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Author Topic: CA 99  (Read 1631 times)

Bobby5280

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2018, 11:27:38 AM »

In Google Earth bits of pieces of where the high speed rail corridor is planned are clearly visible from Madera down to Corcoran. A decent amount of clearing has taken place.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2018, 11:58:47 AM »

In Google Earth bits of pieces of where the high speed rail corridor is planned are clearly visible from Madera down to Corcoran. A decent amount of clearing has taken place.

Not only that but a large amount of it south of Fresno is on already along existing rail right-of-way.  I drive over a portion of the excavations on Adams, South, and Manning Avenues on a regular basis.  Even the irrigation canals are being upgraded or shifted to accommodate the HSR. 

sparker

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #27 on: December 04, 2018, 02:47:49 AM »

In Google Earth bits of pieces of where the high speed rail corridor is planned are clearly visible from Madera down to Corcoran. A decent amount of clearing has taken place.

Not only that but a large amount of it south of Fresno is on already along existing rail right-of-way.  I drive over a portion of the excavations on Adams, South, and Manning Avenues on a regular basis.  Even the irrigation canals are being upgraded or shifted to accommodate the HSR. 

It's interesting that the HSR route south of Fresno essentially follows the existing BNSF/Amtrak line via Hanford and Corcoran (combined population about 78K) rather than farther east serving Visalia and Tulare (combined population about 183K) if the goal is ridership.  I guess land's cheaper west of CA 99 than to the east.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #28 on: December 04, 2018, 08:05:09 AM »

In Google Earth bits of pieces of where the high speed rail corridor is planned are clearly visible from Madera down to Corcoran. A decent amount of clearing has taken place.

Not only that but a large amount of it south of Fresno is on already along existing rail right-of-way.  I drive over a portion of the excavations on Adams, South, and Manning Avenues on a regular basis.  Even the irrigation canals are being upgraded or shifted to accommodate the HSR. 

It's interesting that the HSR route south of Fresno essentially follows the existing BNSF/Amtrak line via Hanford and Corcoran (combined population about 78K) rather than farther east serving Visalia and Tulare (combined population about 183K) if the goal is ridership.  I guess land's cheaper west of CA 99 than to the east.

I guess roughly 10 miles was close enough for planners regarding Visalia?  Apparently Hanford is up in arms about it and doesnít want the HSR coming to them. The primary argument is that the station is east of downtown along the 43 corridor which supposedly would sap at tourism and use of the current Amtrak line.  But that said, I would assume using the 43 corridor to Bakersfield would be way cheaper than the much more built up 99 corridor through places line Tulare and Delano. 

sparker

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #29 on: December 04, 2018, 12:10:07 PM »

^^^^^^^^^
I was thinking more about a new-terrain alignment somewhat east of 99 (a combined Tulare/Visalia depot could be located somewhere on Mooney Blvd./CA 63 between the cities).  It could stay a bit east of the actual 99 corridor rather than actually follow the highway and/or the parallel UP tracks closely, but still have a station stop adjacent to Delano; something like that would still allow high-speed acceleration and distance between station stops:  Bakersfield, Delano, Visalia/Tulare, and Fresno would address the four population centers in the southern part of the valley; if Hanford is opposed to being included in the mix, then any potential riders from there (and from Corcoran for that matter) could utilize the Visalia/Tulare station.  But then looking at things with clear eyes and a reasonable level of analysis doesn't seem to be a hallmark of the HSR planning process; it seems that the project in general was rushed into its current form to satisfy political aims and ambitions more than provision of a cohesive system intended to serve as many state residents as feasible. 
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Bobby5280

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #30 on: December 04, 2018, 01:40:07 PM »

At least they're not twisting, turning and bending the HSR route in the fashion of new super highways. And that's only because they can't. If you want modern, high speed rail it requires the rail path have extremely gradual turns and run on straight paths as much as possible. Without that the trains can't go fast. Even with state of the art car tilting systems the rail paths can't bend much at all. The requirements get more extreme if the train is expected to hit speeds comparable to the best HSR networks. At-grade crossings are a big no no. For really fast speeds to be possible you have to limit the number of stations.

