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View Poll Results: Should the US build or improve it's HSR network?
Yes 249 89.57%
No 29 10.43%
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Old March 31st, 2013, 01:08 AM   #4101
FM 2258
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I probably haven't read enough to know what's really going on but why the hell can't they get their shit together and build this line? China will have the Lanzhou-Urumqi line build by 2014 but we can't get the Los Angeles-San Francisco line up anytime soon??? It seems like we'll all be dead by the time the first train runs no this line. Stupid!!! That latest map of the line looks like it's taking the long way out of Los Angeles to get past the mountains to the north, maybe that's the best route???
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Old March 31st, 2013, 06:29 PM   #4102
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Originally Posted by FM 2258 View Post
I probably haven't read enough to know what's really going on but why the hell can't they get their shit together and build this line? China will have the Lanzhou-Urumqi line build by 2014 but we can't get the Los Angeles-San Francisco line up anytime soon??? It seems like we'll all be dead by the time the first train runs no this line. Stupid!!! That latest map of the line looks like it's taking the long way out of Los Angeles to get past the mountains to the north, maybe that's the best route???
This is how everything is done in this country. And yes, it's pathetic.
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Old March 31st, 2013, 08:13 PM   #4103
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capping the maximum speed between SF and Gilroy at 220km/h (instead of the maximum 360km/h planned for line) would likely add 4 extra minutes for every single trip between points beyond Gilroy and SF on express trains (calling only at SJ). Might appear "peanuts", but by law the high-speed project MUST deliver express travel times below 2h40 between SF and Los Angeles (160 minutes), IIRC (I might be wrong on the exact minute count), which means these 4 minutes add 2,5% to the total travel time. Considering the long tunnels and curves to/from the Central Valley will also have some restrictions, that might put the strain to gain time on other segments at great expense, both capital and operational.
Can the Peninsula route inherently support 350km/h operation--or is it more or less a straight line already?

I think if they can get Caltrain to run at 220km/h on the Peninsula, I think that'll be a worthwhile tradeoff. The very idea of boosting speed to that level in America would already be an achievement.
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Old March 31st, 2013, 09:32 PM   #4104
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Can the Peninsula route inherently support 350km/h operation--or is it more or less a straight line already?

I think if they can get Caltrain to run at 220km/h on the Peninsula, I think that'll be a worthwhile tradeoff. The very idea of boosting speed to that level in America would already be an achievement.
San Jose-San Francisco will only likely be a 180 km/h route given the geometry and running through communities. 220 km/h would be a bit harder given the curvature of the Peninsula Corridor. Caltrain and CAHSR need to get together and come up with a plan to fix the worst of the curves on the Corridor. I wish they would also get their heads out of the sand and realize that a 3-track tunnel for 6 platforms is highly unnecessary.
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Old April 1st, 2013, 12:07 AM   #4105
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But isn't the Caltrain corridor wide enough to just have four tracks all the way?
And how many trains are planned anyway? You can actually quite efficiently run different classes of trains on the same route if you bundle them.
http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/200...-corridor.html
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Old April 17th, 2013, 07:41 PM   #4106
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Bullet train bidder has history of cost overruns



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April 16, 2013 | Christopher Cadelago, U-T San Diego

SACRAMENTO – The lowest-bidding partnership for the first segment of California’s high-speed rail line includes a firm with a history of cost overruns and costly lawsuits. The California High-Speed Rail Authority on Friday announced that the American joint venture of Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons was the “best apparent value” with a low bid of $985 million – below the $1.09 billion bid by the next-lowest bidder.

On construction projects in California, the lowest bidder has a strong advantage in the eventual selection process. Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the authority, declined to comment on bidders as the matter is finding its way to the authority’s board of directors. “Five world-class teams competed for this opportunity, and the process is ongoing,” Wilcox said. The first segment of the estimated $68 billion system is proposed to run 28 miles from Madera to Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley.

According to an August report by The Bay Citizen, sister site of California Watch, 11 major projects in the San Francisco Bay Area completed by Tutor in the last dozen years cost local governments $765 million more than they expected, or 40 percent above the initial bids. A company spokesman did not return a message seeking comment. CEO Ron Tutor said in the August report that attacks against him were unfounded and overruns were caused by contracting agencies changing the projects in midstream.

At San Francisco International Airport, the city alleged in a 2002 lawsuit that the company purposely bid low to win a $626 million expansion contract, then charged $980 million for the job. Tutor said there wasn’t “a single fact” justifying the city’s position but eventually agreed to pay $19 million to settle.

