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Old 08-08-2022, 11:56 AM
 
15,827 posts, read 14,468,374 times
Reputation: 11907

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The fact that it isn't built already, you consider building it now as remedial is irrelevant. The question is, does it justify it's cost, both to construct, and to subsidize it's operation (because even on an operating basis, it's likely to be a money losing pig.) I can't see how the answer to that question is anything but no.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OyCrumbler View Post
It's pretty common to hear responses like this. It's not unique and unfortunately it's ubiquitous enough to actually have negative ramifications for infrastructure projects in the US.

My comment was that it's incredible this thing does not already exist. The distance, the route, the existing travel patterns, etc. when you look at the economics and engineering of high speed rail systems in multiple parts of the world in comparison are what makes it seem so incredible that this doesn't already exist. The criticism of it currently not existing does align with what you're saying and acknowledges it's terrible that it's been this costly and has taken this long given that there's an obvious business case for this and the costs of such a high-speed rail system in other developed countries of this kind of complexity, stations and length are substantially lower and built out faster.

However, it's possible to acknowledge that and understand that scrapping it if that means not having high-speed rail between the two is not a good idea since this is an ideal route for high speed rail. It does not change that a high speed rail line between SF and LA is technically feasible, and should be the economically most sensible thing. Scrapping the whole idea then would be foolish. Rather, it would seem that reforms in the process are necessary. A reset in terms of how it's done or reforming the ease at which it can be impeded thus driving up timelines and spending is pretty insane and is something that the US overall needs to address. A massive part of the issue with its ballooning costs and expanding timelines hasn't been about the actual idea, engineering, or material and labor needs of it, but the constant impediments put forward by NIMBYs, often well-funded NIMBYS, as well as bad faith politicians tossing in impediments that jack up the price and expand the timeline *so* that they can point to its budget and timeline. Turning popular opinion away from the absurdity of both how it works as it is now or the absurd idea that this shouldn't be done at all should also be pushed in order to direct attention towards what needs to be fixed and to admonish the people and parties that continually impede (and thus drive up the costs) of the project.

You also have something wrong there with the cities served. It's not just SF and LA. It's a train, so it's pretty easy to make stops along the way. SF and LA are the projected main event, but riding end to end is not how passenger ridership usually works. SF (and SJ as well) and LA are certainly by far going to be the most popular stations and have the greatest density, but a lot of that popularity is going to be back and forth traffic on the points that are going to and from one of those two major nodes and one of the smaller Central Valley nodes. Remember, those nodes in California aren't bereft of people like a Great Plains state--they still include million people metropolitan areas that are still seeing growth. These places are likely to and engender traffic going to and from one of the larger nodes and so the actual ridership is going to be a cumulative of every single pair combination within the line which is a lot. You also should realize that the intention was for there to be other phases and with both extensions and spurs that would add more population and trip pairs to places like Sacramento, San Diego, and Las Vegas while reusing much of the already created infrastructure and systems.

I do think the economics and engineering for short haul passenger flight in electric planes is promising and can likely reach broad commercialization for these sorts of routes within the next two to few decades if the rate of battery improvements as they've happened for the last several decades with about 9 to 14 years between doubling of energy density continue again within the next few decades. However, it's also clearly not a reasonable replacement for a while and would almost certainly never be more sustainable than electric rail due to the massive needs of having to constantly work against the gravity vector. This is pretty apparently the case even as you extrapolate out further energy density improvements to batteries.

Recall that Eviation's Alice line of electric planes that they're prototyping, as just a twin-engine 9-seater at best, requires 820 kWh of battery capacity using pretty pricey cathode chemistry since it needs the highest energy density commercially available batteries for its targeted 440 nautical mile range even after extensive, and very expensive lightweighting.The highly trafficked route between just the two LA/SF endpoints, and remember, a train does a lot more than endpoints, numbers over 2 million passengers a year. These planes have to recharge and slots at airports that are heavily trafficked are expensive per time (and building more airports, partially because of CEQA and NIMBYs, for a slew of different reasons is an extremely time consuming and thus costly endeavor) so you likely need to do something like battery swapping which would then require you to have even more capacity deployed. This means that the kind of battery capacity necessary to service these kinds of passenger numbers is absolutely astounding and even at the exponential increase of battery capacity production we've seen and should probably expect to continue at least for the near future, this would mean a single route taking up a pretty large proportion of upcoming battery capacity pipeline for a pretty long time that would probably be better for other purposes (other EVs like road and rail vehicles, nautical vehicles, other planes in other parts of the world, stationary storage, random devices, etc.) aside from servicing the number of passengers on this route. On top of that, keep in mind that the train, like other road vehicles, will have gravity offset by the normal force from contact with the ground so the operating expenses of the train are likely to be far lower than that of these many electric airplanes.

