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wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

State Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, has stepped up his efforts to derail the state’s high-speed train project. Last week, Secretary of State Debra Bowen gave the go-ahead for him to start collecting signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot that asks voters if they want to pull the plug on the High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act.

LaMalfa and former California Congressman George Radanovich are the proponents of Senate Bill 985 that created the initiative. They now must collect the signatures of 504,760 registered voters by Aug. 13.

In 2008, California voters approved $9 billion in bonds to launch the project, which would connect San Francisco to Los Angeles via the Central Valley and be completed by 2020. Trains would run up to 220 mph on an 800-mile network of tracks, making the trip between the Bay Area and L.A. in two hours and 40 minutes. But the cost has zoomed, according to the state’s High Speed Rail Authority, from an estimated $45 billion to between $98 billion and $117 billion, and the finish date has been set back a few years. Still, Gov. Jerry Brown remains a strong supporter and the Obama administration has promised the state $3.5 billion in federal aid if the project begins this year.

In 2010, LaMalfa introduced Senate Bill 22 to end the bond process that would fund the train. But that bill has stalled, losing most recently on Jan. 10 on a 3-to-6 vote in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. So LaMalfa, who is now running for the congressional seat long held by Wally Herger, wants to take the matter back to the voters.

The actual wording of the bill states that it “would provide that no further bonds shall be sold for high-speed rail and related rail purposes pursuant to the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century. The bill would amend the bond act to authorize redirection of the net proceeds received from outstanding bonds issued and sold prior to the effective date of this act, upon appropriation by the Legislature, from those high-speed rail purposes to retiring the debt incurred from the issuance and sale of those outstanding bonds.”

High-speed rail is clearly a partisan issue, with progressives labeling it a much needed step into the future and conservatives like LaMalfa labeling it just another bureaucratic boondoggle.

On his website, LaMalfa comments on a report from the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office that says repealing the bond measure would save the state more than $709 million a year.

“This report should be an eye-opener for Californians impacted by Governor Brown’s cuts to core state services,” he writes. “The $709 million a year some would spend on high speed rail could more than offset last year’s cuts to the University of California, California State University or state community colleges.”

And a March 8 editorial in the Orange County Register headlined, “Moonbeam Express costs soar ever higher,” repeats that LaMalfa quote.

Actually, the report by the state legislative analyst and director of finance on the fiscal impact of SB 985 on the state and local governments if passed by voters says: “State debt-service savings of up to $709 million annually from not using state bond funds to support high-speed rail, depending on the actual reduction in bonds sold as a result of this measure. Unknown reduction in state and local revenues due to a somewhat lower level of economic activity in the state over the next several years, resulting from a loss of matching funds from the federal government or potential private investors.”

Earlier this year, Ray LaHood, the U.S. transportation secretary, paid a visit to California to assure Gov. Brown that the high-speed rail project had the president’s support. LaHood called it “good for the economy and the nation.”

In a prepared statement addressing the project’s spike in costs, Thomas Umberg, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said, “We don’t have many choices. We can do nothing and bury our heads in the sand. We can build more freeways and airports. Or we can do something visionary that transforms California’s transportation infrastructure.”

LaMalfa could not be reached by press time for a direct comment to the CN&R, but in another posting on his website he writes: “To be blunt, the California High Speed Rail Authority could give lessons to Third World dictators on the concept of public misinformation.”

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has reached an agreement with more than a half-dozen San Francisco Bay area public agencies to fully fund the electrification and modernization of Caltrain’s commuter-rail system.

The parties are taking advantage of local, regional and federal funding to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in high-speed matching funds that can be invested in the Caltrain corridor, according to a Caltrain press release. As a result, Caltrain’s system could be electrified by 2020 — a decade sooner than estimates included in CHSRA’s latest business plan.

Once Caltrain’s corridor is electrified between San Francisco and San Jose, the agency will be able to operate lighter-weight electric vehicles that will be faster, cleaner, quieter and more efficient than the current diesel trains, according to Caltrain. The agency then could operate more frequent service, which officials expect will help increase ridership and prepare the system to accommodate future job and population growth.

In turn, Caltrain will generate more revenue and reduce its operating subsidy, agency officials believe. The electrification could help resolve Caltrain’s financial woes; the agency does not have its own dedicated tax base or revenue source, and depends on one-time funding, administrative cuts and service reductions to address its annual structural deficit.

After the corridor is electrified, Caltrain will need to complete additional improvements before future high-speed trains could operate on the line. The agency currently is assessing the feasibility of carrying out various “blended system” alternatives to determine the necessary infrastructure improvements

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The Mineta Transportation Institute (transweb.sjsu.edu) has published Estimating Workforce Development Needs for High-Speed Rail in California, a report assessing the overall employment, education, and training needs associated with building and operating the California High-Speed Rail (CHSR) network.

The report also seeks to develop insight into how these challenges can be addressed by all levels of the California education system. Principal investigator was Peter Haas, Ph.D., with assistance from Paul D. Hernandez, MPIA, and Katherine Estrada, MPA. The 160-page report is available for free PDF download from transweb.sjsu.edu/project/1027.html

“Much public discussion has focused on how high-speed rail may or may not provide real and long-term employment,” said Dr. Haas. “However, given the high profile of national and state commitments to high-speed rail, it is essential to have a comprehensive analysis that discusses the education, training, and related needs that will be created during the build-out and operation of the California HSR network. By estimating the required people power, skills, and knowledge, this report identifies those workforce development challenges and offers some solutions.”

The report addresses four specific questions:

  What types of workers will the CHSR network require at various phases of the project’s life over the next 15 years?
  How many of each type of employee are needed over the life of the project, and how do those estimates change over the life of the project?
  What specific skills and knowledge does the CHSR workforce require?
  What is the existing capacity for training and educating this workforce, and how must it adapt to the challenges posed at each stage of the CHSR?

The comprehensive document notes that workforce development is intrinsically tied to the CHSR network build primarily because of the initial reasoning behind developing the network. The system was proposed in part, according to the report, because it has the capacity to jump-start the California economy insomuch as it buttresses the construction workforce with procurement bids. It also will inevitably have direct impact on industries outside of construction, including those associated with the design, operation, and maintenance of the network, through the infusion of technology into the system.

The report also includes sections on estimates of workforce and employment development needs, and an assessment of existing capacity for HSR workforce development. These sections delve into several key factors, including critical issues of HSR technology; an employee estimates summary; education impacts by phase; workforce development needs during the peak phase; the capacity of community colleges, trades training, and higher education; the interplay of university and industry; the possible means of achieving workforce goals; and several other factors.

The majority of the employment estimates use “personnel years” – similar to using “labor hours” to estimate a project – which is the most accurate way to estimate workforce needs. This is standard industry practice because it enables the most precise calculation of the amount of labor necessary to complete a given project.

“Rather than continuing to speculate on workforce development impacts, it was necessary to provide a public document that presents fact-based research,” said Dr. Haas. “This report does not address the general needs of rail construction, which are already known. Rather, it gives particular attention to specific skills and training requirements necessary to build and operate the technology-rich, 220-mph high-speed rail.”

Some of those requirements include natural disaster detection capability; intrusion prevention and detection; specific communications, electrical, and energy management systems; advanced train control, signaling, and collision prevention; noise and vibration management; national traction power systems; maintenance for rolling stock and systems; and many other particular requirements.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

The Caltrain corridor will be electrified nearly a decade ahead of schedule as the California High-Speed Rail Authority has agreed to split the local project’s nearly $1.5 billion cost.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has cut a deal with the rail authority to invest matching local funds to get the corridor electrified by 2020, 10 years ahead of the original time estimate as shown in the rail authority’s business plan.

“It is great news for Caltrain. It is a huge opportunity that will bring the area immediate benefits,” said Caltrain spokesman Seamus Murphy.

Even if the statewide project somehow ultimately falls apart, the early investment by the rail authority will ensure Caltrain does get electrified, he said.

The memorandum of understanding the MTC approved still needs to be approved by the rail authority board. The rail authority is also set to release an updated business plan at the end of the month that Caltrain officials hope will focus on the “blended” system proposal that will keep the project essentially within Caltrain’s current right of way.

Early designs on the Peninsula for the project showed mostly an aerial four-track viaduct needed to accommodate both Caltrain and high-speed trains that were faced with fierce opposition.

Once the system is electrified, Caltrain will be able to operate lighter-weight electric vehicles compared to the existing diesel trains on which the agency currently relies.

Caltrain touts electrification as the agency’s savior since it will be faster, cleaner and quieter with more frequent service to more stations.

Caltrain expects significantly more riders to hop on its trains once the corridor is electrified. In recent years, the agency has struggled with a nearly $30 million annual structural deficit that has been closed with regional support and by deferring capital improvement projects. It lacks a dedicated source of funding and relies on San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties for financial support.

The high-speed rail authority has pledged about $706 million for Caltrain electrification from Proposition 1A bond money, a $9 billion bond measure approved by voters in 2008.

The MTC will set aside about $467 million in current and future Federal Transit Administration funds and another $11 million to rail toll funds for the Caltrain electrification project.

“Modernizing Caltrain has and will continue to be one of my highest priorities for our region. It is the spine of our transportation system and it must be brought into the 21st century. Now the regional agreement to fully fund the electrification of Caltrain and positive train control will make this a reality,” U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, wrote in a statement.

