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Anonymous Poster #1

Highspeed Rail

02/01/2013 1:55 AM

are there any experts out there who know how to build high speed rail in california? people are skeptical about high speed rail and need to understand more about the building and technology.

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#1

Re: highspeed rail

02/01/2013 3:17 AM

There probably are, though high speed rail is not specific to California; it is probably no different building there than were one to build anywhere else.

  • Google "HS2", "Eurostar" and "Javelin" to read about developments in the UK.
  • Google "Shinkansen" to read about developments in Japan.
  • Google "TGV" to read about developments in France.
  • Google "ICE" to read about developments in Germany.
  • Spain is creating a high speed network, linked to the rest of Europe and using the Stephenson track gauge, not the Iberian one. Start with "RENFE" and go from there.
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#2
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Re: highspeed rail

02/01/2013 5:19 AM

Renfe... wasn't 'e ze bloke from allo allo?
Kris

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#3
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Re: highspeed rail

02/01/2013 5:30 AM

Oh dear. Go and join europium on the naughty step...

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#4

Re: highspeed rail

02/01/2013 5:57 AM

At $68 billion, CA HS rail will work just fine, there just aren't many people that have a need , (or want), to travel between northern and southern CA. It will be impressive though. Nothing but the best!

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: highspeed rail

02/01/2013 8:05 AM

Wisconsin Turn down Federal Money for High Speed Rail.

When making cuts, it was a tough decision. Looking at it on a long term basis, it was nothing more than an added shovel that added to a fiscal hole we were digging.

Sure it initially created jobs to build, but it at the time, after it was buillt, it was unsubstainable.

Interesting to see how it works in California, California manages their budget so

languorously, interesting to see how it works for them.

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#8
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Re: highspeed rail

02/01/2013 8:33 AM

CA is not known for wonderful ideas out of government.

To add insult to injury, they are running it directly through the central valley, where the agricultural industry provides the bulk of money into the state, through exports.

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#39
In reply to #4

Re: highspeed rail

02/05/2013 10:42 AM

We just received the contract to do 36 miles throw Riverside CA at 135 million. That's will keep close to a hundred workers busy for the next two years. All living in the area adding to the economy.

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#40
In reply to #39

Re: highspeed rail

02/05/2013 10:59 AM

Sounds like a win! win! outcome to me, and while under $2.5m/km and not including the rolling stock and electrification I presume, then it highlights where the economics of HSR should be targeted, namely the power delivery systems and the rolling stock.

Maybe there are some non-flying 787 cabins that can be fitted with appropriate wheels
and have a quick change big battery swap every 10km or so?

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#41
In reply to #40

Re: highspeed rail

02/05/2013 11:08 AM

Not my department. I just handle the environmental end of putting in the tracks.

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#42
In reply to #39

Re: highspeed rail

02/05/2013 8:01 PM

I'm sorry but $3.75 Million per mile doesn't sound cost effective to me.

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#43
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Re: highspeed rail

02/05/2013 8:27 PM

May I suggest that you might look at the cost per road lane mile ... and it can be typically between $2 million to substantially north of $10 million to build roads depending on difficulty, number of bridges etc .... and then double the costs for the return lane.

And if you compare the carrying density of road and rail, rail wins for both commuters and freight, with a much smaller footprint.

Yes, road options offer pickup and delivery flexibility, but not efficiency.

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#44
In reply to #42

Re: highspeed rail

02/05/2013 9:08 PM

But, you have to remember, that the work has to be done by "union workers" earning
"Davis Bacon" wages. After all, the work is being done in Kalifornia!!

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#125
In reply to #44

Re: highspeed rail

03/22/2013 5:18 AM

It's not just CA its any project that has some funding from the State or Feds. We have to pay it here also, but at least as a manager I make out better.

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#45
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Re: highspeed rail

02/05/2013 9:14 PM

That what bid to put rail road crossing drainage etc. Not sure how familiar you are with construction but that's the way it is.

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#50
In reply to #39

Re: highspeed rail

02/06/2013 4:51 PM

"We just received the contract to do 36 miles throw Riverside CA at 135 million. ..."

Does that include acquisition of land? Passenger terminals?

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#51
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Re: highspeed rail

02/06/2013 5:30 PM

We're a contractor buying land isn't part of the deal. Rail pipes bridges intersections etc terminals would be another contract.

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#63
In reply to #51

Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 7:24 AM

Update construction starts March 11th 200+ American workers will be put to work for the next two years. All will be living in the area. Adding to the economy. I guess that's a bad thing??? Can't make everyone happy.

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#64
In reply to #63

Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 7:51 AM

200+ American workers in the area put to work for the next two years building that rail.

Sounds wonderful ............... For the next two years....... I think we ALL agree, That's a nice carrot.

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#65
In reply to #64

Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 8:50 AM

We also have 8 other projects in the area. Total of 750 million in CA alone for our one firm. Total for our SW region $3 billion over 5000 employees not including labors and specialists ie carpenters iron workers welders etc. This is all for this year alone. Pretty nice carrot. ; )

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#66
In reply to #65

Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 9:03 AM

Good morning John, those numbers are very impressive. I'm sorry I don't have a reference on this but if my memory serves me, I believe that for any new business that adds one employee, there will be seven (7) auxiliary employees hired to provide services to that one. I came across that in the early 90's. (I feel 7 is rather high, about 4 sounds more like it)

I think where there is a disagreement on HSR, is the sustainability, i.e. the cost/benefit ratio after the HSR is brought on line. And that is what I meant as a nice carrot and am happy you understand my meaning. ;)

In parting, I'm happy your doing good with the contract portion of HSR, and wish you well.

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#67
In reply to #66

Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 9:46 AM

No problem. After the down turn back in 2008 we're happy with all work coming in. I've never really used any rail not cost effect since i prefer the more rural areas. So cant make a comment on that end. Seems cheaper to build then a road. Less area to disturb plus less material. I guess if they are used it could be more cost effect. But I'm only familiar with the construction end not economics.

