Saturday, August 27, 2011

High Speed Rail, Now? Remarkably STUPID In Nature:

So-called "high speed rail" is a non-starter in this nation.

As it SHOULD be.

We cannot afford it.

Not now.

Not in the foreseeable future.

As I wrote here:
High speed rail is a non-starter in a crap economy. I'm a massive railfan and even I know this. Fornicalia has its own high-speed multi-billion-dollar HSR boondoggle that an addled and drugged electorate voted for three years ago. Has even one mile of track been laid under this bond? Why, gosh, that would be a resounding NO. And broadband? It's the government's responsibility to provide broadband for me high in the Sierra Nevada mountains? WTF? What planet are you from?

California's Proposition 1A managed to pass in November of 2008, which committed Fornicalia to BILLIONS of dollars due to a naive electorate:
Prop 1A - High Speed Rail Bond
NO. Rail creation of any kind, particularly "high speed" rail, is expensive beyond measure. In 1908 it cost $0.75 per track foot, or $3,960 a mile. Recently, 6.3 miles of American "light rail" extension at 2007 prices costed out at about $2 billion dollars. The Union Pacific recently estimated per-mile costs of new freight at a minimum of $385 million per mile. Currently Union Pacific rail renovation projects for heavy freight over Donner Pass (the area where I live) include the replacement of 136-pound rail with 141-pound rail. That is to say, one yard of each rail equals either 136 or 141 pounds. Freight rail doesn't have to be incredibly precise; it just has to be durable and heavy. High speed rail must be precise, accurately-gauged, cambered in curves and inaccessible. It isn't just a matter of laying rail; it's a matter of purchasing brand new right-of-way for the track proper and sufficient extra right-of-way to ensure safety and inaccessability for those bent on damaging or derailing HSR. Finally, I want no further link from Southern Fornicalia to Northern Fornicalia. The Surenos can keep their gang bullshit right where it is, thank you.
Despite logic, 1A passed. Because it just somehow felt good. Besides, it wasn't dollars from the electorate, was it? Dollars from voters? Dollars from me? Dollars from you? Of course not. Only dollars from -- somewhere. Nine BILLION dollars.

However, would you somehow be shocked that the tariff for this project managed to creep up from $9 billion dollars to $43 billion dollars -- and that is a low estimate? Some say that $100 billion is the proper starting point.

From the San Mateo Daily Journal:
The High-Speed Rail Authority has bungled the project from the beginning with poor management, a lack of a coherent business plan, no realistic estimates of cost, ridership or fares, no final decision on the route and even less chance of obtaining the tens of billions of dollars in private financing that is needed to complete the system.

It is difficult to fathom how Brown cannot see that a high-speed rail system in California is doomed to failure. The estimated $43 billion for the first phase of the project from the Bay Area to Anaheim is likely to be way low.

The $9 billion in bond authority approved by the voters in 2008 won’t even cover a quarter of the cost, and requires matching funds that are not likely to be forthcoming.

Despite all of these problems, the rail authority is moving ahead with plans to lay 100 miles of track in the Central Valley. Even though this is the least expensive and least complicated part of the route, cost estimates already are running way higher than forecast.

Initial reports on the segment that would almost but not quite connect Merced and Bakersfield were estimated to cost $7.1 billion just for the track. Those cost estimates are now as much as $13.9 billion, and this is the easy part of the project.

It would not be surprising if the cost of the complete rail project rose north of $100 billion. No wonder the Legislative Analyst’s Office advised against Brown’s request for $185 million to keep the project alive.

Even with large subsidies, ridership is not apt to be anywhere near what is needed to keep fares competitive with airlines, even with higher fuel prices.

Shocked, are you? Shocked and astounded?

Myself, not so much.

Further, what of Mr Obama's so-called HSR "vision"?

In a nutshell: Obama's "vision" of HSR is neither green nor efficient nor practical.

HSR works reasonably in the Northeast Corridor with Amtrak's Acela and other trains.

In the meantime, Mr Obama "commits" $13 billion towards national HSR. With the above figures discussed, this is an infinitesimal drop in the bucket.

Americans: you are being FLEECED.

So that perhaps a few -- at highest estimate -- thousand riders can benefit from low fares and convenient stops?

Again: insanity.

This is NOT the time nor the PLAN.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Northern California Railfans, Rejoice!

Roughly one month ago I chanced upon fellow train enthusiast Roger Burdick whilst awaiting some trains in Gold Run.

We met, shook hands and exchanged sites.

It turns out that Roger not only lives in my area, but hosts a wonderful website, known as ""

For Roger's website, please go here.

Roger's site hosts the Altafest Webcam as well, which documents (every few seconds) the Union Pacific #1 and #2 tracks over Donner in the town of Alta, California -- hence, of course, the term "Altafest," yes?

What is the purpose of "Altafest"? As written on his site:
What is AltaFest? There are really two of them, one at the tracks, which is open to anyone, and one at the house, which is by RSVP only.

The gathering at the tracks is for the express purpose of making foaming fun, exchanging information, exchanging and taking pictures and video, making new friends and (of course) watching trains go by. There are occasional violations of Rule G. Hard liquor, beer and wine have been known to be consumed during this time period.

To keep informed of this and other Northern California updates, I would refer you to and recommend joining the Yahoo group CalRailFans.

You can join CalRailFans here.

Roger, I hope I've pointed some more people to your site and to the YahooGroup!

It's great to know there are fellow enthusiasts in my area!

-- even though you have a railroad crossing signal in your yard, and I don't.