Eshoo, state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, first proposed the “blended” system early in 2011.

That plan has since been embraced by Caltrain. Caltrain has even requested the rail authority take out a four-track proposal for the Peninsula in its next business plan.

Caltrain is currently assessing the feasibility of various blended system alternatives to determine what specific infrastructure improvements will eventually be needed to support high-speed rail and how they can be designed to minimize impacts on surrounding communities.

Passing tracks, about nine miles, will have to be constructed somewhere along the corridor so high-speed trains can bypass local Caltrain commuter trains.

The rail authority is set to start construction on the Central Valley section of the statewide project but in recent months has also looked at funding construction projects on the system’s two bookends in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

 

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Bid to appease bullet train critics may violate law

Revisions are in conflict with the ballot measure approved by voters and may go against the Obama administration's plans. Gov. Jerry Brown backs the changes but admits potential legal problems.

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wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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 series of concessions over the last year to quiet opposition to the California bullet train has created a potentially lethal problem: the revised blueprint for the system may violate requirements locked into state law when voters approved funding for the project in 2008.

The Legislature packed the law with an unusual number of conditions intended to reassure voters, protect the project from later political compromises and ensure that it would not end up a bankrupted white elephant.

But many of those requirements may be at odds with the plan to integrate bullet trains with existing commuter rail lines in Los Angeles and San Francisco. They may also conflict with the Obama administration's insistence to start construction in the Central Valley without any near-term prospect that high-speed trains would operate there.

Outside critics, state oversight boards, some legislators and former officials of the California High-Speed Rail Authority say the compromises violate those requirements, not to mention that voters were told the system would cost far less than the currently projected $98.5 billion.

The project is entering a crucial phase, adding urgency to the legal questions. A final business plan is expected this week. Gov. Jerry Brown said he will request $2.7 billion from the Legislature next month. And the authority wants to start building a 130-mile section of track later this year. A legal dispute could snarl the tight schedule.

Quentin Kopp, an architect of the project when he was a state senator and chairman of the rail authority, believes the design changes do not meet the law and is not what was envisioned by the Legislature.

"These guys at the rail authority have been pretty clever," said Kopp, who is also a former state judge. "I saw it coming."

The mandates in the law are considerable. They require that any initial segment has to use high-speed trains. Money for each operating segment needs to be in hand before construction starts. Passengers must be able to board in Los Angeles and arrive in San Francisco without changing trains. As many as 12 trains per hour are supposed to run in each direction and the system has to operate without taxpayer subsidies.

Instead, the rail authority has agreed to run fewer trains at slower speeds on tracks shared with commuter rail systems, Amtrak and freight trains. In the early years, passengers will probably have to transfer trains to get from one end of the system to the other. The concept, known as the blended approach, was pushed last year by Bay Area politicians, who fought the original plan to run high-speed trains through the region on 60-foot high viaducts over localneighborhoods. The idea has attracted support in Southern California as well.

Brown has thrown his weight behind the blended plan, but also recognizes the potential legal problem.

"We are aware of the issue," Brown said. But he dismissed the suggestion that any judge would block the nation's largest infrastructure project over disputed ballot language. "People want to micromanage everything," Brown said, adding that the matter will be tested legally before any bonds are sold to pay for the work.

The rail authority is on guard too. The former chief executive, Roelof van Ark, requested a legal analysis by the attorney general. In the confidential letter dated Sept. 9, Van Ark asked whether the blended system would "comply with the criteria prescribed by Proposition 1A" and whether "there is a time limit to achieving full compliance" with the law.

A spokesman for the attorney general, citing attorney-client privilege, declined to say whether the office has issued an opinion.

The blended approach was intended to save the project. State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) said the earlier plan for exclusive high-speed rail tracks was unaffordable and faced overwhelming opposition in the Bay Area. But he acknowledges the alternative system, which will be detailed in its final form when the business plan is made public this week, may have defects also.

The two biggest legal issues, Simitian says, are the requirement for no subsidies and the fracturing of the bullet train project into pieces, whereas the law describes it as a unified effort. Kopp believes the failure to guarantee a single-seat ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco in the early years is a key legal liability, though transit officials disagree with him.

Mehdi Morshed, a former chief executive of the rail project, said the reduction in the number of trains represents a major setback. The blended approach may reduce the number of train departures to as few as two per hour at peak times, while the law calls for up to 12 trains per hour.

"Why would we spend billions of dollars to get two trains per hour?" Morshed said. "We were telling people the system would have essentially unlimited capacity. If you don't have frequent service, you are not going to have a profitable system."

Meanwhile, a suit brought by Kings County and two of its residents alleges that the plan to start construction in the Central Valley is also illegal. "It is just a conventional rail line," attorney Michael Brady said. "It will not be electrified. There are no trains in the funding."

Indeed, those issues were debated by the authority board in December 2010. Former deputy Atty. Gen. George Spanos warned the board at the time that the Central Valley track was not "in our view a usable segment" under the law. Since then, the authority has created a new vocabulary and deemed the track an "initial construction section," rather than an operating segment. Authority spokesman Lance Simmens said the agency has an internal legal opinion that the Central Valley plan complies with the law.

Whether a court would actually stop the project because of such alleged violations is not clear, said UC Berkeley assistant law professor Bertrall Ross, an election law expert. The conditions in the law, he added, were not in the ballot summary that voters saw at the polls, and judges often attach more importance to that than the underlying statute. On the other hand, some of the conditions were in voter pamphlets, and a judge could rule against the plan on that basis, Ross said. "It could go either way."

But the legal issues, even if they are decided in favor of the authority, threaten to further delay a project that is already slipping months behind schedule and leaving legislators little time to carefully consider major changes in the plan.

"No one wants to feel like they are in a car showroom being told this is a one-time offer and we have to make up our mind now," Simitian said.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

California's bullet train authority and representatives of the Brown administration are exploring ways to relax environmental review procedures on the massive project to help meet a tight construction schedule, The Times has learned.

Major environmental groups confirm they have been in discussions with state officials about some type of relief from possible environmental challenges to the project, which is falling behind schedule and risks losing federal funding if it must conduct new reviews of construction and operational effects.

The environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Planning and Conservation League Foundation, say they are willing to consider small-scale concessions but will oppose a wholesale exemption of the environmental process.

The $98.5-billion rail system would be the nation's largest infrastructure project and faces a daunting environmental review process. If revisions of the bullet train plan force the California High-Speed Rail Authority to conduct new reviews, it may push construction past deadlines required to obtain federal funding.

"It could potentially kill the project," said Bruce Reznik, executive director of Planning and Conservation League, which supports the bullet train but also has participated in litigation against the rail authority.

Dan Richard, chairman of the rail authority, said the state was not seeking to bypass any laws or seeking any exemptions from regulations. But new plans to blend the bullet train system into existing San Francisco and Southern California commuter rail systems have altered the project design. Richard said he's concerned about having to redo the environmental review already completed for the Bay Area.

"It is a technical issue," Richard said. "It is a characterization issue. All I have done is raise it with people and see how we can deal with it."

But environmental groups say the discussions have involved more than simply clarifying technical issues. They say the talks have included streamlining the environmental review process. Given the scope of changes recently proposed for the system, the rail authority ideally would conduct a new, systemwide environmental analysis that could take a year or more, they say. Critics argue that existing environmental reviews are no longer relevant.

"The environmental review doesn't describe the system they want to build," said Nadia Naik, a cofounder of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Development. "The blended approaches puts constraints on how many high speed trains can operate. It affects the trip times. The question is where is the analysis?"

The rail authority is supposed to unveil a new — and final — business plan in the next week.

Ken Alex, Gov. Jerry Brown's director of the state Office of Planning and Research, and Richard met March 14 with representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Planning and Conservation League. Joel Reynolds, a senior attorney for the NRDC who attended the meeting, said simplifying the environmental review process was discussed, but Alex and Richard did not mention outright exemptions from state regulations.

Reynolds said his group "would be highly skeptical" of any major relaxation of the state's environmental review requirements. Reznik said his group would agree to "tweaking" the process, but would not commit to any concession until they see a proposal on paper.

Brown spokesman Gil Duran said the governor was not considering any environmental exemptions, appearingto leave open the possibility of streamlining the process.

Richard defended the validity of existing reviews for the proposed system. Plans to blend bullet train operations with existing systems will reduce, not increase, environmental issues, he said. The discussions with environmental groups may help head off future conflict, given that the state has already been threatened with lawsuits, he said.

Indeed, a local Bay Area environmental group, TRANSDEF, has joined two suits that forced revisions of the environmental plan and is contemplating a third suit, said the group's president, David Schonbrunn. The group wants the existing route into the Bay Area via the Pacheco Pass near Gilroy dropped because it would disturb environmentally sensitive rural areas. It advocates a more direct route over the Altamont Pass near Stockton.

"The rail authority is getting ready to be three-time losers," he said. "If they keep doing what they seem to be doing, there is a good chance they could get sued."

The blended system was pushed by local leaders over the last year as the only way to politically save the project. But it may violate a bond measure approved by voters in 2008. Quentin Kopp, a former state senator and former chairman of the rail authority, said the effort to integrate northern California's Caltrain and other rail systems is an attempt by local agencies to get bullet train money.