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#68
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Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 11:40 AM

80% of freight across Australia is by rail using trains up to 1.8km long, limited by the length of the passing loops. As part of the economics, the owners of the main track (ARTC) charge around $1 per 1000 tonnes per km when the private train operators run on their track. ARTC no doubt make a profit to maintain the rail network, (called sustainability).

With these charges, (excluding the train operator costs), it is equivalent to a charge of less than $100 to access the route from New York to LA to move a standard 20' container. Just another point in the economics of rail over road. HSR can also enjoy similar economics when compared to other transport forms.

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#69
In reply to #68

Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 1:04 PM

In this country, freight by rail may not be the most efficient, but it is the cheapest form of transporting freight. As far as efficiency, I'm talking about over night, or delivered to a place that does not have a railhead or spar.

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#70
In reply to #69

Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 8:25 PM

Widen the 'freight' description to (a) include people at (b) speed ... and you have the start of openly discussing the economic benefits of HSR. And in regard to a 'railhead or spur', expand the definition to include a TOD (transit-oriented development) with residential families and mixed use business at the same site, and the HSR considerations are well underway based on your comment ... 'rail may not be the most efficient, but it is the cheapest ...'

In the HSR exchange, 'taxafornication', 'evil fed funding', 'can't be done in America', 'not enough engineers', 'too expensive' etc are such blinkered perspectives to what other countries have demonstrated can work. If GM can travel to Japan and learn something about profitable production line manufacture of better cars, then maybe the HSR knockers need to also pull their heads out of the sand and smell the roses.

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#71
In reply to #70

Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 8:56 PM

Is it a simple justification. No

Can we learn from other country's who successful implemented rail. Yes

Can we implement what works in other country's here in the us. No, at least in My opinion. We have large open spaces, where the infrastructure has to be developed and a very informed, intensive and expensive study would be implemented to determine its feasibility on being able to be sustainable or at the very least manageable. And not let the special interests groups influence the political decision for HSR.

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#72
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Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 9:54 PM

In the Copenhagen example of installing a complete new commuter train system, it was the addition of 2 extra stations, in 'open greenfields developments', that paid for the whole system to be built. The 'wide open spaces' is the key to the HSR solution. The delivery of infrastructure services (like electricity, water, gas, broadband 'transport') is what is built 'under' the rail line that also adds to the ongoing sustainability of the total solution.

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#73
In reply to #70

Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 11:04 PM

As long as we a willing to accept HSR being subsidized by Uncle Sam, (that would be you and I and all of the other 49 percent of taxpaying Americans. Much like everything else that the government attempts to manage. (I'm thinking along the lines of Amtrack, Department of Education, Medicare, Social Security, etc.) I would have to ask if United Parcel Service and Federal Express can operate at a profit, couldn't the United States Post Office at least break even, and if they are billions short of meeting their obligations, who is it that is covering those expenses and losses? What does Aid to Dependent Children have to do with my Social Security sustainability?

In my life experiences, anything overseen by the government, Federal and State, is burdened by fraud, pork, political corruption, duplication, and waste. There is NO incentive for anything to be operated in a cost efficient manner. Tax dollars are ALL that is needed to keep the system operational, no matter how dysfunctional that system is. What politician, other than Rand Paul, has returned money back to the treasury from the office operating allowance expenses?

Between Governmental largess and social engineering, is it any wonder our national debt exceeds 16 TRILLION dollars.

In California's case, the anticipated route would be through the agricultural heart of the state, in which there is NO infrastructure in place. (let alone people, transit oriented development, etc. California has some of the highest electric rates in the nation, as well as the most restrictive emission standards.

A good site to follow relating to Jerry's railroad, check out California Political Review. I have found it carries the actualities of California politics and back room dealings. A great example of California politics is the company that is overseeing the "Carbon Tax" debacle was awarded to a company located on the east coast, where transactions are hidden from the California taxpayers "open public information laws. How convenient!!! Much like the lame street media failing to report on the actualities in Washington, they also gloss over what transpires in Sacramento.

In my view, freight is the most effective and economical mode for rail transport, and until private capitol bankrolls and operates HSR, I'd prefer to pass.

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#74
In reply to #73

Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 11:26 PM

Hate to break it to you but freight isn't private either you haven't worked with them because they are as inefficient as any other company out there. I've work both side private and public and i see no difference in efficiency or cost savings. Why because there run by humans not robots.

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#75
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Re: highspeed rail

03/03/2013 11:36 PM

Australia Post (government owned) is running at an increasing profit of $280 million in the last year and is investing $2 billion in future technologies, particularly in non regulated commercial environments. The Australian challenges have been 'the tyranny of distance', a continent that is actually bigger than the USA, (7692 million sq km vs USA 7663 million sq km), a population less than 10% and unemployment rates around 5%.

In the USA environment, why shoot the messenger, in this case HSR?
Maybe the future population needs, design and sustainable funding models needs closer consideration?

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#6

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/01/2013 8:12 AM

Yes, just not here, here.

Check with the US Dept. of Transportation.

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#7

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/01/2013 8:13 AM

The experts say not to waste the money.

The politicians refuse to listen to the experts, so they bring in politically connected pseudo-experts who then tell the politicians the lies they want to hear.

This is known as 'progress'.

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#15
In reply to #7

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 5:30 AM

1968 miles at just under $3.5million per mile. For a piece of that size of pie I hereby volunteer to tell California politicians anything that they want to hear. And what I tell them won't be lies, though I my have to stretch extrapolate the truth a little bit.

As for my expertise, I've been on a train, I've even been on a high speed train

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#9

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/01/2013 8:47 AM

IF I hear either "progress" or "forward" again I will scream and go crawl under a rock!

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#10
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Re: Highspeed Rail

02/01/2013 9:24 AM

Yeah, it's been a long downward slide since Neolithic times IMO. Although 1415 was a good year for the longbow.
Del

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#11

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/01/2013 10:34 AM

I don't think high speed rail will have much of an impact in this country, except possibly in the north east where most commuter traffic already exists. Countries that regularly have extensive passenger traffic would profit by HS rail.