So, yeah, some towns are going to be left out of the party. But that's math and physics for you.
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sparker

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #31 on: December 04, 2018, 06:25:35 PM »

^^^^^^^
Quite correct; for a system with anticipated speeds around 200mph, placing stations at less than 50-60 mile intervals would be counterproductive to system efficiency and overall speed maintenance.  Right now there's planned straight runs between Mojave and Bakersfield and Bakersfield and Corcoran/Hanford (apparently the station will be along CA 43 a bit south of CA 198), and again up to Fresno (sort of at the minimum interim distance).  Avoiding lower-radius curvature in the Valley hasn't been considered a problem (and eminent domain is taking care of that issue, for better or worse).  It'll be interesting to see how Caltrans plans to tunnel under the Tehachapis, a quite seismically active area (e.g. the 1952 earthquake that took out the SP main line plus quite a bit of US 466!), since it'll involve several changes of overall elevation (Bakersfield is a bit under 1K elevation, while Mojave is at about 3.4K, with the intervening Tehachapi Valley sitting at about 3.9K.  Since they're planning a series of shorter tunnels rather than go the Swiss route and build one "ginormous" 30-40 mile bore, there will be quite a bit of curvature required, which will likely curtail speed somewhat through that section (I'd guess 160-175mph would be the maximum speed through those hills, with the average somewhat lower).  With the number of station stops (Lancaster/Palmdale, Santa Clarita) south of there, it'll be difficult for HSR to maintain high speed south of Bakersfield. 
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mgk920

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #32 on: December 04, 2018, 09:35:26 PM »

As I have often mentioned in other threads and in other forvms, a true European/Chinese style high-speed rail line (350 km/h/220 MPH track speed) requires a 7000 meter/4 mile minimum horizontal curve radius.  I always bring that point up when such things are being glowingly discussed by others for construction elsewhere - it's a humbling thought for routing in highly developed suburban areas.  Also, such lines MUST be designed and built so that trains can run 'express' (full speed non-stop) the entire way between the lines' major terminal stations, otherwise they would not be time competitive with airlines between those points.

With that in mind, intermediate stops can be included if these stations are built so that their platforms are on sidings that branch off of the mainline tracks, this so that express trains can blow through them at full speed while either any people who are standing on the platforms are not endangered or they can overtake local/regional trains that are making their station stops.

Mike
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #33 on: December 05, 2018, 12:45:44 AM »

There probably was an opportunity to align the HSR between 99 and 65.  That may have eliminated a station near Hanford but you could get one probably located center mass between Visalia, Tulare, and Hanford.  There is some workable terrain on the eastern leg of Bakersfield which wouldn't dip into the Sierra Foothills that could be workable for a high speed line.

Anyways, someone correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't the HSR initially supposed to follow the I-5 corridor south of CA 152? 

Bobby5280

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #34 on: December 05, 2018, 02:09:22 PM »

Quote from: mgk920
With that in mind, intermediate stops can be included if these stations are built so that their platforms are on sidings that branch off of the mainline tracks, this so that express trains can blow through them at full speed while either any people who are standing on the platforms are not endangered or they can overtake local/regional trains that are making their station stops.

That's a common feature for the Shinkansen, aka the "bullet train." We were stationed in Iwakuni, Japan when I was a kid. My friends and I sometimes rode our bicycles off the Marine Corps base to the historical park featuring Kintai Bridge, we'd hike up the mountain to see Iwakuni Castle and down the back side of the mountain to go watch the bullet train stop at the Shin-Iwakuni station or blow through it at high speed. I was nuts about trains then, so seeing what was then the world's fastest train was really amazing.

The funny thing is Japan has very little in the way of flat land. It's mostly mountains next to the ocean. The areas where people live are very densely populated. But they managed to build the Shinkansen network anyway with lots of tunnels and tracks built mostly on elevated structures. Hell, even a bunch of their superhighways are elevated and feature lots and lots of mountain tunnels. The Sanyo Expressway didn't even exist when we lived in Iwakuni, but now there's a toll road exit there close to the bullet train station.

Regarding high speed rail stations, many of the train platforms have to be built on elevated structures just like the tracks themselves. It's can't be all at grade like many American train and commuter rail stations. Not only are curve radius requirements for turns pretty extreme. Grade change limits are just as demanding.
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sparker

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #35 on: December 05, 2018, 03:59:02 PM »

There probably was an opportunity to align the HSR between 99 and 65.  That may have eliminated a station near Hanford but you could get one probably located center mass between Visalia, Tulare, and Hanford.  There is some workable terrain on the eastern leg of Bakersfield which wouldn't dip into the Sierra Foothills that could be workable for a high speed line.

Anyways, someone correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't the HSR initially supposed to follow the I-5 corridor south of CA 152? 

