15.11.19

TRANSPORTATION PROPHET WITHOUT HONOR.

Back in April of 2012, before I had installed even a single strip of spline subroadbed in the basement, I had this suggestion for backers of California's bullet train.  "Electrify the Peninsula commute zone and the high-speed lines with the same voltage and frequency, then equip the diesel with sufficient fuel capacity to cover the non-electrified parts, and offer a single seat service, with a mode change during a station stop."  They didn't pay attention, and they went ahead with building an elevated high-speed line through the steppes of the Central Valley, rather than building either a permanent fast line from San Jose to the steppes, or a Japanese style tunnelled line from Bakersfield to the northern end of the Los Angeles Commuter Rail network, and institute hourly Intercity 140 trains to build ridership, then start building the fast tracks between Silicon Valley and the Los Angeles basin.

Seven-plus years later, there are trains running around the basement, and switching a number of industries.

They're still wrangling in California.
Even after a decade of abrupt U-turns for California’s high-speed rail project, state leaders are now split like never before.

Gov. Gavin Newsom insists the state stick with his plan to use all of the remaining funds to build an operating segment in the San Joaquin Valley between Merced and Bakersfield.
That's a little bit more useful than seventeen miles of perfectly straight track between somewhere near Chesterton and the south side of La Porte, but only a little bit.

Meanwhile, the sensible fix is, well, too sensible.
Opponents say the state should instead run modern 125-mph diesel trains through the San Joaquin Valley until the system is ready to connect with Los Angeles and San Francisco. Their plan to divert funding would also defer building a link from Wasco at the south end to Bakersfield and possibly from Madera to Merced at the north end.

The changes would save about $5 billion that could help build a tunnel under downtown San Francisco and track improvements on the future bullet train alignment from Burbank to Anaheim.
Sigh. Bring riders into San Francisco on a single seat ride. Los Angeles also. But that's too logical.
Under Newsom’s plan, the bullet train would terminate in Merced, where passengers could transfer to San Francisco on the Alamont Corridor Express, a diesel-powered commuter train.

[Rail authority board member Danny] Curtain argued that running 125-mph diesel trains in the Central Valley on the high-speed track would not require a change of train in Merced to continue onto the Bay Area, resulting in a bigger passenger draw and a faster trip than having a somewhat faster electric train at 170 mph that would require a transfer. And until the line in the Central Valley is ready to hook up with electric trains traveling through mountain tunnels from San Francisco to Los Angles the investment does not make sense, he said.

But [rail authority chief executive Brian] Kelly rejects that as a worst outcome: “What I think would be a tragedy is if you diverted the money to different places and you were left with incremental speed improvement on diesel service.”
At least you'd have a service, and an opportunity to build ridership.

It might be moot, as California's government has no money for the project.

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