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#12
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Re: Highspeed Rail

02/01/2013 10:54 PM

I live, and commuted on the NorthEast rail corridor (south and north of New York). The real commuter trains are relatively slow, fast trains are fast and pricey. The "bullet" train between New york and Washington is real fast and real pricey. And runs only a few times a day. HS rail on the top of it? You are pulling my leg place and pricewise.

A superannuated bridge over the Hudson needs replacement. Planned for 20 years, will be planned for another 30. And that is only pennies compared to any HS.

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#13

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/01/2013 11:11 PM

Not sure of the costings models being used, (number of bridges/tunnels etc) but in Australia, current guestimations on the back of an envelope have light rail starting at $21m/km, heavy rail $30-$50m/km and fast rail somewhat north of that.

Practically, the costing models, designs and construction strategies need to change
for realistic viability considerations. A few examples:

1. A rail link needs to be combined with other transport infrastructure in the same cross section, like electricity generation and transport, water and waste water movement, broadband fibre and gas distribution. A rail link can generate a profit without a light / heavy /fast train even riding the tracks.

2. In my part of the world, 2 new commuter electric lines with 150kph heavy rail services were politically snubbed ... but after building they are carrying the people traffic of 8 lanes of cars, decades earlier than the optimistic planning. The population are voting with their travelling dollar. And there are similar case studies worldwide where good design wins.

3. Most proponents of light / heavy / fast trains understand, like centuries ago, that these links when built first attract investment. Think of the rail links that headed west in the USA. And in recent times, the driverless train networks like in Copenhagen had a couple of extra stations added in greenfield developments, and surprise, the sale of the real estate in these new nodes, paid for the whole system. Like I said, it is time to look at the costing models.

4. When looking at the rolling stock considerations, it could be worthwhile to look at the 'white tail plane leasing model'. The same plane, built in more cost effective quantities, can be moved between operators by painting a different logo on the tail.
The same could be applied to rolling stock.

5. I purchased my first solar PV for around $8 per watt. The plea was for a country to
produce PV in quantity so the price could come down to maybe $2 or $3 per watt. Today I can buy solar PV out of China for less than 80 cents a watt .... in 2013 dollars. Light / heavy / fast rail can also be built in quantity at a more cost effective price.

6. And finally, before you board your 787 Dreamliner (when flying again as a result of the sale of almost 1000 planes to pay for the fixes), after travelling to the airport and re-financing the home to park your car and buy a tuna sandwich, maybe the light / heavy / fast rail costing structures are not all that bad.

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#14

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/01/2013 11:58 PM

The California project has all the earmarks of a classic boondoggle.

At this time, I will be surprised if any actual rail gets laid within ten years. I honestly doubt the current plan will approach anything close to completion within my lifetime (I'm 48). At the very least, I expect the project to be scaled down considerably.

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 7:52 AM

Even Scaled down, it will still be unsustainable. With or without government subsidies. And a smart planner will use the rail being unsubsidized in its business plan....because that is what will be......... But the question from the planners from California is........."What's a Business Plan?"

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#28
In reply to #14

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 11:51 AM

Having lived my entire adult life in Kalifornia, I have to agree that it will be a boondoggle. At this point in Jerry Browns career, he is looking for something to leave as his legacy.

During his 1st tour as Govenor of Kalifornia, He envisioned a west coast space center, which earned him the nickname "Moon Beam", by which he is often referred to to this day.

During his first term as Govenor, "Moon Beam" signed legislation allowing of the public sector to unionize. (late 60's or early 70's~~Linda Rhonstad era) At the present time, the unions are in charge of the politicians who are supposedly "elected" to run Kalifornia. The money required to influence (control) anything that is put on the ballot is supplied from the union coffers. All of the measures that passed or were defeated on last Novembers elections painfully confirmed this.

California taxpayers are on the hook for billions of dollars in unfunded public sector retirement and healthcare costs, which "Moon Beam" prefers to overlook when trying to further bury future California taxpayers in tax liabilities. with rosy projections of future growth and income projections. "We don't have a SPENDING PROBLEM, WE HAVE A REVENUE PROBLEM!!! (as the golfer Phil Nickelson recently emphasized publicly)

Kalifornia has much more pressing obligations for education of it's children, funding it's current liabilities, and repairing it's ailing infrastructure before worrying about the legacy of one of it's politicians. (just my humble opinion)

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#30
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Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 1:02 PM

"Kalifornia has much more pressing obligations for education of it's children, funding it's current liabilities, and repairing it's ailing infrastructure before worrying about the legacy of one of it's politicians. (just my humble opinion)"

Or the obligations to paying for a college education to illegal aliens.

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#17

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 8:15 AM

Seems like there are more skeptics here than in California.

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#19
In reply to #17

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 8:22 AM

Skeptics? Depends on your prospective.

It could be cautious,

Reason, responsible, ect...

The best way to determine the correct prospective, is intelligently investigatation........ And history helps also.....

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 8:36 AM

Do you mean perspective?

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#23
In reply to #21

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 9:12 AM

Yes, thank you, i would like to blame my iPad, but we both know better.

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#18

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 8:15 AM

Anyhow, what good is high speed rail... you need at least a 2 rails
Del

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#20
In reply to #18

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 8:33 AM

HaHa

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#46
In reply to #18

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/06/2013 10:22 AM

...you need at least a 2 rails

It was originally proposed as high speed rails, but the budget was cut in half hence dropping the 's' (one rail).

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#47
In reply to #46

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/06/2013 10:33 AM

that would be hi speed mono rail............. but the budget was cut again, and now its ludicrous speed monkey bars...........

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#22

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 8:55 AM

Japan has high speed trains. I,m sure you can find some engineers that would work for us.

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#24
In reply to #22

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 9:14 AM

I don't believe it's getting the technical expertise, it works in Japan, in the U.S., there are wide open spaces to cover, with scarce population.

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#25

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 9:15 AM

One of the key (cash injection) elements of any light / heavy / fast rail system are TODs. (TOD - Transit-oriented development).

I am surprised that this forum has not raised TODs. These are more than co-sited housing developments. Indeed, they are typically exciting employment creating mixed use nodes. And with such TODs, commuters are coming and going all day and night, which also adds to the economics.

