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SNCF: "We left California's project behind because it was politically dysfunctional"

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SNCF: "We left California's project behind because it was politically dysfunctional"
Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, October 10, 2022 8:50 AM

Which I suspected from the ballooning costs and very expensive design.     Would be interesting to know all the comments from the French.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/company-hoping-help-california-high-015211264.html

 

 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, October 10, 2022 6:15 PM
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Posted by D.Carleton on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 5:29 PM

Many moons ago I happened to have an exceptionally enlightening conversation with someone in a restaurant on Mott Street in Manhattan. He was ethnically Chinese but lived in Paris and worked as a translator for their court system. After telling me some experiences he related how, after telling his native Chinese parents the same, they declared that France was more corrupt than China. The takeaway: How bad must California be that even the French can't stand it?

Editor Emeritus, This Week at Amtrak

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Posted by mdw on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 9:36 PM

This article is so agrivating. The author has had a vendetta against this project for over 12 years.  He was fired from the LA Times and how he got this article to the NY Times is hard to fathom.  It simply drags out all of the old tropes against the project on long settled issues.  Quite simply, SNCF proposed the easiest, cheapest (but would still be costly and difficult) solution, which the CHSRA basically HAD to reject because it simply ignored the 3+million people in the Central Valley.  Politically there was no option but to reject this proposal. Yes, it was politically decided but a project of this huge scope cannot avoid the entry of politics, and the CHSRA was bound by the establishing legislation to chose a route/system to connect ALL of the state, not just LA to the Bay Area.

Why would cities in the Valley NOT try to lobby to be included in the system? They have the worst connectivity to the rest of the state.

Why is this project so hated???

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 11:02 PM

D.Carleton
How bad must California be that even the French can't stand it?

Lol.......suck de bleua!Big Smile

 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 11:08 PM

mdw
Why would cities in the Valley NOT try to lobby to be included in the system? They have the worst connectivity to the rest of the state.

My understanding is the French Proposal was to get a system up and operating fast at least cost and to add the Central Valley later vs right up front to lower the complexity of the design and the mileage of the design.    I could be wrong of course but that was my understanding of what they proposed.

I think they proposed similarly in Texas with the Texas TGV proposal?

The main issue I see with the current California proposal is the state will not see the complete system up and operating between two significant points for some time and the voters will continually be asked to punk billons upon billions down a hole that keeps getting larger with not much to show for the expenditure.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, October 12, 2022 1:55 AM

mdw
Why would cities in the Valley NOT try to lobby to be included in the system? They have the worst connectivity to the rest of the state.

You must not know too much about the engineering of practical HSR.  All those cities ruin any particular time saving from the very expensive class 9 track and high-speed-capable equipment -- it's the same problem when you have NEC stops in Wilmington and Baltimore on the way to DC.

Practical connectivity for the Central Valley would involve nothing 'faster' than 125mph PRIIA with normal grade and bridge civil between those cities, with cross-platform connections to the true Central Valley HSR line at points suitable to the latter's practical operation for actual time reduction between stops.  Instead everyone wants their own way station to justify all the Chinese-wall ROW and noise that goes with any high-speed railroad that 'goes through for someone else's benefit'.  And HSR simply doesn't work that way.

Meanwhile the actual shortening of travel time between LA and SF is... not particularly achieved.  In terms of political inclusion, this -- which was one of the major points in building HSR at all -- falls by the wayside.  

We had a similar issue in Memphis concerning the airport light-rail line.  What was needed was a quick way to get passengers to planes, a way quicker than express buses to the adjacent 'transit center' and then shuttle buses to the terminals.  What wound up being 'politically expedient' was a trolley for airport workers, expensively built down several main streets, offering an over-40-minute ride, with grades and curves and no luggage-handling ability, at a putative cost of over $4 billion.

Why is this project so hated???

Because it's a political boondoggle and, more and more, a functional, operational, and engineering failure.  The example in Morocco is not the only illustrative comparison.  Laugh if you will at the Chinese, but they learned how to build far faster HSR infrastructure and equipment... and then actually built out many thousands of route-miles... in far less time than California has spent for its excuse.