A ridge of foothills descends into eastern Bakersfield around the Alfred Harrell Highway, north of CA 178; it's likely that in order to actually serve Bakersfield, a station would have to be located somewhere in the northeast suburbs if a HSR route east of CA 99 would have been selected.  As it is, there's a sizeable enough distance between the Bakersfield and Hanford stations to allow trains to come close to or reach maximum speed; the sparse population between those points allowing this long stationless stretch may have actually been a factor in determining the route.  And yes, the first iteration of HSR -- which featured a tunnel on a grade from near Grapevine up to south of Gorman (rising some 2700 feet) was to generally follow I-5 and was envisioned, like the road it would have traced, as a "bullet" straight-line route to the Bay Area.  That plan outlined several options to get over to the coast, one of which would have generally followed the never-built "direct" CA 180 alignment over to Hollister, then north through San Jose into S.F. (IIRC, there were alternates along CA 152 and I-580).   The almost perpetual seismic activity in the Hollister area doomed that option early on, while political blowback from the more populated Valley areas ended up moving the rail corridor eastward to follow a combination of the current Amtrak San Joaquin line and CA 99. 
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mgk920

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #36 on: December 06, 2018, 11:01:28 AM »

Quote from: mgk920
With that in mind, intermediate stops can be included if these stations are built so that their platforms are on sidings that branch off of the mainline tracks, this so that express trains can blow through them at full speed while either any people who are standing on the platforms are not endangered or they can overtake local/regional trains that are making their station stops.

That's a common feature for the Shinkansen, aka the "bullet train." We were stationed in Iwakuni, Japan when I was a kid. My friends and I sometimes rode our bicycles off the Marine Corps base to the historical park featuring Kintai Bridge, we'd hike up the mountain to see Iwakuni Castle and down the back side of the mountain to go watch the bullet train stop at the Shin-Iwakuni station or blow through it at high speed. I was nuts about trains then, so seeing what was then the world's fastest train was really amazing.

The funny thing is Japan has very little in the way of flat land. It's mostly mountains next to the ocean. The areas where people live are very densely populated. But they managed to build the Shinkansen network anyway with lots of tunnels and tracks built mostly on elevated structures. Hell, even a bunch of their superhighways are elevated and feature lots and lots of mountain tunnels. The Sanyo Expressway didn't even exist when we lived in Iwakuni, but now there's a toll road exit there close to the bullet train station.

Regarding high speed rail stations, many of the train platforms have to be built on elevated structures just like the tracks themselves. It's can't be all at grade like many American train and commuter rail stations. Not only are curve radius requirements for turns pretty extreme. Grade change limits are just as demanding.

From what I've seen of European true HSR lines, both in still images and cab video, vertical curves and grades are not as restrictive on them as they are for conventional freight railroads.  ISTR that the French TGV allows up to 4% grades, while few mainline freight railroads go over 2.2% in mountains (the ruling grades on the BNSF and UP southwestern approaches to Cajon Pass are 3%).  HSR trainsets are far shorter and lighter than are freight trains and much better able to handle the 'slack action' that is inherent in places with abrupt grade changes.

Mike
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mgk920

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #37 on: December 06, 2018, 11:10:23 AM »

There probably was an opportunity to align the HSR between 99 and 65.  That may have eliminated a station near Hanford but you could get one probably located center mass between Visalia, Tulare, and Hanford.  There is some workable terrain on the eastern leg of Bakersfield which wouldn't dip into the Sierra Foothills that could be workable for a high speed line.

Anyways, someone correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't the HSR initially supposed to follow the I-5 corridor south of CA 152? 

A ridge of foothills descends into eastern Bakersfield around the Alfred Harrell Highway, north of CA 178; it's likely that in order to actually serve Bakersfield, a station would have to be located somewhere in the northeast suburbs if a HSR route east of CA 99 would have been selected.  As it is, there's a sizeable enough distance between the Bakersfield and Hanford stations to allow trains to come close to or reach maximum speed; the sparse population between those points allowing this long stationless stretch may have actually been a factor in determining the route.  And yes, the first iteration of HSR -- which featured a tunnel on a grade from near Grapevine up to south of Gorman (rising some 2700 feet) was to generally follow I-5 and was envisioned, like the road it would have traced, as a "bullet" straight-line route to the Bay Area.  That plan outlined several options to get over to the coast, one of which would have generally followed the never-built "direct" CA 180 alignment over to Hollister, then north through San Jose into S.F. (IIRC, there were alternates along CA 152 and I-580).   The almost perpetual seismic activity in the Hollister area doomed that option early on, while political blowback from the more populated Valley areas ended up moving the rail corridor eastward to follow a combination of the current Amtrak San Joaquin line and CA 99.