And in just over a week, there is a TOD Conference in Washington DC.
Check it out http://www.ushsr.com/dcprogram2013.html

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 9:18 AM

It was just raised, and thanks for the link.

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#27

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 9:59 AM

Declaring a TOD interest, I am part of a group of 3 residents selling 3568 sqm 'on top' of a commuter railway station, just 17 minutes from the Perth CBD on the west coast of Australia. Yep, there's another web link http://www.todsuccesshill.com

(And for the rail fanatics, the Indian-Pacific across Australia tourist train passes within 20 metres of my front door. It is interspersed with around 1000 commuter train movements each week through the Success Hill railway station).

OK, back to the costing models .... what commuter changes do you think there might be when 3 adults, 2 cats and a dog living in 3 homes on the 3568 sqm swap their space for maybe 100 plus different sized apartments with around 2 commercial restaurants, a mini-mart, a child care centre on the roof, maybe 5 R&D businesses plus another 20 work-at/from-home service companies on the same land ... and retain the big morton bay tree as public open parkland.

Are the skeptics still thinking that this is not possible?

And going one step further, I am working towards taking light rail technology to China,
so generating export opportunities. (http://www.columbuslightrail.com) The Chinese buy 20 million of the 77 million cars produced each year .... yes, it is definitely time to be open minded to economic transport alternatives .... and light / heavy / fast rail can be part of the mix.

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#29

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 12:17 PM

In my opinion the CA Hi-speed rail will not be viable. They can build it since all it requires is a massive amount of money but I doubt it will be sustainable. The real problem with ridership is transportation at the destination. Once you take your super quick ride and reach the end how do you get from the station to where you intended to go without renting another car, or calling a taxi, or hitchhiking, or calling your cousin to pick you up, etc.etc. As anyone who lives in CA knows the state is nearly driving mandatory since nothing is near anything else. So unless they are also willing to invest in a massive public transportation system with the rail system there just won't be an easy way to get from here to there whereever here and there are.

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#33
In reply to #29

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/04/2013 9:47 AM

Exactly, if I where to go from LA to San Francisco, I could probably cab it to my destination for under $10.00, but to travel from San Francisco to LA, a cab to my destination would probably be much higher. Hi-speed rail is exotic and sexy, but without good transportation at the destination, what use is it. Now, if the trains were setup like ferry's and I could drive my car on and off, then it would be useful.

They have been talking about a hi-speed train between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, which is a 90 minute drive by car. I think the only people that want it, are the cab owners, as neither city has much else in public transportation.

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#34
In reply to #33

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/04/2013 10:16 AM

OK, so how much is the cab fare from the airports at each end, (LA & San Francisco) to your start and end destinations .... and how long does it take to drive (or cab) during peak hour?

And what difference would it make if say one of those destinations was a couple of blocks walking distance from the HSR terminal, via your favourite coffee shop? (In other words, leave your car home).

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/04/2013 11:26 AM

I have walked across San Francisco, but I would not want to try to walk across LA. The Lorry's are typically $20.00 from airport to hotel, but most American cities away from the east coast are to spread out to walk to your favorite coffee shop from an HSR terminal, and why would I want to travel to a distant city just to go to a coffee shop. Finally, take Oklahoma City as an example, it is the largest city in America, at least by land area, nothing is in walking distance.

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#36
In reply to #35

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/04/2013 7:46 PM

Good design would have HSR terminals WITHIN the city, regardless of how spread out they are. In Shanghai, China in the current period of construction, (admittedly heavy rail commuting), they are building more than 100km of tunnel in less than 3 years to link up even more nodes.

In China, there are 5 directions, north, south, east, west and centre. We should all take a (design) feather from this Asian cap and head towards the centre.

And a small aside, my local CAT Dealership (Westrac) of west coast Australia, has some 5 substantial outlets in China, so there is a good chance that USA technology and exports are actually continuing to build the many rail networks in China.

As for Oklahoma City, a quick check of the best 21 places to drink coffee in the USA, does not have them on the list. Maybe there are more issues that need a fix that their local government could address?

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#37
In reply to #36

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/05/2013 2:02 AM

"Good design would have HSR terminals WITHIN the city, regardless of how spread out they are. In Shanghai, China in the current period of construction, (admittedly heavy rail commuting), they are building more than 100km of tunnel in less than 3 years to link up even more nodes."

You might want to look at what it has taken to build the light rail system in Los Angeles -- especially the subway portions.

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#31

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 7:10 PM

As you say, hi-speed rail (hsr) is not economically viable today, and even more so, will become even less so in the future.

First, people do not all need to be personally present at many locations today because they can easily communicate on their (various e-phones), purchase most anything on Ebay, Amazon, etc., and/or meet simultaneously through commercially available teleconferencing websites, and/or attend certain conferences, sporting events, etc., via the internet, without travelling much at all, already.

The examples of successful hsr on the U. S. east coast, Europe, and Asia, are anchored to at least one, if not two or more, densely populated, relatively small- sized, business centers. But even those are goverement-subsized to various extents.

Mean while, California goes deeper in to debt, causes more and more businesses to seek greener economic pastures, relocating more and more jobs, and more and more people who simply can't afford to stay any longer, thereby reducing the number of State revenue sources available to be taxed?...

In raising the pricetag from 42 billions dollars to 68 billion dollars, the first (test) section is now planned to go only from the large city of Fresno to the signicantly smaller city of Madera, starting, this summer, while the right-of-way is not yet purchased, and therefore, is currently of unknown price...

While it is (still) true that Silicon Valley is still physically within the borders of (Taxifornia ?), more and more comparable (valleys) are becoming competitive across the rest of the Country... Can (Hollywood) long endure such cost burdens too?...

Also, the current "count" is currently that four significant California cites are bankrupt, and ten more are on the verge... (so far...)

Are not the number and cost of (entitlements, etc.) also increasing?...

What kind of (psycho-emotional profile) enables any California politician to rationalize that greater and greater debt could possibly be paid down by raising taxes on fewer and fewer businesses and residents, while simultaneously subsidizing the (white elephant express)...