So far.

And now they're saying they can't get it running until 2030 or later.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, October 12, 2022 8:06 AM

Overmod
...

And now they're saying they can't get it running until 2030 or later.

Remember - 2030 is less than eight years away!

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Posted by azrail on Wednesday, October 12, 2022 3:44 PM

Laugh if you will at the Chinese, but they learned how to build far faster HSR infrastructure and equipment... and then actually built out many thousands of route-miles... in far less time than California has spent for its excuse.

Of course the Chinese HSR trains have a habit of running into each other.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, October 12, 2022 9:17 PM

mdw
Quite simply, SNCF proposed the easiest, cheapest (but would still be costly and difficult) solution, which the CHSRA basically HAD to reject because it simply ignored the 3+million people in the Central Valley. 

I don't think the problem was running down the Central Valley cities.  The problem seemed to be the dogleg thru Palmdale and Mojave.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, October 13, 2022 9:56 AM

azrail

Laugh if you will at the Chinese, but they learned how to build far faster HSR infrastructure and equipment... and then actually built out many thousands of route-miles... in far less time than California has spent for its excuse.

Of course the Chinese HSR trains have a habit of running into each other.

 
It's a lot easier to get big projects done quickly in an authoritarian state.
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Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, October 13, 2022 11:51 AM

mdw

 

Why is this project so hated???

 

I think it's more ridiculed than hated.  The hate part might be coming from the people who have to pay for it.

For some reason, it's kind of difficult to come up with how much money has been spent so far, but I found it:  10.3 billion.

What does California have for that money?  Apparently, a graded right of way, including bridges, from Fresno to Madera (midway between Merced and Fresno), the potential first operating section.  That's 23 miles.

 

These numbers may be incorrect.  As I said, there's not a lot of info out there about how much has been spent and how much is completed.  For example, CHSR could post a weekly flyover of progress, on their website.  Then Californians (and other payers) could see how things were going physically.  If someone has more accurate figures, I'd like to see them.

It's been suggested that the whole project might come to 105 billion, approximately 10 times the amount spent so far.  That would produce another 207 miles of graded right of way.

 

 

Ed

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, October 13, 2022 3:16 PM

7j43k
What does California have for that money?

A lot of happy contractors whom I am sure are more than happy to siphon off as much money as they can get away with from a state inexperienced with projects of this size.    You have to wonder why the state  is managing the project vs a company like BECHTEL or some experienced PM for projects this large.     I suspect because the project is also viewed as political candy.   And the candyman is in the Central Valley.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, October 13, 2022 5:51 PM

azrail
Of course the Chinese HSR trains have a habit of running into each other.

One collision in 2011 with 40 dead and a derailment in 2021, one dead.

Hardly a habit.

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Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, October 13, 2022 6:00 PM

Some time ago, I got interested in how much installing one of those small farm-road overpasses over the tracks costs.  

I e-mailed in the question and it took a long time for the answer.  Which was "we don't know".

Thing is, that is a discrete project.  A stand-alone.  And it doesn't involve the tracks at all.  So it's kind of hard to argue that it's too "tied in" with other tasks and projects.  Two piles of dirt, a bridge, and paving.  Doesn't seem too hard.

There really should have been some accounting on that.  For example, railroads had AFE's, where a project was described and money allocated.  You can still read ones today from a hundred years ago.

Here is a link to California State audits of CHSR:

https://www.bsa.ca.gov/reports/agency/160

 

And here is a summary of the latest audit, from 2018:

https://www.bsa.ca.gov/reports/2018-108/summary.html

CHSR has a finance and audit committee of its own.  

 

Ed

 

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Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, October 13, 2022 6:10 PM

charlie hebdo

 

 
azrail
Of course the Chinese HSR trains have a habit of running into each other.

 

One collision in 2011 with 40 dead and a derailment in 2021, one dead.

Hardly a habit.

