Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thoughts on the Grapevine study's potential

Grapevine high-speed train route could save $4 billion

Building a high-speed train route over the Grapevine instead of through the Antelope Valley could save up to $4 billion, according to a July progress report released Wednesday.

A conceptual study identified more than one feasible alignment over the mountain pass, prompting engineers on the project to propose a more in-depth study of the Grapevine proposal, originally rejected in 2005.

But missing from the conceptual study, as of July anyway, was a close look at what effect a Grapevine route would have on the project's overall economics.

"More detailed analysis of ridership and revenue figures is required to complete the analysis between the Grapevine and Antelope Valley Alternatives," engineers with Parsons Brinckerhoff wrote in the July update released Wednesday by Bay Area opponents of the project.

Board members of the California High-Speed Rail Authority are not expected to review the study's findings until October or November, at which point they could decide whether to launch a detailed study that would place the Grapevine in direct competition with the Palmdale route.
With up to four billion dollars in cost savings, this could definitely push the current initial operating system debate, whether Bakersfield-San Jose or Merced-Los Angeles, decisively in favor of at least south to Sylmar and possibly all the way to Los Angeles Union Station. This is, of course, predicated on actual cost savings. It could very well be that both options are tremendously expensive and that it is simply the case that the Grapevine routing is less "more expensive" than the Palmdale routing. Unfortunately, I have yet to find the actual report itself as of yet.

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