Let me put it another way. If you had money available to be invested today, would you voluntarily choose to invest it in a State with such increasing debt, and decreasing businesses, people, taxpayers, while compulsively coercing the construction of an obvious boondogle train (from, essentially, nowhere to nowhere)...

Does this sound like a political ponzi scheme, or what?...

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/02/2013 8:12 PM

Yes the e-phone/e-commerce/e-work is changing the whole interactive work scene. But in the long distance rail commute discussion, there is no comparison to the current alternatives based on airports.

As for the many bankrupt CA communities, do they tax the land used for airports, and the land used for the carparks/road links to get to such airports? If not, why not?

The space resources for light rail / heavy commuter rail / hi-speed are substantially less and can be located under other land uses like agriculture, housing and parks plus the rail links can include revenue generating utilities transport in the same cross-section.

In the discussion about being picked up from a rail terminal is an issue, it is good to know that there is "not the same problem" at airports. At the local Perth airport with so many fly in / fly out long term parking commuters, there are thousands of cars parked at any time with its own paratransit bus service. And would you believe that there are even plane operations to separate the long and short term car parking zones.

Finally, there are some 77 million new cars being added each year to the car driving forces of the world, but somehow, the apparent good news is that the percentage of these vehicles in CA will not add to clogging of the conduits to the airports.

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#38

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/05/2013 3:21 AM

A couple of final (HSR) words ....

As a local government councillor, (Bassendean, west coast Australia 2009-2011), for financial viability it was worth looking at the assets and other resources of a community to achieve sustainability. Maybe the governments that are 'bankrupt' and those on the dollar bumpstops need to have a good look at themselves, and aim at delivering services, not gold plating the taps.

And on evaluating the future transport options, I guess you still have the horse tied up out the front, because obviously anything else will be too scary.

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#48

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/06/2013 3:18 PM

I'm guessing that the average commute between job and home is around 10-20 miles, one way. That would equate (assuming using a personal car) a cost of around $7.00 per day + parking, if any. If using public transportation (buses or subway), the cost may be about $4.00 per day. A HSR commute would cost maybe $20.00 per day. How many would be willing to pay more than they already do? On top of that, HSR wouldn't take you door-to-door, so you would have to add local transportation on top of that.

High speed rail is really not an answer to commuter travel. It is fine for long distance travel and could be competition for airline travel.

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#49
In reply to #48

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/06/2013 4:40 PM

Yes!

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#52
In reply to #48

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/06/2013 7:24 PM

HSR is not a short link commuter service but is a logical technology for the longer links.

As for door-to-door, major transit oriented developments (TODs) co-sited with HSR stations (with light rail and other heavy commuter services), can provide such close together opportunities. There is a conference next week in Washington DC to discuss HSR and co-sited TODs.

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#53
In reply to #52

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/07/2013 9:56 AM

Once you get your TODs developed so you can eat, sleep, and work all in one place, why would you need HSR, as you don't need to go anywhere else?

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#54
In reply to #53

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/07/2013 11:41 AM

I agree ... a well designed TOD doesn't need HSR .... indeed, HSR needs TODs as a game changer to the air alternative. If there is no need to travel large distances between population capitals in a short period of time, why consider HSR.

One of the 'benefits' in a polluted country, with any fast transport system, is the ability to change from an unacceptable work situation to a clean home & play environment.

Again, if the work situation is relatively OK and not far from home, the HSR services are not needed, and a logical medium speed heavy commuter and/or light rail installation will be a much more cost effective solution.

Bottom line .... what percentage of all travel is by plane in the USA?
How does it compare dollar/person/km/time taken with all modes of travel?

And people have to be honest ... the calculations start at the front door and don't end to the office desk or workbench etc. All subsidies like no payment for road access etc as part of system sustainability need to be included. (We do not want to see bankrupt governments not getting paid for services provided like roads, bridges etc).

And in the time stakes, include the time costs (at charge out rates), for the commuters. Example .... a lawyer at $400/hr takes 1/2hr to get from home to work.
Include the $200 in the costs comparison.

With that all done, roll out the HSR costings and compare.

Nothing against lawyers, but imagine if there was a HSR full of the legal fraternity,
and a terrible thing happened like in China where the HSR crashed into the river, killing many. Now, has anyone changed their view on the benefit of HSR?

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#56
In reply to #54

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/08/2013 10:11 AM

The potential comfort factor of HSR for long distance travel over today's airline travel could make the extra travel time worth it. If you are not flying 1st class, you are a sardine.

The USA has improved its air quality a great deal, though there are some areas due to local atmospheric conditions that still need improvement. Right now China seems to have the biggest air quality problem.

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#55

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/08/2013 9:38 AM

With the 2200 cancelled flights announced today, (maybe another 500 flights dropped for tomorrow), then travel in the North East corner of the USA by air appears not to be an option. Maybe HSR if available might be less affected.

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#57

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/08/2013 3:06 PM

I have always been a strong proponent of monorails. It is the least costly of rail systems and can be erected along existing highway corridors or parallel existing RR tracks, if only we can get around the red tape of government bureaucracy. Monorails are the perfect solution for both long and short haul. Maglev can also be incorporated into the monorail system. A monorail system was erected in Seattle for their world's fair and is still operating. It paid for itself in the first year of operation. It is a well proven system. Sure there will always be obstacles in the way, like highway overpasses, but nothing that can't be overcome. Light rail systems have made a comeback in some cities where they were prudent enough not to rip up old trackage; cities like San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose, all in California. Rail systems of any kind, can carry more passengers per mile at a lower cost of any other transportation system. There is still a lot of track infrastructure in this country that can be turned into an efficient mass transportation system.

Why does HSR work so well in Japan? It's because Japan is a densely populated country where land is at a premium; land that is too scarce to be used for sprawling airports. HSR satisfies the need for long distance travel. The same conditions don't exist in this country. We have a lot of wide open spaces that can be traversed by air travel. It's the medium distance routes say between 200 and 600 miles that would profit from HSR. A coast-to-coast trip would still be better done by air. One factor that HSR would have to bear is travel in as straight a line as possible. A dedicated right-of-way, free of grade crossings is also a requirement. If anyone can pull it off, I'm sure California is the state to do it. The location and distances between their major cities fits in nicely with a HSR system.