 

 

The 2011 crash was a failure in the signal system followed by some poor communication and/or bad choices:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wenzhou_train_collision

 

Ed

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, October 13, 2022 6:20 PM

When I was in the ACI 'structure' in the early 1990s, there was quite a bit of discussion and interest in making concrete bridges and viaducts quicker and less expensive to build.  If you don't need a grand structure with heavy guardrails and shoulders, you can make double-track portals to AAR plate K or whatever, erect them as precast units, and arrange deck beams to go on as one fabricated piece with a crane to minimize the actual interruption to traffic.  Then build and pave whatever approach ramps and vertical curves as needed to prevent ag equipment from high-centering.  

But as MC has noted, the tendency is to spend scads of money to 'future-proof' the crossings.  Not all this is highway bubbatizing: every foot of double-stack or trilevel clearance, or equipment rock, costs extra, and then there are allowances for future OHLE electrification... one of the great reasons to consider punctate electrification.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, October 14, 2022 10:15 AM

charlie hebdo
One collision in 2011 with 40 dead and a derailment in 2021, one dead. Hardly a habit.

Actually, there have been two incidents reported, the latest below.    The system is new and not aged for starters.   Secondly, I would never place my life in the hands of reporting mechanisms of the Chinese Communist Party as you can read they have attempted to cover up the reasons for crash #1.    If it really is crash #1 instead of reported crash #1.    I seem to remember the Soviet Communist Party not doing very well with Airliner design or safety.    

https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/04/china/china-train-derail-death-intl-hnk/index.html

 One of the rather interesting results of the partial investigation of the 2011 crash:    "Zhang Shuguang, the deputy chief engineer of China's railways, was also arrested in February 2011 and alleged to have amassed $2.8 billion in overseas accounts."        Oh dear.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, October 14, 2022 11:10 AM

The 2011 crash barely qualifies, aside from the death toll from equipment falling from a viaduct.  In my opinion a great deal of the subsequent action was political manipulation.  It was a rear-end collision at about 60mph, due to a common-mode failure of their PTC and signal systems caused by a lightning strike.  

Apparently there was a detailed Chinese accident analysis -- but it would take Mike to find it easily in English.  Most recent Amtrak wrecks are more abysmal at lower operational running top speed.

And the other accident is from running into landslide debris, complicated by the wet-tissue-paper out-of-design-plane structural integrity we saw in the Eschede wreck.  If you want true HSR at all (that being over 35mph faster than an Acela's top speed in service) you'll be accepting that kind of damage in such accidents.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, October 14, 2022 11:15 AM

The 2011 crash barely qualifies, aside from the death toll from equipment falling from a viaduct -- a bit like an Asian Ashtabula Horror.  In my opinion a great deal of the subsequent action was political manipulation.  It was a rear-end collision at about 60mph, due to a common-mode failure of their PTC and signal systems caused by a lightning strike.  

Apparently there was a detailed Chinese accident analysis -- but it would take Mike to find it easily in English.  Most recent Amtrak wrecks are more abysmal at lower operational running top speed.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Saturday, October 15, 2022 2:06 AM

CMStPnP
You have to wonder why the state  is managing the project vs a company like BECHTEL or some experienced PM for projects this large. 

Because it is NOT a transportation or construction project, it exists for poliicians to pay off favored groups (which do not include the masses it claims it will benefit)

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Saturday, October 15, 2022 2:24 AM

7j43k
The hate part might be coming from the people who have to pay for it.

Which is every single US taxpayer. And the estimated cost from the project (mis) managers is now $113 billion and many are starting to admit it may never be finished.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, October 15, 2022 7:07 PM

BEAUSABRE
 
7j43k
The hate part might be coming from the people who have to pay for it. 

Which is every ingle US taxpayer. And the estimated cost from the project (mis) managers is now $113 billion and many are starting to admit it may never be finished.

Public works type projects are never finished.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, October 17, 2022 9:50 AM

BEAUSABRE
many are starting to admit it may never be finished.

Well the solution to fix is expensive but they can fix it.   

Just build a HSR line direct from SFO to LA along the coast line, use it for express trains and use the dog legs into the Central Valley as feeder lines for both ends with some through trains.    In which case the LA-SFO direct portion would be viable time wise.