"I consider such a plan a device by shrewd leaders of Caltrain and Metrolink to get money out of the high-speed rail authority and the bond proceeds," he said. "This is not what was contemplated by the Legislature."

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

California’s MTC endorses regional agreement to fund modernization


Thursday, March 29, 2012


The San Francisco Bay area Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved a regional agreement to fully fund the electrification of Caltrain on March 28 and is the first step in bringing modernized rail service to the region spanning San Francisco to San Jose.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the California High-Speed Rail Authority and more than a half-dozen Bay Area public agencies takes advantage of local, regional and federal funding to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in high-speed rail matching funds for investment in electrification and modernization of Caltrain. This investment could result in a modernized Caltrain system as soon as 2020.

The agreement must be endorsed by all the parties, which include the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, the city of San Jose, the city and county of San Francisco and the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which owns and operates Caltrain.

With an electrified system Caltrain will be able to operate lighter-weight electric vehicles with significant performance advantages compared to the existing diesel rail technology.

Electrification will bring a faster, cleaner, quieter, more efficient rail system to the corridor, with more frequent service to more stations and significantly increased ridership. A modernized Caltrain system will accommodate future job and population growth in the region.

Additional improvements, which would be done after Caltrain is electrified, would be needed before future high-speed rail service could operate on the corridor.

Currently, Caltrain is studying the feasibility of various alternatives to determine what infrastructure improvements will be needed to support high-speed rail while minimizing the impact on surrounding communities.

The agreement specifies that future improvements would be limited to support blended high-speed and commuter rail operations on a system that is primarily two-tracks.

 

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

California's bullet train authority and representatives of the Brown administration are exploring ways to relax environmental review procedures on the massive project to help meet a tight construction schedule, The Times has learned.

Major environmental groups confirm they have been in discussions with state officials about some type of relief from possible environmental challenges to the project, which is falling behind schedule and risks losing federal funding if it must conduct new reviews of construction and operational effects.

The environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Planning and Conservation League Foundation, say they are willing to consider small-scale concessions but will oppose a wholesale exemption of the environmental process.

The $98.5-billion rail system would be the nation's largest infrastructure project and faces a daunting environmental review process. If revisions of the bullet train plan force the California High-Speed Rail Authority to conduct new reviews, it may push construction past deadlines required to obtain federal funding.

"It could potentially kill the project," said Bruce Reznik, executive director of Planning and Conservation League, which supports the bullet train but also has participated in litigation against the rail authority.

Dan Richard, chairman of the rail authority, said the state was not seeking to bypass any laws or seeking any exemptions from regulations. But new plans to blend the bullet train system into existing San Francisco and Southern California commuter rail systems have altered the project design. Richard said he's concerned about having to redo the environmental review already completed for the Bay Area.

"It is a technical issue," Richard said. "It is a characterization issue. All I have done is raise it with people and see how we can deal with it."

But environmental groups say the discussions have involved more than simply clarifying technical issues. They say the talks have included streamlining the environmental review process. Given the scope of changes recently proposed for the system, the rail authority ideally would conduct a new, systemwide environmental analysis that could take a year or more, they say. Critics argue that existing environmental reviews are no longer relevant.

"The environmental review doesn't describe the system they want to build," said Nadia Naik, a cofounder of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Development. "The blended approaches puts constraints on how many high speed trains can operate. It affects the trip times. The question is where is the analysis?"

The rail authority is supposed to unveil a new — and final — business plan in the next week.

Ken Alex, Gov. Jerry Brown's director of the state Office of Planning and Research, and Richard met March 14 with representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Planning and Conservation League. Joel Reynolds, a senior attorney for the NRDC who attended the meeting, said simplifying the environmental review process was discussed, but Alex and Richard did not mention outright exemptions from state regulations.

Reynolds said his group "would be highly skeptical" of any major relaxation of the state's environmental review requirements. Reznik said his group would agree to "tweaking" the process, but would not commit to any concession until they see a proposal on paper.

Brown spokesman Gil Duran said the governor was not considering any environmental exemptions, appearingto leave open the possibility of streamlining the process.

Richard defended the validity of existing reviews for the proposed system. Plans to blend bullet train operations with existing systems will reduce, not increase, environmental issues, he said. The discussions with environmental groups may help head off future conflict, given that the state has already been threatened with lawsuits, he said.

Indeed, a local Bay Area environmental group, TRANSDEF, has joined two suits that forced revisions of the environmental plan and is contemplating a third suit, said the group's president, David Schonbrunn. The group wants the existing route into the Bay Area via the Pacheco Pass near Gilroy dropped because it would disturb environmentally sensitive rural areas. It advocates a more direct route over the Altamont Pass near Stockton.

"The rail authority is getting ready to be three-time losers," he said. "If they keep doing what they seem to be doing, there is a good chance they could get sued."

The blended system was pushed by local leaders over the last year as the only way to politically save the project. But it may violate a bond measure approved by voters in 2008. Quentin Kopp, a former state senator and former chairman of the rail authority, said the effort to integrate northern California's Caltrain and other rail systems is an attempt by local agencies to get bullet train money.

"I consider such a plan a device by shrewd leaders of Caltrain and Metrolink to get money out of the high-speed rail authority and the bond proceeds," he said. "This is not what was contemplated by the Legislature."

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

 

On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved a regional agreement to fully fund the electrification of Caltrain.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the California High-Speed Rail Authority and more than a half-dozen San Francisco Bay-area public agencies will make use of local, regional and federal funding to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in high-speed rail matching funds for investing in Caltrain’s electrification and modernization, Caltrain officials said in a prepared statement.

The investment could result in a modernized Caltrain system as soon as 2020, they said.
The commission’s vote “represents the first step in what will eventually be a great leap forward for transit on the peninsula,” said Caltrain Executive Director Mike Scanlon. “It demonstrates how we can effectively prepare for the future and at the same time realize tangible, more immediate benefits for our riders and our communities.” 



The agreement still must be endorsed by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, San Mateo County Transportation Authority, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, city of San Jose, and city and county of San Francisco, as well as the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which owns and operates Caltrain.

Additional improvements, which would be completed after Caltrain is electrified, would be needed before future high-speed rail service could operate on the corridor, officials said.

Caltrain officials are studying various alternatives to determine the infrastructure improvements necessary to support high-speed rail. The agreement specifies that future improvements would be limited to support blended high-speed and commuter-rail operations on a system that is primarily two-tracks

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Transportation is a very political issue since it usually depends on public monies. But Rarely is it a partisan issue. This is because everyone needs  good transportation.  In a disaster if transportation is cut off most stores will run out of inventory in a week or less. Most gas station have less than a 2 days supply of fuel. The growing demand for transportation is so great that there a general consensus that building more roads and airports  won’t meet our future needs. There is growing acceptance that more rail passenger service is needed. Despite this the California High Speed Rail Project has run into heavy opposition. The problem isn’t that people don’t want more, faster and better rail passenger service.  It is that the planning for this projects has succeeded in making enemies of land owners and local communities because of the level of land condemnation and impacts from the proposed construction for a project  many people feel they won’t use.

 

About 3 years ago plans for High Speed Rail in Los Angeles and Orange Counties were  presented to the agencies in the region and they were not pleased. Billions of dollars of spending was being proposed for an all new railroad for High Speed Trains going no faster than 125 miles per hour between Anaheim and Sylmar. There were no plans to share any of the new construction for use by Metrolink or the Pacific Surfliner trains even when sharing the same right of ways. It was clear that these plans would have major problems both because of their high costs competing for limited funding for rail passenger service and the impacts from condemned land for parts of the project as proposed. The local Southern California agencies went to work and created their own plan that was cheaper, used little condemned land and was more likely to get built that shared the improvements with Metrolink and Pacific Surfliner Trains. The trains would stay on the existing right of way between Los Angeles and Fullerton but with 2 additional tracks for High Speed, Metrolink and Surfliner Trains.  From Fullerton to Anaheim the existing tracks with grade crossing would be used with upgrades for High Speed Rail trains. The High Speed Rail Authority didn’t like the plan of the local agencies but they didn’t have a choice. The local agencies’ plan became the accepted plan for Southern California.

Much the same thing over a longer period of time happened on the the San Francisco Bay Peninsula. Again the High Speed Rail Authority was planning to build separate tracks for high speed trains for a top speed of 125 miles per hour. This too would require condemning land to widen a right of way which generally was wide enough for a 4 track railroad. Soon there was local opposition to the impacts of the plans for High Speed Rail and very little of sharing costs for improvements for both High Speed Rail and Caltrain services. Recently there has been agreement to build a “blended system” with both services sharing tracks and electrification which would much less expensive and have fewer impacts on the local communities.

The Brown Administration soon found that when they took over the High Speed Rail Project just how troubled it was and how much opposition there was to what was being proposed. Successful politicians know that to get a bill passed or a project built you need to have more friends than enemies. Politicians usually ask what is in it for them and their constituents when asked to support anything. By embracing a blended or shared use of tracks with local services which would lead to funding to improve local as well as High Speed Rail many local leader had more reasons to support  High Speed Rail. But is this the right way to build High Speed Rail, has this been tried before? Actually this this quiet common in most places with High Speed Rail, but the best example is in France which is widely considered a leader in High Speed Rail Passenger service.