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#58
In reply to #57

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/08/2013 6:22 PM

I too like the monorail but one problem still remains with them; No one has ever invented an adequate switching mechanism for them. Plus the last I heard they were $10m per mile.

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#59
In reply to #58

Re: Highspeed Rail

02/08/2013 8:07 PM

If you can stand the commercial, check out the website www.columbuslightrail.com and look at the paper delivered in Chengdu, China June 2011. (First item download) The light rail system is effectively a monorail-on-the-ground, using a POP low floor design package. (POP - pneumatic tyres on pavement).

  1. Much lower cost than $10m/mile.
  2. Easy and rapid to roll out. (No overhead wire infrastructure)
  3. Space sharing with existing roads/paths minimises land access costs.
  4. Narrower profile is less obtrusive with more flexible route options.
  5. Works with heavy rail and HSR for the 'last mile' commuter links.
  6. Suits large and small TOD population centres plus tourist attractions.
  7. Monorail on the ground can share with electric cars (a) providing smart guided road functions, and (b) recharging the vehicles by induction for extra revenue.
  8. Monorail on the ground also overcomes the switching issue with multiple radius guided track turntables. (Illustration in the Chengdu paper)
  9. The smart energy delivery guide rail 'disappears' back into the ground after the light rail has moved forward. Tracks do not trip walkers and bike riders.
  10. Steered POP systems turn tighter, are quieter and use less energy.
  11. Passing loops and minimal disabled access station infrastructure are easy to do.
  12. CCTV, smart card extra services and path lighting improves community adoption.
  13. Additional revenue comes from other utilities transport underneath the track.
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#60

Re: Highspeed Rail

03/02/2013 6:49 PM

If there aren't enough (hsr) engineers in Taxifornia already, Siemens (Germany) and other companies will come out of the woodwork to claim they are...

But that's not the most importand point, which actually is, that that State is already going broke, more and more, without the added cost of (hsr)...

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#61

Re: Highspeed Rail

03/02/2013 6:58 PM

Much of the money for (hsr) in Taxifornia will have to come from Federal funds.

That would be your federal tax dollars...

In our current condition of (non-economy), why would you want your money to help buy an (hsr) for such a poor financial prospect as the Taxifornia?...

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#62
In reply to #61

Re: Highspeed Rail

03/02/2013 7:54 PM

The financing model and cash source for infrastructure may definitely need a major fix but that is no reason to say that HSR will not work.

In other parts of the world, they have packages that do work, often tied to new greenfields and regenerated brownfields real estate development, retirement/super funds seeking long term cashflow from privately funded infrastructure and communities that support self sustaining local projects.

110 years ago, a 360 mile water pipeline was built in west coast Australia from the coast to the Goldfields of Kalgoorlie, using 8 pumping stations and lifting the water 1000ft. 'Everyone' and the media was against CY O'Connor. He committed suicide before the task was finished. Do a web search under 'Goldfields water supply scheme'.
Read the history about the criticism, and the fact that it still serves a vibrant gold industry and large communities to this day .. more than a century on!

High Speed Rail, TOD opportunities and overall sustainability can be done.

It is a mix of good design engineering and money engineering ... kicking the 'taxafornia can' is not the perspective to start with .... the Goldfields water supply scheme is worth finding out about and then applying the lessons to HSR.

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#187
In reply to #62

Re: Highspeed Rail

04/02/2013 12:06 AM

By the way, how heavily unionized are the railroads, and construction, in Australia?

Also, percentagewise, how much higher are union wages, in Australia, than non-union wages for directly comparable types of work?

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#188
In reply to #187

Re: Highspeed Rail

04/02/2013 1:04 AM

The railway unions ruled the roost up to the late 1980's when the 'UK Thatcher factor' kicked in. The massive government railway workshops started to be dismantled in the early 1990's and that somewhat destroyed the mechanical/blacksmith apprenticeship schemes. The communities along the railway lines with gangers and their families disappeared about the same time. Private enterprise does most of the rail maintenance these days under contract to the track owners, (that traditionally are a mix of state and federal governments, but now changing to private systems).

In the building industry despite many government efforts, the unions are still quite strong. The heavy BLF (Builders and Labourers Federation) was replaced by the CFMEU, (construction and mining labour union) and still is a strong force despite all governments trying to curb their 'enthusiasm'.

There is something of a blur between union and non-union wages for the same work as (a) the perceived lack of employees on mine sites across Australia, (FIFO - fly in, fly out and DIDO - drive in, drive out), has seen wage packages north of US$150K being very common. (Driven by demand, not union bargaining); and then in the wider working industry there has been (b) conversion of workers working for a wage becoming single private contractors, usually at a 5-10% lesser net wage, with such private contractors carrying their own responsibility for holidays, sick leave, workers' compensation, superannuation and ... a personal profit. The state governments also tax payrolls. So, if an employer can stop employing workers but rather use contract workers, then the dis-incentive payroll taxes above the thresholds around $750K are not triggered.

The minimum wage for an Australian Adult is now about US$680 per week.
At a place like Port Hedland where BHP Billiton ships out iron ore or nearby Karratha which is both iron ore and oil&gas, owners of 3 bed basic homes can and do charge high rents. Weekly US$2000 rents are normal. The grief is that those who flip burgers at Maccas just cannot live in the communities they serve without being a sardine with many people under the same roof. And what about starting a family???

You can understand why the major miners are striving for automation of trains, trucks and almost every other onsite operation. For Rio Tinto workers, it is now much easier but without the high salaries, to travel to the remote control centres like as built on the federal government land of Perth airport, (without state government restrictions), rather than fly off to a remote worksite. The workers also enjoy a normal home life, yes for less pay, but also less cost, without the 'peak hour' at 5am catching planes to remote sites. It is estimated that more than 50,000 are FIFO employees.

The whole FIFO industry started when the Australian Tax Office imposed 'fringe benefits tax' on subsidised remote housing for workers was introduced in 1986 by a labour government. It has wrecked local communities because the workers and their families do not engage/do not live in the area. Things like football, basketball and local schools just do not happen.