Between Bakersfield and Los Angeles, the HSR line is planned to roughly follow CA 58 and the BNSF via Tehachapi Pass and the on via Cajon Pass and San Bernardino, correct?

Mike
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #38 on: December 06, 2018, 11:11:21 AM »

There probably was an opportunity to align the HSR between 99 and 65.  That may have eliminated a station near Hanford but you could get one probably located center mass between Visalia, Tulare, and Hanford.  There is some workable terrain on the eastern leg of Bakersfield which wouldn't dip into the Sierra Foothills that could be workable for a high speed line.

Anyways, someone correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't the HSR initially supposed to follow the I-5 corridor south of CA 152? 

A ridge of foothills descends into eastern Bakersfield around the Alfred Harrell Highway, north of CA 178; it's likely that in order to actually serve Bakersfield, a station would have to be located somewhere in the northeast suburbs if a HSR route east of CA 99 would have been selected.  As it is, there's a sizeable enough distance between the Bakersfield and Hanford stations to allow trains to come close to or reach maximum speed; the sparse population between those points allowing this long stationless stretch may have actually been a factor in determining the route.  And yes, the first iteration of HSR -- which featured a tunnel on a grade from near Grapevine up to south of Gorman (rising some 2700 feet) was to generally follow I-5 and was envisioned, like the road it would have traced, as a "bullet" straight-line route to the Bay Area.  That plan outlined several options to get over to the coast, one of which would have generally followed the never-built "direct" CA 180 alignment over to Hollister, then north through San Jose into S.F. (IIRC, there were alternates along CA 152 and I-580).   The almost perpetual seismic activity in the Hollister area doomed that option early on, while political blowback from the more populated Valley areas ended up moving the rail corridor eastward to follow a combination of the current Amtrak San Joaquin line and CA 99.

Between Bakersfield and Los Angeles, the HSR line is planned to roughly follow CA 48 and the BNSF via Tehachapi Pass, Cajon Pass and San Bernardino, correct?

Mike

I think you meant CA 58 but yes Tehachapi Pass and down the CA 14 corridor. 

mgk920

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #39 on: December 06, 2018, 02:25:58 PM »

Between Bakersfield and Los Angeles, the HSR line is planned to roughly follow CA 48 and the BNSF via Tehachapi Pass, Cajon Pass and San Bernardino, correct?

Mike

I think you meant CA 58 but yes Tehachapi Pass and down the CA 14 corridor.

Yea, I corrected that shortly after I first posted it.

 :-P

So it is planned to go in via Palmdale and Lancaster and not Cajon Pass.  I remember seeing articles with lines being drawn through San Bernardino a few years ago and was thinking that that was a bit out of the way for such a route.

Thanx!

Mike
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #40 on: December 06, 2018, 04:58:53 PM »

Does anyone think the proposed "High-Speed Rail" in California will ever be completed in its entirety? I have very strong doubts. Personally, I'd rather take a High-Speed Bus than a High-Speed Train.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #41 on: December 06, 2018, 06:03:03 PM »

Does anyone think the proposed "High-Speed Rail" in California will ever be completed in its entirety? I have very strong doubts. Personally, I'd rather take a High-Speed Bus than a High-Speed Train.

It has immense challenges in front of it to keep itís funding alive.  There has been almost constant efforts to kill the project since day one.  The urban areas want the HSR but the rural areas of the state donít. If there are increasing project price overrjdes and delays it certainly wonít help the cause of finishing the HSR.  As it stands now there isnít enough of the line built or even under construction to ensure it will survive. 

sparker

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #42 on: December 06, 2018, 07:07:16 PM »

^^^^^^^^
Essentially the HSR will follow the historic SP San Joaquin Division line from the San Fernando Valley in metro L.A. to Bakersfield, but with even more tunnel mileage than the original rail line (which had nearly 20 tunnels at one time, but some have been expanded to open cuts over the years) in order to maintain minimal curvature (about a 6000-yard radius, IIRC) and gradient.  And, unlike the original 1876-built line, no full loops!
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #43 on: December 06, 2018, 07:54:01 PM »

^^^^^^^^
Essentially the HSR will follow the historic SP San Joaquin Division line from the San Fernando Valley in metro L.A. to Bakersfield, but with even more tunnel mileage than the original rail line (which had nearly 20 tunnels at one time, but some have been expanded to open cuts over the years) in order to maintain minimal curvature (about a 6000-yard radius, IIRC) and gradient.  And, unlike the original 1876-built line, no full loops!