The French National Railroad, the SNCF as of 2010 ran over 800 TGV trains a day.  But this should be seen in context of the 12,000 to 14,00 trains a day the SNCF also ran as commuter, regional, long distance conventional and freight trains in France over an 18,000 route mile system in a county slightly smaller than the State of Texas. Almost as important as the TGV trains are the LGV  routes  which are initials in French for High Speed Line. The LGV’s are the routes where the TGV’s can run up to 200 miles per hour and by-pass populated areas. The TGV’s serve around 230 cities in Europe, most of them in France. But the LGV’s don’t go through cities. In urban areas where it would be very expensive to build new high speed lines the TGV continue to use already existing commuter, regional and other conventional rail lines. Top speeds on commuter rail lines in France is 75 miles per hour which the TGV follows in Paris. In many places the older conventional railroad have been upgraded to allow speed up to 137 miles per hour for use by the TGV. The 8 LGV lines make up 1,175 miles of the total route miles for the TGV ‘s as of 2010 and another 1,250 miles are under construction.

The big difference between California and France is we still have a long way to go upgrading many of our existing rail lines to be part of a greater high speed network. Building tracks between Los Angeles and San Francisco for train travel in under 2 hours and 40 minutes seem absurd if we don’t at least reduce running times between Los Angeles and San Diego from 2 hours and 40 minutes to under 2 hours at the same time. The reason for this is as a high speed network is created it needs links to feed traffic to it. There are long range plans to build High Speed between Los Angeles and San Diego via Riverside but this will be very expensive and some time in the future. A likely first stage High Speed Rail service would run from Los Angeles to Merced. But to make this work it will need connections to San Diego, the Inland Empire, the Bay Area and Sacramento.This could be done with connections to the Surfliners, San Joaquins, Metrolink and ACE. The way the TGV would do this would be to run trains from day one from San Diego to Oakland and San Bernardino to San Jose. It wouldn’t be high speed all the way but it would be faster and more direct than what is available now. And yes the TGV uses diesel locomotives on non-electrified lines in France. But beyond this there is the need for a larger  State wide feeder system using buses to trains stations where rail service is not available for High Speed Rail. This doesn’t only increase ridership and revenues, but it increases support for High Speed Rail service and reduces the opposition to it from areas of the State that sees their tax dollars being spent for something they won’t be able to use.

The whole point of building better rail service is to provide a good service people will want and ride, not to break speed records. The cost of gasoline and transportation are major issues that people want alternatives for. Air travel is not getting faster it is getting slower and more expensive. The fixation on building a 220 miles per hour railroad has created most of the problems for the California High Speed Rail Project and the massive opposition to it. Building fast railroads is expensive which is why the TGV has high speed only in areas with low populations and low construction costs. The goal of 2 hour 40 minute or less service between Los Angeles and San Francisco can and should be a long term goal. Transportation planning often have goals up to 50 years in the future. These long term goals are based on priority and availability of funding. We need to build a faster State wide rail passenger network first before worrying about breaking speed records. The final service will need a LGV type bypass route that can be built with few or no stations for speeds over 150 miles per hour. The I-5 in the San Joaquin Valley would be a logical place for a LGV type of rail line. But before that that is done the railroads in the San Joaquin Valley should be greatly improved for less money that is being proposed for 220 mile operation for speeds well over 100 miles per hour to serve the most populated area of the Valley.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The price tag for California's ambitious high-speed rail project has dropped to $68.4 billion, a $30 billion decline over a highly criticized draft released last fall, a source familiar with the plan confirmed late Friday.

The first full section of track will now stretch from Merced to the San Fernando Valley, a significant expansion of the initial phase that eliminates the so-called "train to nowhere" between two small Central Valley cities.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority had scheduled a news conference for Monday to announce its updated business plan, but The Sacramento Bee reported some of the key details late Friday night.

A source familiar with the plan who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly confirmed the drop in price and relayed other elements of the updated plan to The Associated Press.

The rail project, authorized by voters in 2008, has been criticized since the rail authority released a draft plan last November that gave a jaw-dropping price of $98 billion to build the initial phase, which did not even include connections to the state capital or San Diego. The total cost had been projected to be $43 billion when voters approved the seed money four years ago.

The price explosion has led to a referendum drive to halt the project at the ballot box and prompted Republican members of Congress to cut off further funding for the project.

California will receive $3.5 billion in federal money if the state breaks ground this year with an initial segment in the Central Valley.

The updated business plan expands the initial, 130-mile Madera-to-Bakersfield section into a 300-mile section from the northern San Joaquin Valley to the San Fernando Valley, on the doorstep of downtown Los Angeles. That section would include trains moving at the top speed of 220 mph and would be completed within 10 years.

Another key feature of the revised plan is to halt the high-speed lines, at least initially, just outside Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area, then make improvements to existing rail service there. That would include electrifying some of those lines.

Nearly $2 billion would be provided for improving local rail systems so they could hook up with the high-speed rail network, in what the rail authority is referring to as a "blended approach." Combining the high-speed system with existing urban commuter rail is expected to be a significant cost savings.

Accelerating work on the overall project also is expected to save money by cutting the construction time.

The rail authority board is expected to consider the revised plan on April 12. Gil Duran, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, declined comment because the plan has not been officially released.

Since becoming governor last year, Brown has tried to reset the troubled project, installing two new members of the board, including Dan Richard, its new chairman. Richard and the governor had indicated that the eventual price was likely to be considerably lower than the $98 billion cited in the draft report.

Supporters have said private operators could run the system without more taxpayer money, but the state auditor said there is no backup plan if the rail system doesn't immediately turn a profit. Other concerns include the project's engineering, ridership projections and fares, which rail officials said would be low enough to compete with airfares.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW


A new financing strategy is a centerpiece of a revised business plan that state leaders will unveil Monday in Fresno for the proposed high-speed train system.

Rather than relying on the uncertainty of future federal transportation funds, money from the auction of air-pollution credits -- the state's "cap-and-trade" program -- can provide a "backstop" source of money that the California High-Speed Rail Authority could tap if needed, authority chairman Dan Richard said in a conference call with reporters today.

The state has about $3.5 billion in federal stimulus and transportation funds from the Obama administration that would be matched by almost $3 billion from Proposition 1A, a high-speed rail bond approved by California voters in 2008, to build from Fresno to Bakersfield. But critics said the authority had not identified potential sources of money to build anything beyond that initial construction segment.

Gov. Jerry Brown suggested in January that cap-and-trade money paid by industries throughout the state could provide a funding source for high-speed rail. In his proposed 2012-13 state budget, Brown estimates that cap-and-trade could generate as much as $1 billion a year for California.

"We now believe we have a funding plan that allows us to plan for and commence development of the nation's first operable self-sustaining, high-speed rail system which will connect the Valley ... with the Los Angeles basin," Richard said.

Construction is still proposed to begin in Fresno late this year or early next year, Richard said. But instead of being part of a stand-alone stretch to Bakersfield until future funds are identified, it will be part of a unified plan to build a high-speed line from Merced to the San Fernando Valley by 2022.

Merced-Burbank line would become the first operational segment for high-speed trains to carry paying passengers. The revised business plan calls for shifting the authority's focus away from building entirely new, dedicated high-speed tracks in Los Angeles and the Bay Area and instead running trains on existing but upgraded tracks or right of way shared by L.A.'s Metrolink trains and the San Francisco Peninsula's Caltrain commuter trains -- what the plan describes as a "blended system" of track infrastructure and operations.

A blended system would allow conventional trains to make use of high-speed tracks before high-speed trains are ready to carry paying passengers and coordinate high-speed and conventional trains on the tracks once high-speed service begins.

An earlier version of the business plan released in November estimated the cost of a blended system between Los Angeles and San Francisco at about $79 billion, Richard said, while building a full system of tracks dedicated only to high-speed trains in the Bay Area and Southern Californiawould cost a whopping $98 billion.

The latest version of the business plan estimates the cost of a blended system at $68.4 billion, allowing for inflation over the next 16 years, while fully dedicated high-speed tracks in the major urban centers is no longer being considered.

The initial operating section from Merced to Burbank carries a price tag of about $31 billion.

Connecting the Valley to Southern California in one continuous phase of development, Richard said, answers concerns raised by critics about the risk of the Fresno-Bakersfield segment becoming "a train to nowhere" if additional construction money can't be found later.

Cap-and-trade is a program in which industries in the state must reduce their air pollution below certain thresholds. If companies cannot achieve the reductions in time, they can buy credits built up by companies that comply ahead of schedule. Those credits are sold at auction by the state.

Richard and a fellow authority board member, Michael Rossi, said the agency will continue to seek more federal funds over the coming 10 years to build the Merced-Burbank section, even though the Republican-controlled Congress has denied the Obama administration's requests for future money for high-speed rail programs.

"We're hoping to get a federal commitment over the next 10 years of at least $4 billion, and we're going to do everything we can to develop private-sector revenues from station development, right-of-way leasing and advertising," Richard said. "If that doesn't close the gap, we've got the cap-and-trade funds as a backstop against any of those that fall short."