I would like to see a better path forward though. I think California needs to greatly reform CEQA, and not just for this project, so it can't be rapidly wielded to block any project of any scale (this thing is one of the ultimate NIMBY tools and has been yielded incredibly well by opponents of high sped rail). I also think California should do some horse-trading on the route--they should go directly through to Bakersfield rather than the jog to Palmdale. The horsetrade Palmdale should get though is a concurrent and faster-moving timeline project that upgrades the current Metrolink link through the San Fernando Valley and to Los Angeles Union Station and beyond to go faster, and run more frequently with cheaper operating costs. I think that can make a horse trade of not being on the HSR line a lot more palatable and it's a wine for everyone. Given that jog is still a while away from serious construction, I think there's still a good chance and a good reason to make that happen. If they can't do that, it's not all bad as there's arguably a case for that Antelope Valley jog to be useful as part of getting to Las Vegas.





Yea, it's awful!
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Old 08-08-2022, 08:31 PM
 
Location: In the heights
37,127 posts, read 39,357,090 times
Reputation: 21212
Quote:
Originally Posted by BBMW View Post
The fact that it isn't built already, you consider building it now as remedial is irrelevant. The question is, does it justify it's cost, both to construct, and to subsidize it's operation (because even on an operating basis, it's likely to be a money losing pig.) I can't see how the answer to that question is anything but no.
Yes, it likely does justify its cost given how high speed rail projects have gone in the past and the likely ridership it will have in regards to its emissions benefits and economic impact once in operation. However, that doesn't mean there shouldn't be oversight to both reduce the costs as well as push for overhauling the way large scale capital construction projects are done in California specifically and the US as a whole. There are some signs of improvement though as CP4 has progressed a lot better than earlier awarded segments especially CP1 (which Tutor Perini was involved with). It'll definitely not be worth the cost though if it never gets completed.

I think there's probably a pretty strong lack of understanding on your part of what the project is and how it compares to other modes of travel given what you suggested as an alternative and that you seemed to think this only connects two cities.

Last edited by OyCrumbler; 08-08-2022 at 09:45 PM..
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Old 08-10-2022, 11:11 AM
 
15,827 posts, read 14,468,374 times
Reputation: 11907
When this boondoggle was first proposed, it was budgeted at $33 billion. The budget has now ballooned to $113 billon. And it's not going to be complete until 2033. Like the budget, this is likely to keep slipping. By the time it's actually complete, if that ever actually happens, the budget is likely to double again, and the completion (full SF - LA route) will likely be in the late 2030s - early 2040s.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/06/...-is-exploding/

And when the did the alternative methods analysis, it was probably based on the original, laughable budget numbers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OyCrumbler View Post
Yes, it likely does justify its cost given how high speed rail projects have gone in the past and the likely ridership it will have in regards to its emissions benefits and economic impact once in operation. However, that doesn't mean there shouldn't be oversight to both reduce the costs as well as push for overhauling the way large scale capital construction projects are done in California specifically and the US as a whole. There are some signs of improvement though as CP4 has progressed a lot better than earlier awarded segments especially CP1 (which Tutor Perini was involved with). It'll definitely not be worth the cost though if it never gets completed.

I think there's probably a pretty strong lack of understanding on your part of what the project is and how it compares to other modes of travel given what you suggested as an alternative and that you seemed to think this only connects two cities.

Last edited by BBMW; 08-10-2022 at 11:21 AM..
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Old 08-12-2022, 09:28 AM
 
Location: In the heights
37,127 posts, read 39,357,090 times
Reputation: 21212
Quote:
Originally Posted by BBMW View Post
When this boondoggle was first proposed, it was budgeted at $33 billion. The budget has now ballooned to $113 billon. And it's not going to be complete until 2033. Like the budget, this is likely to keep slipping. By the time it's actually complete, if that ever actually happens, the budget is likely to double again, and the completion (full SF - LA route) will likely be in the late 2030s - early 2040s.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/06/...-is-exploding/

And when the did the alternative methods analysis, it was probably based on the original, laughable budget numbers.
Yea, they screwed up on the initial budgeting which was oddly low for a US capital construction project of this scale. There's a question of whether they knew and to what extent, this was overly optimistic at the time.

And yea, when they did the alternative budgets they were using prices of the time and with likely the same expectations of being able to get things done--which means that their alternative proposals for how much additional airport and highway costs were also woefully low. Even with that in mind, the current budget is still well under the budget for those alternatives *at the time*.

