it's off topic for this blog.


  48. BART's fleet replacement plan calls for spending $3.4B for 700 rail cars. That's almost $5M per rail car. Off the shelf EMUs cost less than half that. Even high speed trainsets don't cost this much, and they're far more advanced than anything a metro system like BART would run. BART might possibly have the most expensive passenger rolling stock in the world.