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By Paul Losch

About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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Rail CEO pledges transparency, accountability

Uploaded: Oct 14, 2010
California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelef van Ark vowed this week to keep updating state legislators about the progress of the high-speed rail, even if the reports aren't tied to funding for the controversial mega-project. Related story:
Governor vetoes rail 'accountability' stick

Read the full story here http://www.PaloAltoOnline.com/news/show_story.php?id=18616 posted Thursday, October 14, 2010, 3:44 PM
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Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of ,
on Oct 14, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Great that we have someone with experience in HSR, and pledges transparency and accountability.

The Elephant in the Room? This HSR project makes no sense.

If this guy is really worth his salt, he will eventually recommend that this particular concept be ended.

Posted by Howard, a resident of ,
on Oct 14, 2010 at 8:28 pm

To the contrary, HSR is at least 50 years overdue, and it is going to happen -- will ye; nill ye.

Posted by Lisa, a resident of ,
on Oct 15, 2010 at 12:30 am

High-Speed Rail is so 20th century in both thinking and technology.

Our 21st century is all about fiber optics. Fiber moves much more information far faster for a fraction of the cost of HSR.

Our state and nation should be investing in fiber rather than HSR.

Posted by Anon, a resident of ,
on Oct 15, 2010 at 8:29 am

Paul Losch wrote:

"The Elephant in the Room? This HSR project makes no sense."

"If this guy is really worth his salt, he will eventually recommend that this particular concept be ended."

Hang on there. Although it is easy to argue that this particular project is heavily flawed, that doesn't mean that HSR in general is a bad idea. Many of us have seen HSR work very well in other countries. This particular project is making two big mistakes:
1) Making downtown SF a required starting place, combined with
2) Insisting on ultra-high-speed for the entire length.
These two things combined will greatly increase the cost, and the local impact. In France, for example, the TGV train that I rode started out at a moderate speed where it had to, and then, once it reached the dedicated, wide-open, specially-built tracks, really opened up. In Europe, on some high-speed routes, several smaller, slower trains are combined at a junction (we could imagine, here, south of San Jose), into a larger, high-speed train. Also, they seem to have lost sight of the fact that the competition, here, is Southwest Airlines -- they need to compete economically and schedule-wise with Southwest-- door-to-door for the traveler. And, taxpayers clearly don't mind paying the up-front capital costs, but, as we have seen, they will greatly resent paying large, ongoing subsidies to pay for high labor-related operating costs.

So, yes, there are huge challenges, but, there are also large benefits. Airport capacity is limited, and the cost of building new near-city capacity is ruinous also. Short shuttle flights in smaller aircraft (i.e. 737) are not nearly as fuel efficient as long flights in larger, next-generation aircraft (e.g. 787). Fuel costs will go up dramatically again once the worldwide economy perks up. So, there is a good reason to carry through with some kind of HSR. We just need to get it right.

Posted by chris, a resident of ,
on Oct 15, 2010 at 12:06 pm


You are wrong. HSR will not be traveling at ultra-high speed on the Peninsula. That knocks out your 2 objections

Posted by ODB, a resident of ,
on Oct 15, 2010 at 8:20 pm

If you slow down HSR too much, it will make more sense to drive Interstate 5 and have the use of your car at your destination.

WRT fuel, how will those electric trains get their power? For all practical purposes, the entire system will have to be powered 24/7 whether trains are running or not.

Posted by chris,, a resident of ,
on Oct 15, 2010 at 10:51 pm


HSR will be going full speed south of San Jose.

Your comment about electrification makes no sense. If you are an expert, you should be able to explain your theory.

Posted by 24/7 power, a resident of ,
on Oct 16, 2010 at 5:30 am

It's a good question. Has the "agency" analyzed what the power requirements are (along the line, at the stations, security and safety measures, etc.) outside of that required to move the trains, and the same while trains are not running?

A document including this, along with an objective EIR (as opposed to one written with an agenda), would help show whether or not the train will in fact reduce global warming impacts, or future weather volatility impacts, or at least the impact on our energy needs.

Posted by ODB, a resident of ,
on Oct 16, 2010 at 10:24 pm

I have seen nothing which describes how HSR will be powered despite having asked the question here several times. I haven't seen which generating facilities will be used, how the power will be distributed, how much power will be consumed per day/week/month/year. If anyone has seen this information, please post a link.

Posted by Clem, a resident of ,
on Oct 17, 2010 at 8:09 pm

It's called a 'grid' and it already exists. The way electricity works is that it is consumed essentially the moment it is produced, with the grid storing relatively little energy. When a train is not in operation, it draws no power from the grid. Effects of the HSR project on the grid are discussed in some detail in chapter 3.5 of the EIR. For all the railing about the EIR that goes on around here, the discussion might be more informed if some of you actually took the time to read it.

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