And thatís the thing that probably will have the most weight in whether the project survives is those tunnels.  Even Tehachapi Pass with all that room is going to require extensive tunneling.  Itís hard to see something like that ever getting done with how apathetic the state and local population has been towards large scale public works projects post 1970.  If anything a scaled back version of this plan could have been done much more affordable between San Francisco and Los Angeles using the general path of the Star Line and US 101.  Granted that would have under cut the Central Valley but Iíd suspect that is where the least use of the line would be anyways. 

sparker

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #44 on: December 07, 2018, 04:41:38 PM »

^^^^^^^
As I've previously suggested, instituting conventional but dedicated rail service between L.A. and S.F., a la the old Californian overnight service that existed on the coast line between 1979 and 1984 as part of the "Amtrak California" service group, would be helpful if only to establish a ridership baseline.  Maybe even a 2nd similar inland service based on an extension of the current San Joaquin concept deployed over the existing Tehachapi line (if UP and BNSF would even consider such) might be even more appropriate in that regard.  But as it is the whole HSR concept is built on speculation, conjecture, and even politics.  And I've said it before and bet I'll have to say it again -- HSR ridership won't be a shift from automobiles, it'll come from the airlines that connect the two regions, and be comprised of (1) the "white-knucklers" who would rather not fly in the first place, and (2) those folks, possibly "romantics", who would rather spend the extra few hours taking the train in order to see what scenery they can in the process.  The vast majority of destination-oriented folks will stay on the planes, as it's an established service corridor between multiple airports in each region, which offers a modicum of convenience to the traveler.  The current HSR "curriculum" just seems like a lot of cash spent for what is functionally a "pilot program", which unfortunately has a high probability of futility.   
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #45 on: December 07, 2018, 04:43:11 PM »

I agree with you 100% sparker.
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GaryA

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #46 on: December 07, 2018, 04:56:49 PM »

^^^^^^^
As I've previously suggested, instituting conventional but dedicated rail service between L.A. and S.F., a la the old Californian overnight service that existed on the coast line between 1979 and 1984 as part of the "Amtrak California" service group, would be helpful if only to establish a ridership baseline.

There is daily service on the Coast Starlight line between LA and San Jose/Oakland, following the coastal route (and with the usual issues of running Amtrak over other lines' tracks).  It takes 10-11 hours for each trip (with stops in Salinas, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Van Nuys, and Burbank).  Not sure what the ridership level is, though.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #47 on: December 07, 2018, 05:22:56 PM »

Apparently ridership on the entirety of the Coast Starlight was 450,000 approximately Back 2015.  Granted that includes the full length of the rail service from Seattle to Los Angeles.  Understandably Speed is the issue with the number of stops on the Coast Starlight but the ridership certainly suggest a huge demand for rail service. 

Conversely the ridership out of the Santa Fe Rail Depot by itself is close to 400,000 annually. If conventional service over Tehachapi Pass was allowed regularly my thought is that it would be viable as-is in terms of travel.  Rail travel on Amtrak from Fresno to Bakersfield is fairly healthy but itís pretty much limited by the freight only line up Tehachapi Pass. 

Incidentally back on the subject of CA 99 Iíll be doing my photos from US 50/CA 51 south to CA 145 Sunday if weather permits.  I wanted to do the photos from 145 north to US 50 but it just so happens Iíll be heading home from Sacramento, either way it will be the full CA 99 Freeway.  Already wrote my listed of Signed County Route junctions so I donít get burned by missing one this go around. 
« Last Edit: December 07, 2018, 05:25:40 PM by Max Rockatansky »
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Bobby5280

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #48 on: December 07, 2018, 09:45:27 PM »

I think there is a luxury play possible with the HSR service.

Long ago when I lived in Japan the Shinkansen and riding on it was quite a status symbol. Japan has an extensive passenger rail network. It blows away what we have here in the United States by leaps and bounds, even after privatization of the JNR (Japanese National Railways) network and closure of a decent number of unprofitable rural lines. The high speed Shinkansen network is the most visible to people outside Japan. There are close to 20 other slower speed passenger rail networks, now run by private JR Group companies. A bunch of these train systems run on different railway gauges. This doesn't even get into the subway, monorail and trolley car systems found in many of the larger cities. BTW the rail networks in Europe are somewhat similar, with the high speed rail systems carrying the best levels of luxury and douchey status.