The revised business plan predicts that in 2022, the first year of operations with paying passengers between Merced and Burbank, high-speed trains would provide 2.9 million to 5 million rides. Even the most pessimistic estimate, Rossi said, would sell more than enough tickets to cover the cost of operations and maintenance without any state subsidy. The break-even point, he added, is about 2.3 million riders.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

LOS ANGELES - The agency overseeing California’s high-speed rail project reportedly plans to reduce the projected cost of the bullet train by $30 billion by connecting it with existing rail lines on the outskirts of Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Critics say the revised plan would not create the system that voters were promised when they approved $9 billion in public funding four years ago to get the project started. That plan was to allow passengers to ride without any transfers between the two metropolitan centers - at a total cost of $43 billion.

Since then the price tag had soared. Cutting the cost by $30 billion reduces the price to $68.4 billion, which is still $25 billion above the original. The new plan, according to the Associated Press, would spend $2 billion to improve existing rail lines into Los Angeles and in the Bay Area.

The new plan calls for an expanded 300-mile first segment, connecting Merced in the Central Valley to the San Fernando Valley within 10 years. The earlier draft plan included only a 130-mile portion of that, from Madera to Bakersfield.

GOP state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, a critic of the plan as it has evolved, told the AP that voters’ intent was that the project be "a true high-speed rail from one end to another and that it has to operate on its own, that the state can’t be underwriting it. This is far short."

Support for the project has fallen as the cost has ballooned. A survey by the Field Poll found that 59 percent of likely voters would reject the project if given the chance to vote again. Another public opinion survey this year put that figure at 62 percent.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and his appointee to oversee the authority, Dan Richard, have said the project’s cost had to be reduced for taxpayers and lawmakers to support it. The rail authority board is expected to consider the revised plan April 12.

James Earp, a union leader who helped orchestrate the 2008 ballot measure approving the project, said the new plan is "a game-changer for the California economy." He lauded Brown for standing up to critics in the Legislature.

Brown is preparing to ask state lawmakers to appropriate $2.3 billion in rail bonds to begin building the first phase by year’s end, a timeline that is a condition for receiving about $3.5 billion in federal money.

Nadia Naik of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design said the organization is "really concerned about the lack of public participation in this plan. They’re releasing this Monday, and it’s going to a vote next week."

LaMalfa and former Central Valley congressman George Radanovich are working to force a new statewide vote on the train. LaMalfa is also trying to halt the project with legislation introduced in the Senate.

"The amount of bond debt service for this rail would more than offset the cuts to the University of California, California State University or Medi-Cal," LaMalfa said. "Look at all the things that are important to this state. People want a new vote."

A separate attempt to put the issue back before voters was approved by the secretary of state earlier this year. That measure is the "No Train Please Act."

Lance Simmens, communications director for the rail authority, would not comment on the revised report, other than to say it would be released Monday.

 

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

California high speed project revised, price drops

Published: April 2, 2012

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California High-Speed Rail Authority has scheduled a news conference for today to announce its updated business plan. The revised plan’s cost will be dropped to $68.4 billion, and the first full section of track will now stretch from Merced to the San Fernando Valley, a significant expansion of the initial phase that eliminates the so-called “train to nowhere” between two small Central Valley cities, according to the Sacramento Bee and the Associated Press.

The project, authorized by voters in 2008, has been criticized since the rail authority released a draft plan last November that gave a price of $98 billion to build the initial phase. The total cost had been projected to be $43 billion when voters approved the initial money for the project four years ago.

The updated business plan expands the initial, 130-mile Madera-to-Bakersfield section into a 300-mile section from the northern San Joaquin Valley to the San Fernando Valley, on the doorstep of Los Angeles. That section would include trains moving at the top speed of 220 mph and would be completed within 10 years. California will receive $3.5 billion in federal money if the state breaks ground this year with an initial segment in the Central Valley. Accelerating work on the overall project also is expected to save money by cutting the construction time.

Another key feature of the revised plan is to halt the high speed lines, at least initially, just outside Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area, but make improvements to existing rail service there, which would include electrifying some of those lines. Nearly $2 billion would be provided for improving local systems so they could connect with the high speed rail network, in what the rail authority is referring to as a “blended approach.” Combining the high-speed system with existing commuter rail is expected to be a significant cost savings.

The rail authority board is expected to consider the revised plan on April 12.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

California (STOCA1) (STOCA1) can build a high-speed rail line connecting the most-populous U.S. state’s biggest cities for $30 billion less than earlier projections, the agency overseeing construction said.

The bullet-train project, eventually linking San Francisco to Los Angeles, would cost $68.4 billion, down from the $98.5 billion estimated in November, according to the California High- Speed Rail Authority’s revised business plan released today. The proposal saves money by upgrading existing commuter and freight lines in some areas, rather than build new track, and counts on funds from California’s new program selling pollution credits.

California is the only U.S. state working to lay tracks for trains to run as fast as 220 miles (354 kilometers) an hour, after Congress cut off 2012 funds for such projects. In January, a state legislative review panel, questioning its long-term funding, recommended against selling debt to start the project.

“We have confidence in this plan, and in fact we are excited about this plan,” Dan Richard, the authority’s chairman, told reporters in Fresno. “This system will not only bring high-speed rail to California, but it will bring high- speed rail to America.”

Under the redrawn plan, California would route the main track down the backbone of the state from Merced, about 120 miles south of Sacramento, the capital, to the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles. It would then connect to the population centers of Los Angeles and San Francisco by modifying existing commuter and freight lines to handle high-speed trains.

Double Estimate

Governor Jerry Brown has defended the project, which previously called for building the first phase in the state’s less-populous Central Valley and didn’t explain how the rest of it would be financed. Even trimming the bill by $30 billion, the price tag is still almost double what voters were told it would cost when they approved bonds for the project in 2008.

The new plan counts on money the state is expected to earn beginning later this year from its cap-and-trade air-pollution program. The funds would help jump-start construction until federal and local financing arrive.

California will auction tradeable allowances that permit industries such as power generators and oil refiners to release carbon into the atmosphere if they can’t meet requirements to lower their pollution to 1990 levels. Brown estimates the state will take in about $1 billion in the year beginning July 1. Under the law that created the program, the money is supposed to be used on programs that help to reduce greenhouse gases.

Government, Private Investment

State Auditor Elaine Howle criticized the high-speed rail plan in January as lacking specifics about how the state might come up with the money. California has received commitments for $3.5 billion in federal funds. State officials have said they plan to rely on a mix of government and private investment to complete the line, including as much as $9.95 billion in bonds.

Brown will ask lawmakers in the next few weeks to approve spending some of the bond money to start construction. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer would then sell the securities. The first section will use $2.7 billion of those bond funds, including $597 million in 2013, according to the business plan.

In January, the high-speed rail board’s chairman and chief executive officer both announced they were stepping down amid criticism of the plan.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

The California High-Speed Rail Authority released a revised Business Plan to launch the nation’s first high-speed rail service within 10 years.   

“Our revised plan makes high-speed rail better, faster and cheaper,” High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard told a news conference at the Southern Pacific Building in Fresno. “Drawing on hundreds of public comments as well as the expertise of our technical staff, we were able to refine our thinking and improve the plan enormously. The revised plan will enhance local rail service immediately and, in the long term, cut total project costs by $30 billion.”

Under the revised 2012 Business Plan, construction begins this year on the 300-mile Initial Operating Section, stretching from Merced to the San Fernando Valley. This new plan also improves the safety and efficiency of existing urban rail systems. These improvements will bring immediate benefits to commuters and ultimately allow the integration of local systems with high-speed rail. The key changes to this revised business plan include:

  • Constructing 300 miles of electrified rail from Merced to San Fernando Valley in 10 years.
  • Improving existing rail service in the Bay Area and Los Angeles regions to prepare those systems for high-speed rail service.
  • Cutting $30 billion in costs, through the blended approach, cost savings and inflation assumptions.
  • The potential to access cap and trade funds as a backstop to federal funding.

The revised business plan also improves existing local rail systems in Northern California, Southern California and the Bay Area. These improvements include converting local diesel-powered rail systems to electric power and improving safety through positive train control. The new plan also includes safety and reliability upgrades to existing Amtrak/Metrolink rail corridors between Los Angeles’ Union Station and Anaheim. All these improvements will increase the speed at which trains currently in service can travel safely.

Construction of the entire 520-mile rail system will finish in 2028, with service to begin in 2029. This improved system will cost $68.4 billion in year-of-expenditure dollars, a $30 billion reduction over the previous plan. Six billion dollars in funding has already been identified for the first segment of the Initial Operating Section, including $3.3 billion in federal funding and $2.7 billion in voter-approved Proposition 1A bond proceeds. Cap and trade funds are also available as a backstop against federal and local support to complete the initial operating section. No operating subsidy will be required.

This revised business plan must be approved by the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors, who will meet in San Francisco on April 12.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Press Release


  •  

    April 2, 2012 

    Contacts: 

    Lance Simmens, 916-203-6160

      

      

    Janis Mara, 916-403-0558

      

      

    Karen Massie, 916-403-0558

      

    Elected Officials, Business Leaders Voice Support

    for Revised High-Speed Rail Business Plan 



    SACRAMENTO – Following the release of the California High-Speed Rail Revised 2012 Business Plan, business leaders and public officials voiced strong support for launching the nation’s first high-speed rail service within ten years, cutting project costs by $30 billion and using existing rail lines in the northern and southern ends of the project.
     