I think one thing that doesn't seem to be getting through here is that large capital construction projects in the US in general are expensive and much more so than other developed countries even as you do cost of living adjustments. This applies to more than just rail. Other things that are not quite getting through is that the capacity increase for the amount of land it takes for rail is massive as rail is very efficient compared to that for the same capacity increase using airlines and roads as well as far lower operating costs.
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Old 08-13-2022, 01:39 PM
 
2,502 posts, read 1,294,427 times
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I heard railroad tracks have been dismantled in San Francisco.
That's why you can't use even Amtrak to travel from LA to SF.

Amtrak trains from LA to San Diego are full these season. You can even travel to Mexico using SD trolleys.
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Old 08-14-2022, 09:46 PM
 
158 posts, read 159,454 times
Reputation: 277
Quote:
Originally Posted by OyCrumbler View Post




Yea, it's awful!
Not for me. It’s tiring but I leave normally 6:30-7:30am flight back home by 9pm. Enough time to get all work done I need. Very convenient for me at least.
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Old 08-15-2022, 08:35 PM
 
15,827 posts, read 14,468,374 times
Reputation: 11907
You're assuming the incorrect budgetting didn't have some degree of intent, that the HSR wasn't intentionally underestimated, and the alternatives overestimated. Given that the politicians driving the project knew which way they wanted to go from the outset, that isn't a safe assumption.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OyCrumbler View Post
Yea, they screwed up on the initial budgeting which was oddly low for a US capital construction project of this scale. There's a question of whether they knew and to what extent, this was overly optimistic at the time.

And yea, when they did the alternative budgets they were using prices of the time and with likely the same expectations of being able to get things done--which means that their alternative proposals for how much additional airport and highway costs were also woefully low. Even with that in mind, the current budget is still well under the budget for those alternatives *at the time*.

I think one thing that doesn't seem to be getting through here is that large capital construction projects in the US in general are expensive and much more so than other developed countries even as you do cost of living adjustments. This applies to more than just rail. Other things that are not quite getting through is that the capacity increase for the amount of land it takes for rail is massive as rail is very efficient compared to that for the same capacity increase using airlines and roads as well as far lower operating costs.
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Old 08-16-2022, 11:07 AM
 
2 posts, read 1,673 times
Reputation: 10
does anyone know, why did they do it?
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Old 08-16-2022, 03:59 PM
 
Location: In the heights
37,127 posts, read 39,357,090 times
Reputation: 21212
Quote:
Originally Posted by BBMW View Post
You're assuming the incorrect budgetting didn't have some degree of intent, that the HSR wasn't intentionally underestimated, and the alternatives overestimated. Given that the politicians driving the project knew which way they wanted to go from the outset, that isn't a safe assumption.
There were other independent evaluations past projects used for estimates on the alternatives since this was a pretty big deal and there was a lot more of then-current analogous projects for work on airports and highway expansions as the US and California has had done a lot more of that than HSR for quite a while though usually not on the kind of scale that would bring about the kind of capacity increase that rail would for such a long stretch. Is that something you were unaware of? Then you maybe should be more thoughtful when weighing in since perhaps this isn't something you know much about. I also think you may have misread--I stated that there was a good possibility that they underestimated the price of HSR intentionally. However, that doesn't change independent analysis of road and airport costs and that the modeling system CAHSR used for land acquisition simply did not account for the massive opposition by NIMBYs and others utilizing CEQA and similar *in general* and not specifically to high speed rail. Their land acquisition bits were simply way too optimistic though that's not the only issue.

I think it's pretty clear you don't know very much about this project nor the difference among the different modes given how there was nothing in your head that clicked about the massive capacity difference and energy usage difference at any point in this thread. What is it that you do for a living? Do you have a STEMs background at all? It certainly doesn't seem like it. You might have some kind of competency in something, but it's unfortunately not very evident.

Last edited by OyCrumbler; 08-16-2022 at 04:16 PM..
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Old 08-17-2022, 09:32 AM
 
15,827 posts, read 14,468,374 times
Reputation: 11907
Ad hominem attacks are a clear sign of a failed argument.

The question isn't so much how much capacity the HSR provides, it's how much it provides vs what's needed. There's also the issue of flexibility. Rail is the least flexible form of transportation.

And in point of fact none of that is really relevant to why this project is getting built. It's getting built because of a combination of environmental virtue signaling on the part of the leadership of the CA state government, and old fashioned pork barrel politics. There's just no way this project pencils out in terms cost / benefit, when the REAL budget numbers (if anyone even knows what they'll end up being) are considered.
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