Friday, April 13, 2012

CAHSR turns into a cat about Anaheim

It's in the plan, then it's out of the plan, then it's in the plan...will they just make up their minds?

The state's High Speed Rail Authority board on Thursday approved a new business plan for the bullet train route with one notable amendment – adding Anaheim back on as the route's southern terminus.
Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray testified before the rail authority in Sacramento advocating for the trains to travel all the way to Anaheim. After the meeting, she said she's thrilled to see Anaheim back in the project's initial phase, although the Los Angeles-to-Anaheim leg of the journey might not be at top speed.
"It's great news for us that Anaheim is back in the plan as a one-ticket ride all the way from San Francisco," Murray said. "It's great news that the rail authority recognized the importance not only Anaheim but the Orange County region.
Since it was publicized last week that the initial phase of high-speed rail would run from San Francisco to Los Angeles, stopping short of Anaheim to save on costs, the rail authority was flooded with calls and letters asking that Anaheim be put back in the first phase.
A letter from Lucy Dunn at the Orange County Business Council seemed to make a strong impact with the Rail Authority board, which voted unanimously to put Anaheim back in the plan, Murray said.
The rail agency had been looking at ways to cut the cost of the project, which had soared to $100 billion at one point. The current plan, detailed in a 212-page document, is estimated to cost about $68 billion, and could whisk passengers on the 520-mile route at up to 220 mph.
Murray said decisions about "electrifying" the L.A. to Anaheim segment of the line – needed for the train to run at full speed -- will be made at a later date. But the plan, as drafted, would allow passengers to travel from San Francisco all the way to Anaheim with one ticket – and without having to change trains in Los Angeles' Union Station, she said.

I'm honestly curious as to how they planned on actually deleting Anaheim from the system given that it is mandated as part of Phase I by law.

Now, presuming that they can get the appropriate waivers to share track with active freight operations, extension to Anaheim isn't very hard at all. It would be about 270-300 million dollars to string overhead catenary from Los Angeles to Anaheim, or another 640 million if you want to charge the Los Angeles Union Station through tracks to Anaheim as well. 

This does impose limitations on the number of trains that they can send through to Anaheim, of course, but unless they were going to have all trains originate/terminate in Anaheim, three trains per hour per direction, the HSR capacity under the shared track plan, was excessive and the dedicated plan's five was simply ludicrous. Browsing online, even Paris-Lyons tops out at 2 trains per hour, though this may be artificially low due to extremely high track fees per train on that line. Even without other improvements, Los Angeles-Anaheim should be able to handle two HSR trains per hour peak with the Los Angeles-Fullerton corridor finishing its triple track project this year (currently, including the 91 line, the peak use is 5tph, from 4:10-5:10pm, 3 Metrolink and 2 Amtrak) as well as the LAUS through tracks.

Until such time as Phase II connects to Sacramento, two trains per hour should be adequate capacity for Los Angeles to Anaheim. I do not consider Phase II to San Diego to require additional capacity for the simple reason that I do not expect any trains to actually make the journey from Anaheim to San Diego; it would be faster for passengers to take the Surfliner south along the LOSSAN route (admittedly, I am assuming that in the decades until such a Phase II connection exists, there would be 20 minutes worth of improvements made, but I feel that is a safe assumption).

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