    The changes were based on hundreds of public comments and more than 300 meetings with members of the public.  Construction is proposed to begin this year on a 300-mile Initial Operating Section stretching from Merced to the San Fernando Valley.  

    Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “In ten years, Californians will be able to travel through the Central Valley and into the Los Angeles Basin in half the time it takes to drive. This revised plan is bold, practical and puts California out in front once again.” 

    U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood: “Thanks to the leadership of Governor Jerry Brown and High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard, the new plan will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and deliver the economic benefits of high-speed rail faster and more affordably.  And by combining existing assets in the Bay Area and LA Basin with new construction along other parts of the line, the new plan ensures that construction and operating costs for the first segment of the project are fully paid for while lowering the cost of the entire system by $30 billion dollars.” 

    Rep. Nancy Pelosi: “Under the superb leadership of Chairman Dan Richard, it is clear that the Rail Authority has listened to the concerns of Californians and produced a high-speed rail plan for the future that is better, faster and cheaper. High-speed rail will transform journeys into commutes, uniting our state and ensuring our citizens can travel as fast as our innovative ideas.  In additional to the 1 million jobs created across California, this project will offer a cheaper travel choice to consumers, improve the air we breathe, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil in a time of rising gas prices. As the report demonstrates, the price of inaction is far outweighed by the cost of building for the future.” 

      

    Rep. Jim Costa: “I want to commend the High-Speed Rail Authority and the Governor for listening to the concerns raised about high-speed rail.  Transparency, construction costs, ridership numbers and long-term funding have to be addressed to make the project viable. Mitigation in the Valley, especially for agriculture, must be a part of the solution.” 

    Rep. Zoe Lofgren: “Today’s revised plan is a blueprint for a better, faster and cost-effective 21st century transit system. “By listening to the people of California, the Governor and High-Speed Rail Authority’s strategy right sizes this effort, achieving high-speed rail for $30 billion less than previous cost estimates.” 

    California State Assemblymember Henry Perea: “High Speed Rail will transform the Valley's economy, create jobs, and connect our state. I'm pleased that the Board and Authority staff have worked very hard to listen to the citizens and have created a business plan that makes sense and will give this project the opportunity to succeed.” 

      

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:  “High-speed rail is the natural extension of the transportation network we are building in Southern California. When it comes to transportation infrastructure, connectivity is key. The California High-Speed Rail Authority's new business plan is a blueprint for high-speed rail in our state. High-speed rail means jobs now and a cleaner environment with more transit options tomorrow. The new plan, linking the Southern California Metrolink system to the Northern California Caltrain system, will bring major economic opportunities to our region while improving our existing regional rail systems.” 

    San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed: “We appreciate efforts to continue studying alternatives that will allow early investment in projects in the Bay Area, such as electrification in the corridor. Improving the connections between our state’s economic and tourist centers will create jobs and benefit the entire high-speed rail system.” 

      

    San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee: "To maintain our global economic competitiveness, we must re-commit our investment to infrastructure. California high-speed rail will cultivate greater travel and tourism in our State, cut greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and reduce dramatically our dependence on oil. By reducing congestion on our freeways and highways, at our airports and on commuter transit, we will create jobs and grow a greener economy.”  

      

    Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin: "I applaud the work undertaken by the Brown Administration and the High-Speed Rail Authority to lower the cost of the project and accelerate the completion of the initial operating segment.  Fresnans will benefit tremendously from the immediate economic boost that comes with 20,000 high-paying construction jobs, as well as the long-term benefit of being able to quickly and inexpensively travel to and from the LA basin." 

      

    Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford: “This revised Business Plan is really good news and emphasizes what we’ve been saying all along – Palmdale is the lynchpin to moving this project forward and finding early operational success.  This new plan is exciting and we in the Antelope Valley are ready to make high-speed rail happen as quickly as possible.” 

      

    Orange County Business Council President/CEO Lucy Dunn: It appears the Authority has put together a common sense plan that speaks directly to our business leaders.  It’s leaner, smarter, and will drive development of the system more efficiently.  This is good work that will appeal to a broader constituency and propel the project forward.”   

      

    Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Toebben: “This new plan will build the new system faster and in a manner that’s better for local businesses.  This early investment program will create immediate, manageable contracts that will put our local construction firms to work.  This new development is well thought out.  It is good for the economy and good for the citizens of California – that’s a win-win.”  

      

    Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Al Smith: “High speed rail is the only thing currently on the horizon that brings tangible jobs to the million citizens of Fresno County. We deserve that opportunity, the Valley deserves that opportunity and the whole state deserves the opportunity.” 


    San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Jim Lazarus:
    “With high-speed rail, the Bay Area is given the opportunity to jump-start long planned regional transit improvements. High-speed rail dollars are already funding construction of the San Francisco’s new TransBay Transit Center. These same sources can fund Caltrain electrification and the already approved underground rail extension to First and Mission Streets. In addition to improving the Bay Area’s transportation infrastructure, this construction activity will boost our economy when we need it most and provide sustainable growth for decades to come.”  

      

    San Mateo Economic Development Association President and CEO Rosanne Foust: “When you consider the number of startup companies springing up in the Caltrain Corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, it becomes apparent that we must invest in the corridor if we are to maintain the economic vitality of our region and state." 

      

    Bay Area Council CEO & President Jim Wunderman: “High speed rail can be an economic game changer for California and the Bay Area, where it will bring badly needed upgrades to this region’s important Caltrain commuter rail service. High speed rail will create fast, efficient connections among our state’s major economic centers and link California to the 21st Century in a way that will keep us economically competitive with the rest of the world. There are many risks, which we believe the High Speed Rail Authority and Governor Brown take very seriously and are working hard to address. But the risk to California’s future of not moving forward is greater.” 

      

    Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino: "High-Speed Rail is the right move for California’s mobility and economy. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group applauds the decision to embrace a ‘blended approach’ for HSR and Caltrain along the Peninsula, as maintaining and improving the Caltrain commuter rail system is a high priority for our 365-member companies. A project of this scale will never be ready to everyone’s satisfaction, and delaying the project just puts off - and increases - the cost to us and to future generations." 

      

    San Francisco International Airport Director John Martin: "San Francisco International Airport is a strong supporter of high speed rail in California. Passenger traffic at SFO is expected to grow to 50 million passengers by 2025. Currently, the Los Angeles Basin is the destination for 15% of the flights from SFO and 36% of flights from Oakland and San Jose. High speed rail will reduce the need for short-haul commuter flights and provide greater ability for SFO to accommodate international and long-haul domestic flights." 

      

    Fresno County Economic Development Corporation President & CEO LeeAnn Eager: "High speed rail will allow valley businesses to connect to northern and southern California in a way that has never been possible before. We will no longer be this island in the middle of the state.  It will be much easier to attract national and international companies to the central valley once we have this connectivity with the rest if the state.  This system is an economic developer’s dream." 

      

    Californians for High Speed Rail Co-Founder and Executive Director Daniel Krause: “The California High-Speed Rail project is absolutely essential to California’s future, from providing desperately needed transportation capacity to clean our air, to reducing congestion and stimulating economic activity.  While opponents have been running a relentless campaign of fear, doubt and uncertainty to give the impression the project is too risky, in fact, there is far more risk in not moving forward. It will cost much more to expand airports and freeways to create the same amount of transportation capacity. Additionally, borrowing costs will be offset by the requirement that any Prop 1A used must be matched by non-state source of funds, injecting billions of outside dollars into our state’s economy.  It is time to set the record straight – high-speed rail is truly the low-risk alternative.” 

      

    California Alliance for Jobs Executive Director Jim Earp: “The high-speed rail project is one of those transformative projects that will have as much of an impact on California and its economy as the railroads and the State Water Project. It will produce thousands of jobs, boost the economy, provide a greener and faster mode of transportation and will help California meet its growing transportation needs.” 

      

    California Labor Federation Treasurer Art Pulaski:  “With the release of today’s new business plan, Gov. Brown and the High-Speed Rail Authority offer a viable, innovative blueprint to realizing a 21st century California infrastructure. The Authority’s plan to connect the Central Valley and Los Angeles basin in the first phase of high-speed rail construction makes perfect sense financially and operationally. By saving tens of billions of dollars through the use of existing commuter rail lines, the Authority’s new plan addresses funding challenges while giving Californians a realistic, transparent roadmap to making the vision of high-speed rail a reality.” 

      

    Los Angeles/Orange County Building & Construction Trades Executive-Secretary Robbie Hunter: “This plan will propel the high-speed rail project forward while going back to basics – let’s put people to work to build much-needed transportation networks and let’s do it fast.  As a country, we did it with the transcontinental railroad, we did it with the highway system, and now we’re doing it with high-speed rail.  This is how we’ve built this country, and right now we have men and women who are ready to get the job done. 

      

    Santa Clara & San Benito Counties Building & Construction Trades Council CEO Neil Struthers: “Our forefathers had the vision and wisdom to invest in our infrastructures at critical points in our state and nation’s history. They demonstrated vision during our most economically challenging times, and they built vital infrastructure like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge and BART. Today, we can’t imagine the Bay Area transportation system without them. The high-speed rail system is no different. Not only will it fundamentally change mobility and travel in California and the Bay Area, it will create thousands of jobs.” 