Back to the HSR topic and transit-oriented development, (TOD's), they could work say between Barstow and LA, freeing up the freeways and supporting local communities, avoiding the FIFO, DIDO issues.

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#76

Re: Highspeed Rail

03/09/2013 10:29 PM

So what have you discovered from your question about HSR as it may be taken up in the USA?

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#77

Re: High speed Rail

03/10/2013 10:34 AM

There are some basic truths that the US government is intentionally blinding itself to:

1) The entire country has already been designed and built to accommodate automobile transportation. For longer runs, we have airports everywhere.

2) The public transportation that we have in the cities is a good thing. People that either don't have the financial means to own a car, or choose not to own one, have a way to get around town. They rarely have a reason to travel long distances, and the people of limited financial means, won't be purchasing HSR tickets.

3) Time and convenience have a very high premium in the US. People will sacrifice the convenience of using their cars, for the enormous time savings that the airport hassle involves.

People will not subject themselves to the same hassle as flying, to ride on a significantly slower HSR.

4) Amtrak continues to hemorrhage money, year in and year out; all of it on long runs. Building trains that go a little faster will not change this. As the article points out, short runs are profitable. We should build on this concept, and focus on real problems, like the daily traffic jams around our cities. It would make money, and ease genuine congestion.

5) Regardless of the money wasted, government cannot simply will us into a European style, anything; with the possible exception of intense economic hardship.

The government obviously has no intention of stopping the wasteful spending, so I'm glad to see that some of it is resulting in work for some CR4 members, but it still remains wasteful spending.

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#78
In reply to #77

Re: High speed Rail

03/10/2013 12:04 PM

A couple of comments ...

1. The widespread adoption of the car and plane is less than 80 years old ... are you suggesting like Sony did with the Walkman ... that nothing will change and it will be fine.

2. A new commuter rail line from Perth to Mandurah (west coast Australia) is massively ahead of travel number estimates. The BMW owners leave their cars at home and travel the 100km, with some stops, to the Perth CBD in less than 50 minutes. And its cheaper than taking the freeway with the driving stress and paying for parking at their destination.

3. See point 2. HSR can also have co-sited housing and mixed commercial/industrial use with train stops. They are called TOD's (transit-oriented development). Door-to-door, HSR can be substantially quicker than air travel up to 800km. HSR seating is usually more comfortable than squeezed together up the back of a Dreamliner, (when it flies).

4. The privately owned long distance tourist trains of Australia like the 'Indian Pacific' do run at profit. Spending government money to remove daily traffic jams may actually mean more than knocking over trees and adding a couple more lanes to a freeway ... indeed, HSR and other related rail options should be on the table when being open-minded to solving those traffic issues.

5. When it comes to wasting government money, the USA is not an orphan. However, if the government-owned Australia Post can make a $288 million profit last year, while the US Post 'posted' a loss of some $15.8 Billion, then instead of kicking the HSR-can, maybe government services like US Post need to be fixed first, so freeing up the cash for a whole range of new services.

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#79
In reply to #78

Re: High speed Rail

03/10/2013 2:25 PM

When it comes to wasting government money, the USA is not an orphan. However, if the government-owned Australia Post can make a $288 million profit last year, while the US Post 'posted' a loss of some $15.8 Billion, then instead of kicking the HSR-can, maybe government services like US Post need to be fixed first, so freeing up the cash for a whole range of new services. *************************************************** When it comes to fixing things in the government the "cure" is often worse than the "disease". Even though that may be the right course of action from the logical viewpoint do we really want a system which requires sound reasoning by the same people who cannot balance the budget, who spend money like drunken sailors, (my apologies to drunken sailors everywhere) and who have demonstrated that they are completely inept at everything else they have ever done?

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#80
In reply to #79

Re: High speed Rail

03/10/2013 2:50 PM

I live in AZ and we have plenty of sand for you to stick you head in and hid. This is an engineering blog you know the guys the come up all the knew ideas. Sad to say it but most of you have lost that vision. Especially here in the USA.

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#82
In reply to #80

Re: High speed Rail

03/10/2013 3:21 PM

John. Do know of any links to potential ridership data for the CA HSR? I'd like to know the numbers.

If it's able to both pay for itself and sustain itself, I'm definitely out of line.

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#84
In reply to #80

Re: High speed Rail

03/11/2013 12:28 PM

John- there has to be a connection between the engineering solution and its feasibility. If cost is no consideration then I can come up with engineering solutions to anything. Want condos on the moon? no problem. If and when someone can demonstrate how a HSR system can be built and be cost effective so that it will be sustainable then I will get on board. And the solution of "get the government to pay for it" is not the right answer.

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#85
In reply to #84

Re: High speed Rail

03/11/2013 1:17 PM

It looks like Obama's Sequestration will "derail" California's HSR project. Once the $9.8 billion in voter approved bonds that were approved in 2008 are spent, (if they haven't been spent already) the train won't be leaving the station, and as a California taxpayer, I say "Amen". This was Moon Beam's last chance to leave his legacy in the Kalifornia history books. (other than leaving it nearly bankrupt and in dire financial straits relating to the public pension funding)

I realize that John feels that this is not a blog for politics, but it is a highly political issue, which is being funded be U.S. tax dollars, both State and Federal. When private funding comes up with the money, I will be silent. (I would add I won't be investing my retirement funds in it, I wish to enjoy my "golden years" as best that I can)

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#86
In reply to #85

Re: High speed Rail

03/11/2013 1:32 PM

You have to see it at John's point of view.

John has a stake in it, and that is he has part of the contract to build it.

There is nothing wrong with that, but I sleep better at night that Wisconsin Governor Walker turned the grant bait down for HSR, to get our fiscal house under control and in order.

In two years since he took office, we turned a 3 billion dollar deficit into budget surplus projected to grow to $484 million; into a actual tax cut next year.

Simultaneously fighting the public sector union to have the union members pay a small fraction of their own pension and healthcare.

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#87
In reply to #86

Re: High speed Rail

03/11/2013 10:09 PM

Which is the same direction that California direly needs to be heading.