Anyway, the "slow" inter-city trains in Japan are less expensive to ride than the Bullet Train. But they have a lot more stops on their routes and the trains are not nearly as nice. They're not dirty like a NYC Subway from the early 1970's, but they don't evoke images of luxury either. We often rode those trains on trips from Iwakuni up to Hiroshima. I'm guessing if California's high speed rail authority plays their cards right they could attract various yuppies, some higher income environmentalist feeling types and perhaps even some celebrities.

Wasn't there supposed to be some kind of 300mph Maglev route built between Los Angeles and Las Vegas? I guess nothing ever became of that idea. But I certainly could see a 200mph regular HSR route doing steady business between the two metros.

By the way, I think the new bullet trains in Japan are really strange looking. I miss the original, iconic bullet trains even though they're functionally obsolete compared to the new ones.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2018, 09:50:43 PM by Bobby5280 »
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sparker

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Re: CA 99
« Reply #49 on: December 09, 2018, 03:28:04 AM »

^^^^^^^
As I've previously suggested, instituting conventional but dedicated rail service between L.A. and S.F., a la the old Californian overnight service that existed on the coast line between 1979 and 1984 as part of the "Amtrak California" service group, would be helpful if only to establish a ridership baseline.

There is daily service on the Coast Starlight line between LA and San Jose/Oakland, following the coastal route (and with the usual issues of running Amtrak over other lines' tracks).  It takes 10-11 hours for each trip (with stops in Salinas, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Van Nuys, and Burbank).  Not sure what the ridership level is, though.
Apparently ridership on the entirety of the Coast Starlight was 450,000 approximately Back 2015.  Granted that includes the full length of the rail service from Seattle to Los Angeles.  Understandably Speed is the issue with the number of stops on the Coast Starlight but the ridership certainly suggest a huge demand for rail service. 

Conversely the ridership out of the Santa Fe Rail Depot by itself is close to 400,000 annually. If conventional service over Tehachapi Pass was allowed regularly my thought is that it would be viable as-is in terms of travel.  Rail travel on Amtrak from Fresno to Bakersfield is fairly healthy but itís pretty much limited by the freight only line up Tehachapi Pass. 

Incidentally back on the subject of CA 99 Iíll be doing my photos from US 50/CA 51 south to CA 145 Sunday if weather permits.  I wanted to do the photos from 145 north to US 50 but it just so happens Iíll be heading home from Sacramento, either way it will be the full CA 99 Freeway.  Already wrote my listed of Signed County Route junctions so I donít get burned by missing one this go around. 

The Coast Starlight schedule is actually longer today than it was 20 years ago, partially because of the addition of the Van Nuys and Paso Robles station stops.  Another issue is the track condition of the Coast Line; while the portion of the line south of San Luis Obispo has been upgraded to continuous-welded rail because of the needs of the Coaster service, most of the line between SLO and Gilroy is what is known as "stick rail" -- i.e., the historic 39-foot rail sections (the stuff that provides the "clickety-clack" sound when riding in passenger cars); the speed limit is somewhat lower over those sections (with the exception of a stretch between King City and Soledad that features welded rail due to curvature).  UP, as well as predecessor SP, downgraded the line back in the mid-80's as far as freight service goes; most through freight utilizes the Mojave/San Joaquin line, which has featured not only continuously-welded rail for decades -- but some of the heaviest (161 pounds per linear foot) rail on a US main line (rivaled only by NS and CSX on their coal-corridor lines in WV and VA).  Most freight movement on the Coast Line consists of seasonal agricultural shipments from the Salinas Valley, sugar-beet traffic from near Santa Maria, and "baretable" transfers (unladen container cars) as needed between the Port of L.A./Long Beach and the Port of Oakland.  Because of the relatively light freight load, this is one section of the Amtrak-over-freight-lines situation that is only minimally affected by prioritization of freight by the host railroad.  But that is offset by the lower speed limits necessary with "jointed" non-continuous-welded rail -- not coincidentally on that section of track not utilized by regional Amtrak California service (Coaster on the south and Capitol on the north) or metro commuter lines.  With only the once-daily (per direction) Starlight train on that route, Amtrak doesn't have a viable argument to prompt track owner UP to upgrade the middle section of the line, whereas Amtrak California, partially owned/operated by a dedicated Caltrans division, can put pressure on the RR toward a facility upgrade.  Arguably if the old overnight Californian L.A. to Sacramento service that existed between 1979 and 1984 would have been continued, the Coast trackage might have already seen such upgrades. 
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