      

    San Mateo Building & Construction Trades Council Business Manager Bill Nack: “We need high speed rail. It is a smart investment in California’s future. We need it to accommodate our growing population. We need it to reduce congestion. We need it to help clean our air. We need it to create jobs and economic activity. High speed rail also will be more cost effective than building more roads and airports to move the same number of people. High-speed rail is a smart, visionary investment and it should go forward.” 

      

    Laborers Local 270 Business Manager Jim Homer: “High speed rail is the most ambitious project California has embarked on in many years. It’s cost-effective, it will bring our state thousands of jobs, enduring economic benefits and environmental and social benefits. We can’t stop now.” 

      

    Operating Engineers Local 3 Political Director Mark Kyle: “High speed rail is a project we need in California. We need the rail line for mobility and to accommodate our growing population, but we also need the jobs that will come with constructing it. With unemployment in the construction trades hovering near 20 percent, the cost of doing nothing far outweighs the investment in this much-needed project.” 

      

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

LOS ANGELES, April 2 (Xinhua) -- California decided on Monday to cut 30 billion U.S. dollars for the first and only high-speed rail line in the United States in an attempt to make headways for the project, but its fate still remains uncertain.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority said the revised business plan for the project to reduce the cost to 68.4 billion dollars from the 98.5 billion dollars estimated in last November.

The proposal saves money by upgrading existing commuter and freight lines in some areas, rather than build new track, and counts on funds from California's new program selling pollution credits, according to the new business plan.

California is the only U.S. state working to build bullet-trains running as fast as 220 miles (354 km) an hour, after the U.S. Congress cut off 2012 funds for such projects.

"We have confidence in this plan, and in fact we are excited about this plan," Dan Richard, the authority's chairman, told reporters in Fresno. "This system will not only bring high-speed rail to California, but it will bring high-speed rail to America."

According to the new plan, the first high-speed rail in the country will still be built from San Francisco to Los Angeles in California, but it would route the main track down the backbone of the state from Merced, about 120 miles south of Sacramento, California's capital, to the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles.

It would then connect to Los Angeles and San Francisco by modifying existing commuter and freight lines to handle high-speed trains.

Even trimming the bill by 30 billion dollars, the price tag is still almost double what voters were told it would cost when they approved bonds for the project in 2008.

California State Auditor Elaine Howle criticized the high-speed rail plan in January as lacking specifics about how the state might come up with the money.

The new plan has not calmed down the opposition. State Republicans say there's a new Lemon Law and the new transportation dud is California's High-Speed Rail project.

They said the original price tag has tripled, operating costs are being ignored, and the ridership study is problematic.

On the federal level, the U.S. Congress and the White House are headed for another head-on collision over the high-speed rail project.

In February, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reiterated President Barack Obama's strong support, but neither side appears ready to steer clear this election year, particularly in differences concerning California.

LaHood insisted that the high-speed rail project will continue and will not go back.

Florida, Wisconsin and other states have turned down federal funding for high-speed railways, but California has picked up 3.6 billion dollars for its plan. However, congressional Republicans have taken special aim at the California proposal.

The initial plan in California calls for a 220-mph line between Bakersfield and Merced, and opponents claimed this is not a populated area and even it is built, there are few riders.

California earlier said it would start construction under the initial plan in September, but officials now said construction probably won't begin until at least early next year. Some state legislators have called for a new vote for California voters to decide whether the project will continue.

Those legislators said voters would decide in their second vote whether they would take away the bond money Californians approved for the project four years ago.

 

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

USA: The California High Speed Rail Authority released a third substantially-revised business plan on April 2, covering construction of an initial 480 route-km of dedicated high speed tracks between Merced and the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles. CHSRA's original vision of a 1 100 km network running from Sacramento in the north of the state to Anaheim in the south has now been scaled back to save $30bn from the previous projected capital cost of $98·5bn.  Much of this saving comes from a decision to shelve plans to build dedicated tracks for high speed services to reach central Los Angeles and San Francisco. Instead, the existing Metrolink and Amtrak corridor between the San Fernando Valley and Anaheim and the Caltrain route from San Jose to San Francisco will be electrified and substantially upgraded at a cost of $2bn to allow shared running between high speed and commuter rail trains. Last month a memorandum of understanding for electrification and the installation of PTC on the Caltrain route was agreed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, five Bay Area transport agencies, two municipalities and CHSRA. The business plan calls for Caltrain electrification to be completed by 2020. Within a budget of $68·4bn, CAHSRA hopes to start construction on an 'initial operating segment' in the Central Valley by early next year with a view to launching commercial services by 2023. Through services giving a 'one seat ride' over the 832 km from Anaheim via Los Angeles to San Francisco would start in 2029.  CAHSRA confirmed that $6bn in funding is already in place to start construction, whilst 'cap and trade funds' would be used to eliminate the need for state or federal support to complete the initial section of route. 

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

CHSR revises business plan, cost estimate now at $68.4 billion


Tuesday, April 03, 2012


The California High-Speed Rail Authority revised its Business Plan to launch high-speed rail service, capable of traveling 220 miles-per-hour, from Merced to the San Fernando Valley, within 10 years.

"In 10 years, Californians will be able to travel through the Central Valley and into the Los Angeles Basin in half the time it takes to drive," said California Governor Edmund Brown Jr. "This revised plan is bold, practical and puts California out in front once again."

"Our revised plan makes high-speed rail better, faster and cheaper," High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard told a news conference at the Southern Pacific Building in Fresno, Calif. "Drawing on hundreds of public comments, as well as the expertise of our technical staff, we were able to refine our thinking and improve the plan enormously. The revised plan will enhance local rail service immediately and, in the long-term, cut total project costs by $30 billion."

Under the revised 2012 Business Plan, construction begins this year on the 300-mile Initial Operating Section, stretching from Merced to the San Fernando Valley. This new plan also improves the safety and efficiency of existing urban rail systems. These improvements will bring immediate benefits to commuters and ultimately allow the integration of local systems with high-speed rail. The key changes to this revised business plan include:

· Constructing 300 miles of electrified rail from Merced to San Fernando Valley in 10 years
· Improving existing rail service in the Bay Area and Los Angeles regions to prepare those systems for high-speed rail service
· Cutting $30 billion in costs, through the blended approach, cost savings and inflation assumptions
· The potential to access cap & trade funds as a backstop to federal funding.

"Thanks to the leadership of Governor Jerry Brown and High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard, the new plan will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and deliver the economic benefits of high-speed rail faster and more affordably," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said.

Construction of the entire 520-mile rail system will finish in 2028, with service to begin in 2029. This improved system will cost $68.4 billion in year-of-expenditure dollars, a $30-billion reduction over the previous plan. Six billion dollars in funding has already been identified for the first segment of the Initial Operating Section, including $3.3 billion in federal funding and $2.7 billion in voter-approved Proposition 1A bond proceeds. Cap and trade funds are also available as a backstop against federal and local support to complete the initial operating section. No operating subsidy will be required.

"The California High-Speed Rail project is absolutely essential to California's future, from providing desperately needed transportation capacity to clean our air, to reducing congestion and stimulating economic activity," said Californians for High Speed Rail Co-Founder and Executive Director Daniel Krause. "While opponents have been running a relentless campaign of fear, doubt and uncertainty to give the impression the project is too risky, in fact, there is far more risk in not moving forward. It will cost much more to expand airports and freeways to create the same amount of transportation capacity. Additionally, borrowing costs will be offset by the requirement that any Prop 1A used must be matched by non-state source of funds, injecting billions of outside dollars into our state's economy. It is time to set the record straight, high-speed rail is truly the low-risk alternative."

The revised business plan must be approved by the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors, who will meet in San Francisco on April 12.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Legislators asked for changes in California High-Speed Rail Authority plans to build a bullet train system.
The authority has made them. In a revised plan, released Monday, the authority proposes to expand the length of the first segment of the high-speed rail backbone – from 130 miles to 300 miles. That would provide a fully electrified high-speed rail operating system from Merced to Burbank within 10 years, with further expansions beyond that.
So much for the project being a "train to nowhere."
From Merced to Burbank, no longer would passenger trains, like Amtrak's San Joaquin, have to share travel with BNSF or Union Pacific freight lines – which have a maximum speed of 79 miles per hour.
This dedicated tracking not only would improve passenger service, it would free up freight capacity south of Merced. And no longer would passengers have to take a bus from Bakersfield to Burbank – because the only rail line is a busy, slow Union Pacific freight line over the Tehachapi Mountains. High-speed rail would have its own tracks.
In that first phase, the system also would connect, through a "blended system" to existing rail lines – making the cost to build the larger network a lot cheaper. Riders would jump off high-speed rail at Burbank and on to Metrolink to get to Los Angeles. As High-Speed Rail Authority chairman Dan Richard said, "That beats the hell out of the car trip" – and with future improvements would beat airplane travel.
In our region, passengers would see improvements in Amtrak's San Joaquin rail service between Sacramento and Merced – improving speeds from 79 mph to 125 mph. Passengers from the Sacramento region would be able to get to greater Los Angeles with a single transfer, cutting travel time from what is now almost eight hours to just over five hours – competitive with car travel.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, have been stalwart in their support of high-speed rail. Yet all we continue to hear from San Francisco Peninsula legislators – especially Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto – is continued negativity.
The Peninsula legislators and other doubters see little impetus to approve Gov. Jerry Brown's request to appropriate $2.7 billion in rail bonds in this budget cycle – by June 15 – so construction of the first phase can get under way. If lawmakers act, the state would get $3.5 billion in federal money.
At this stage, when the California High-Speed Rail Authority has done yeoman work in trying to address legitimate concerns, the question really is whether the Peninsula really wants high-speed rail at all.
If it doesn't, the high-speed rail authority should stop wasting time trying to provide bullet train service to a region that doesn't want it, and isn't willing to fight for it. A better alternative would be to send high-speed rail straight up the Valley from Merced to Sacramento in the first phase – and let Bay Area folks take the Capitol Corridor if they want to get on the high-speed rail section from the Central Valley to Los Angeles.
The longer California legislators hem and haw, the more expensive and more difficult the project gets. This is a time for action, not more delays.
The revised proposal is in keeping with how European and Asian countries have built high-speed rail – with a mix of dedicated high-speed rail track and improved conventional rail lines in urban areas – adding more high-speed rail lines incrementally, as funding becomes available.
Absolute funding certainty just is not realistic with projects of this size and duration. Brown's latest proposal to use money from the auction of air-pollution credits – the state's "cap-and-trade" program – is no more certain than other funding sources.
What is certain is that a high-speed rail system won't all be built all at once.
As Richard asked, "Did voters think the 800-mile system would open on Day 1?" Of course not. Just like Interstate 5, high-speed rail will happen over time – if Steinberg and Pérez can persuade Peninsula lawmakers to get on board. The budget clock is ticking.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/03/4385921/high-speed-rail-gets-back-on-a.html#storylink=cpy