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Monday, October 17, 2022 12:46 PM
 

mdw

This article is so agrivating. The author has had a vendetta against this project for over 12 years.  He was fired from the LA Times and how he got this article to the NY Times is hard to fathom.  It simply drags out all of the old tropes against the project on long settled issues.  Quite simply, SNCF proposed the easiest, cheapest (but would still be costly and difficult) solution, which the CHSRA basically HAD to reject because it simply ignored the 3+million people in the Central Valley.  Politically there was no option but to reject this proposal. Yes, it was politically decided but a project of this huge scope cannot avoid the entry of politics, and the CHSRA was bound by the establishing legislation to chose a route/system to connect ALL of the state, not just LA to the Bay Area.

Why would cities in the Valley NOT try to lobby to be included in the system? They have the worst connectivity to the rest of the state.

Why is this project so hated???

 

A few things...

California's HSR is driven by politics. Not efficiency, not expertise, not budget constraints, and certainly not ROI.... Do, Kings/Tulare, Hanford, Modesto, Merced, etc need stops? 

CHSRA should only be connecting these cities initially:

LA

San Diego

Bakersfield

Sacramento

San Jose

SF

Oakland via BART

Instead they chose to drive the route through an expensive land purchasing process. When they could put the route over the Grapevine(Tejon Pass) following I-5 then up to Bakersfield. Coming back over to the west side of the CV. Running up the backside of the Transverse range. Land would have been much cheaper to acquire..

 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, October 17, 2022 9:54 PM

CMStPnP

 

Well the solution to fix is expensive but they can fix it.   

Just build a HSR line direct from SFO to LA along the coast line, use it for express trains and use the dog legs into the Central Valley as feeder lines for both ends with some through trains.    In which case the LA-SFO direct portion would be viable time wise.

 

HSR along the Coast would have both horizontal and vertical doglegs.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, October 17, 2022 9:59 PM

SD60MAC9500
CHSRA should only be connecting these cities initially: LA San Diego Bakersfield Sacramento San Jose SF Oakland via BART

Fresno has a bigger population than either Sacramento (by a little) or Bakersfield (by a lot).

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Posted by 7j43k on Monday, October 17, 2022 10:53 PM

From Proposition 1A, authorizing this project, 2704.08(2)(J):

"The planned passenger service by the authority in the corridor or usable segment thereof will not require a local, state, or federal operating subsidy."

From this we can see that use of high speed rail between Merced and Fresno shall not be subsidized after construction is complete.  If you care to take the train, you will pay FULL FARE.

It's the law, and California government is bound to follow and enforce said law.

 

So then:

 

Who will ride this train?  What will the fare be?

 

These are questions that the California High Speed Rail Authority should already be considering.  And by now, they should have some answers.

I do so look forward to reading them.

 

 

Ed

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 10:12 AM
 

MidlandMike

 

 
SD60MAC9500
CHSRA should only be connecting these cities initially: LA San Diego Bakersfield Sacramento San Jose SF Oakland via BART

 

Fresno has a bigger population than either Sacramento (by a little) or Bakersfield (by a lot).

 

Yes Mike you're correct in Fresno being larger in total metro area and density population than Bakersfield. Looking at the details Sacramento is a different story having over double the metro area of Fresno, and 88% greater population density.

Populations as of 2020:

Bakersfield

   City 403,455

   Metro 909,235

   Density 2700/sqmi

 

Fresno

   City 542,107

   Metro 1,008,654

   Density 4723/sqmi

 

Sacramento

   City 524,903

   Metro 2,397,382

   Density 5,374/sqmi

 

 

 
 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 11:13 AM

7j43k
It's the law, and California government is bound to follow and enforce said law.

Oh, man, you still believe stuff like that? Having to follow the law has never stopped them before. They'll find a judge who will declare that the payments to HSR are not a subsidy (perhaps a "grant" or a "loan" that somehow never gets paid back) - the same way the Supreme Court decided that making private individuals buy health insurance is a "tax"

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