I believe you faced the same predictions of public service calamity, loss of fire and police protection, schools would shudder their doors, the sun would fail to rise in the East if these draconian measures were passed in Wisconsin. California faced similar predictions of blight and gloom when the issue of Proposition 13 (property tax reform) was being debated in the mid 1970's. The proposition was passed by a majority of the taxpayers, and was followed by 10 straight years of prosperity in the state. (Sacramento is now attempting to "unwind" the tax reform to get more money into their hands)

The public union pension and health packages are a HUGE underfunded liability for the state, (something like 500 Billion $)and the unions are going to court to prevent any cut in benefits/increase in premiums. We'll see how that plays out as city after city files for bankruptcy.

Texas Govenor Rick Peryy has been reported to be in, and active in California wooing California businesses to relocate to Texas. Our Govenor shines it on as if NO ONE could possibly leave the "Golden State". OH!!!

The Federal government is BORROWING 46 cents of every dollar it spends. How long can we tread down that road? Austerity is needed BEFORE we fall over the financial cliff, both State and Federal.

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#90
In reply to #87

Re: High speed Rail

03/12/2013 7:51 AM

Last year, the public sector union bused people in to protest at the capital of Act 10, (Budget Repair Bill) with promises of feeding them, teachers brought the students in on a school day to fill up the numbers. And when the union had a sing in, these students started booing them........

Well with everything was said and done, Walker was re-elected by a larger margin. Act 10 went through, but, there were a few liberal schools that quickly signed contract agreements just prior to act 10 passage, and those very same schools, have huge fiscal gaps they can't fill, and are now asking the state to bail them out.

All because we hgave them pay 5% and 10% of there health and pension.

On top of that, Act 10, brokle up the monopoly of the teacher unions (WEAC) becasue they were self insured, we open competition for other insurance company's to bid on insurance. And when the self insured teachers were losing contracts, because the primiums dropped drastically, what was their response. Oh, we can easily match that.

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#88
In reply to #80

Re: High speed Rail

03/11/2013 10:09 PM

Since you all have experience working on similar major infrastructure project like this you all are aware of the years of research in the engineering and economic aspects. The years of traffic studies. Years of public involvement that goes into these projects. Since you are the nay sayers you need to come up with the facts and figures to prove that the project that my company is working on is a waste. I need facts and figures not emotional responses.

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#89
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Re: High speed Rail

03/12/2013 6:10 AM

You really have no reason to take this personally; government screw ups aren't a reflection on your company. I worked on a massive project on the Charleston, SC Naval base in the mid 80s, which we busted our asses on. Not too many years later, Clinton closed the base. It doesn't make the work I did, meaningless.

There are no long distance, (passenger), train runs that are profitable in the US......zero. I don't think the CA HSR will be any different.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281504576329641360701866.html

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#91
In reply to #89

Re: High speed Rail

03/12/2013 9:31 AM

The report doesn't show how the project I'm working on in not financially feasible in fact it shows the opposite. The second is long range rail not hsr. Apples and oranges and doesn't disprove that the project I'm working on is not economical. No facts and figures. As engineers and scientists that is what we should be basing this on. You might need to check some public information from the meetings. Its all public records.

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#92
In reply to #91

Re: High speed Rail

03/12/2013 9:36 AM

Right.

I suppose I could provide links to government reports that turned out to be completely wrong; both in cost estimates and actual benefits, but to do so would require days of my time.

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#107
In reply to #91

Re: High speed Rail

03/16/2013 9:13 AM

Basically it takes to much time to come up with the facts to disprove HSR, so we'll continue to bash it anyway based on emotions and non factoids from the internet. You guys kind of remind me of the girl in that state farm commercial. Everything on the internet is true because its there.

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#111
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Re: High speed Rail

03/16/2013 11:14 AM
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#112
In reply to #111

Re: High speed Rail

03/16/2013 11:32 AM

Figures don't lie,........ But liars can figure.

That is something that because of political agendas, won't be news.

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#113
In reply to #112

Re: High speed Rail

03/16/2013 11:48 AM

John's going to end up embarrassing himself, trying to defend it. I'm not saying he's a liar, it's just that so much of what he knows, isn't true.

Anyway... good for him and his company for getting in on the money. I'm sure they'll do a fine job, and any failures won't be due to anything on their part. Somebody will get the money regardless; might as well benefit a CR4 member.

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#117
In reply to #113

Re: High speed Rail

03/18/2013 9:25 AM

Finally something to back up the claims. Thank you for actually make some sort of research attempt and finding some sort of expert. I'm just curious what evidence the opposition came up with to convince the convening body to go along with it. These meeting if you've ever gone through one is like a trial where the give evidence on both sides. I can guarantee that if he was that effective this would have gone up through a number of committees and public meetings.

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#119
In reply to #117

Re: High speed Rail

03/18/2013 2:57 PM

You have to take a look at the people that are doing the approving. They hear what they want to hear, and believe what they want to believe. It's California, they are not known for common sense decisions. Again; this is no reflection on your company.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/california-high-speed-rail_n_1655437.html

As they push this project forward, incur more debt, and continue to raise taxes, their ridership numbers will continue to decline:

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/moved-342887-companies-texas.html

http://www.aei-ideas.org/2011/07/companies-are-leaving-california-in-record-numbers-and-it-might-get-worse/

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#120
In reply to #119

Re: High speed Rail

03/18/2013 8:16 PM

Unfortunately, I do not possess the gift to link to various sites, but found an interesting article on a few of California's next ideas in "California Political Review", dated 3/17/2013. "Next Big Step in Jerry Brown's $23 Billion Delta Tunnel Plans Unveiled". In the same issue, "7 Million To Be Insured Through Obama Care in California". I believe California is the first state in the union to jump on the bandwagon. (Gooooo Jerry. We don't have the physicians available to treat that number of new patients, so nurses and Physician Assistants will most likely fill the shortage. I just hope THEIR practice is limited to the 7 million NEW patients and in my declining years, I will be treated by a physician!!!) The thought crossed my mind that I MAY have to travel to Arizona to be seen by a real doctor, but that's the price you to pay to live in Taxafornia.

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