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

You would think that a plan to build high speed rail that is $30 billion cheaper than the previous iteration and provides desperately needed post-oil travel between California’s metropolitan areas sooner would be one that HSR critics would embrace.

Instead, the usual suspects are lining up to attack Governor Jerry Brown’s revisions to the high speed rail project – even those whose ideas are the core underpinnings of the proposal:

“We are a matter of weeks away from various budget deadlines,” state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said Saturday. “When the cost estimates are up and down and up and down by orders of magnitude here, I think folks are going to want to make sure we spend some time to understand how reliable are these figures, and what’s the basis for the new estimate.”

Simitian, chairman of the budget subcommittee considering high-speed rail, said the authority “seems to have been listening and making an effort to be responsive.”

But the Legislature, he said, is unlikely to appropriate funding as quickly as Brown hopes.

“I think we’re going to have to look past the June 15 budget adoption date,” he said.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said legislative approval of the plan on Brown’s time frame would require a “heroic effort.”

“It’s the biggest capital project in the history of the state, and it should be done properly,” he said. “Given that the numbers have bounced around so much, it’s a lot to ask.”

In launching these attacks, these supposed critics are revealing themselves to in fact be opponents of high speed rail. If they wanted simply to improve the project, they’d be praising the effort and pledging to hammer out the details. But by instead denouncing the plan, they’re tipping their hand and showing the public that their actual goal is to kill high speed rail.

In fact, as Californians For High Speed Rail Executive Director Daniel Krause pointed out, the governor’s plan includes things Simitian helped create – namely, the blended plan that allows trains to serve LA and SF more quickly by using existing tracks:

“A core tenet of this plan – the blending of HSR and commuter rail – was an idea generated by Senator Simitian, along with Assemblymember Rich Gordon, and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo to reduce costs and impacts. As a result, the plan is much better because of this dialogue.

“Given the months of dialogue and negotiation with lawmakers, we are baffled by recent statements by Senators Joe Simitian and Mark DeSaulnier’s indicating a desire to delay the decision to fund HSR in the state budget.

“While certainly the details of the plan need to be reviewed, we strongly oppose any attempts to delay the HSR funding vote by Senators Simitian and DeSaulnier. These Senators have a deep knowledge of this plan as they helped to craft it. Pleading ignorance about a plan they have helped to create gives the impression they are playing politics with California’s future. We urge them to move forward without delay.”

Krause is right to argue that Simitian and DeSaulnier are working to undermine the project by using these delaying tactics. And they’re also making it clear that their intention isn’t to improve the project but to undercut it.

That’s not the attitude that California legislators ought to be taking. High speed rail is an important part of California’s transportation future. If Senators Simitian and DeSaulnier see ways it can be improved, they ought to work collaboratively to pursue those changes, just as Simitian did with his blended plan. But instead these two are signaling they might join the Tea Party Republicans in dealing President Barack Obama a big political blow in an election year by trying to kill the high speed rail project.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

April 03--Several Los Angeles leaders backed a revised business plan released Monday by the agency overseeing California's ambitious high-speed rail effort, saying it lowers costs and speeds construction while bringing jobs and world-class transit to the region.

By embracing a "blended" approach, the plan shaves $30 billion off the cost by using some tracks that now carry regional passenger lines rather than building new ones exclusively for the bullet train.

"High-speed rail is the natural extension of the transportation network we are building in Southern California," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "When it comes to transportation infrastructure, connectivity is key."

If the plan is approved, construction would begin this year on a 300-mile stretch of electrified rail connecting Merced in the Central Valley to the San Fernando Valley within 10 years. An earlier draft included only a 130-mile portion of that.

Eventually, the line would extend from Southern California, through several cities in the Central Valley, to the Bay Area.

Even with the $30-billion reduction, the projected $68.4-billion effort is $25 billion more than the original price tag.

Officials with the California High-Speed Rail Authority said Monday that construction of the entire 520-mile system would be completed in 2028. It would open to the public in 2029.

Supporters of the revised plan included Gary Toebben, president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and union groups that have long backed building a high-speed rail system because of the jobs it would provide.

"This plan will propel the high-speed rail project forward while going back to basics -- let's put people to work to build much-needed transportation networks, and let's do it fast," said Robbie Hunter of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building & Construction Trades Council.

Other related measures the authority is proposing call for about $2 billion to upgrade existing rail lines into Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

But some critics say the proposed system is not the one voters were promised when they approved $9 billion to get the project started four years ago.

"This looks nothing like what the people of California were promised in 2008, when the rail authority claimed that tickets would cost $50, Sacramento and San Diego would be included and the private sector would fund much of the project," said state Sen. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale).

"This is one bait-and-switch that cash-strapped Californians simply can't afford," he said.

One of the project's initial proponents took issue with plans to share tracks with commuter trains.

"I call it the great train robbery," said Quentin Kopp, a former state senator and rail authority board member. "Because they plan, if they can get away with it, to take money out of high-speed rail and bestow it on to commuter rail systems," he said.

"This isn't high-speed rail," Kopp said, "High-speed rail runs on dedicated tracks."

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

California High Speed Rail Authority listens,releases cost-effective new business plan

Today's release of the revised California high speed rail business plan is a victory for future passengers; it's a victory for the State of California; and it's a victory for the nation. But it's also a victory for the kind of inclusive planning and development process that Americans expect, and I hope it will serve as a powerful example for other corridors.

When the California High Speed Rail Authority released its initial plan last fall, stakeholders and citizens voiced their concerns--loud and clear. Thankfully, Governor Brown put in place leadership at the California High Speed Rail Authority that listened to Californians.  After 296 community meetings and forums, today's plan reflects those concerns, and California --and American-- high-speed rail will be stronger as a result.

After listening carefully to everyone involved, the California High Speed Rail Authority today offered a new plan that lays out a faster, better, and more cost-effective path to building the high-speed rail system that is so critical to California’s economic future.

Thanks to the leadership of Governor Jerry Brown and High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard, the new plan will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and deliver the economic benefits of high-speed rail faster and more affordably.  And by combining existing assets in the Bay Area and LA Basin with new construction along other parts of the line, the new plan ensures that construction and operating costs for the first segment of the project are fully paid for while lowering the cost of the entire system by $30 billion dollars.

This plan projects a high-speed rail spine running north-south from Merced to the San Fernando Valley. Connections from this spine into core cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco will now rely on existing rights-of-way and infrastructure, and that fundamental change makes these segments significantly less expensive than originally proposed by the rail authority.

The Central Valley line will operate over relatively flat terrain, making possible average speeds that rival any other rail systems in the world.  The revitalized rail manufacturing this Administration's investments have supported will have workers busy building track and trains that demonstrate the American rail industry’s technological and operational capabilities--and get passengers where they're going even faster.


FRA Deputy Administrator Karen Hedlund at the announcement of the revised business plan

That's critical in a state where population will grow by 20 million in less than 40 years, where congestion already robs the state’s economy of $18.7 billion every year, and where the short-haul air travel market is the nation’s most crowded and the airports are the nation's most delayed.

Plus, putting men and women to work upgrading the infrastructure on existing commuter rail lines in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas will add good jobs in these densely populated regions.  Metrolink and Caltrain commuters will also benefit from safety, speed, and reliability improvements.

Three years ago, the President declared a bold vision for America.  The goal is clear: to connect 80 percent of Americans to a high speed rail network over the next twenty-five years. 

And today we are making progress on that vision.  As Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator Karen Hedlund said, "This plan is a roadmap for the future of California, and it is right in line with the vision of President Obama."

California is well on its way to fulfilling its part of this goal, and today's revised plan moves the Golden State one step closer.  We look forward to working with the California High Speed Rail Authority to make this plan a reality.

 

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