The company’s list of projects includes an extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit to the San Francisco airport, the Alameda Corridor rail line and the San Diego Convention Center. In 1993, the Port of San Diego paid the company $17 million to settle a $53 million lawsuit over the convention center project. In the lawsuit, the company blamed port-hired construction managers for delays that cost the company money.

Kevin Williams, a former San Francisco contracting officer who has testified in court against Tutor, said his experience with the company goes back decades. “Tom Bradley, the late mayor of Los Angeles, said it best: Ron Tutor was the change-order artist, the king, and he’s proven himself to be just that,” Williams told U-T San Diego on Monday. Williams said Tutor “is going to make up the difference somehow by lowballing. That is as old as history itself in the construction industry.”

Kevin Dayton, president and chief executive of Labor Issues Solutions and a critic of the bullet train project, said the rail authority is going to have to monitor change-order requests very closely. “People are always accusing each other in the construction industry of pulling the change-order racket: winning the low bid and then piling up costs afterward,” said Dayton, a former lobbyist for Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. “Sometimes, it is a matter of architectural errors, but everyone always blames everybody else for it, saying, ‘The drawings were bad; the engineering was bad, et cetera.’ ”

Dayton also questioned whether the four losing teams – who are eligible to be paid a $2 million stipend to cover their costs for seeking the contract – might now be required to sign statements agreeing not to publicly challenge the process.

The next-lowest bidder was Dragados/Samsung/Pulice. Officials there could not be reached for comment.

[...]
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Old April 18th, 2013, 02:44 AM   #4107
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Ridiculous system that you can bid low, say $1, and then just ask the price you really wanted, and actually get it. There is no incentive to bid high, because then you won't get it, and you'll get all the money you want anyway.
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Old April 18th, 2013, 04:11 PM   #4108
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Ridiculous system that you can bid low, say $1, and then just ask the price you really wanted, and actually get it. There is no incentive to bid high, because then you won't get it, and you'll get all the money you want anyway.
UK franchising system just had a massive reshuffle thanks to similar issues regarding the West Coast franchise. First Group bid a ridiculous sum that was undeliverable, and Virgin sued after losing, leading to a huge investigation etc
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Old April 19th, 2013, 02:58 AM   #4109
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UK franchising system just had a massive reshuffle thanks to similar issues regarding the West Coast franchise. First Group bid a ridiculous sum that was undeliverable, and Virgin sued after losing, leading to a huge investigation etc
We had the same thing in The Netherlands with those AnsaldoBreda scammers.
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Old April 19th, 2013, 03:01 PM   #4110
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After having looked at the CAHSR blog, it seems especially stupid considering the next most expensive bidder was only about 100 million more, and was evaluated as being significantly technically superior.
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Old April 19th, 2013, 07:54 PM   #4111
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After having looked at the CAHSR blog, it seems especially stupid considering the next most expensive bidder was only about 100 million more, and was evaluated as being significantly technically superior.
I'm sure if they chose that bidder the opposition will cry that public money has been wasted.
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Old April 19th, 2013, 08:36 PM   #4112
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Hell they should hire the Chinese government to build this line, they'd get done in like 3 years. I doubt they made this list of bidders.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 02:35 AM   #4113
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Hell they should hire the Chinese government to build this line, they'd get done in like 3 years. I doubt they made this list of bidders.
Afaik China likes to use as many Chinese things as possible in their projects: builders, materials, factories, etc.
Projects like these in the US generally require a lot of 'domestic' factors in their production: American builders, American factories, etc. as much as possible.

Those two don't really mix... but perhaps China would bend their own rules a bit to break into the American market.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 01:59 PM   #4114
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That and the easy process of acquiring land in China.

The Chinese were able to make a lot of savings that aren't replicable outside of the Chinese context.
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Old April 21st, 2013, 01:42 AM   #4115
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I'm sure if they chose that bidder the opposition will cry that public money has been wasted.
Sure, but this whole thing could cost a million dollars and those opposed would still be opposed; you know their opposition to the project has exceptionally little with whatever it ends up costing. So why should they worry about placating an implacable group of perpetual no-men? Wouldn't the smarter move be to ensure that the project has the greatest chance of ensuring that it lives up to those who expect good things to come from it?
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Old April 21st, 2013, 02:57 AM   #4116
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Originally Posted by Silly_Walks View Post
Afaik China likes to use as many Chinese things as possible in their projects: builders, materials, factories, etc.
Projects like these in the US generally require a lot of 'domestic' factors in their production: American builders, American factories, etc. as much as possible.

Those two don't really mix... but perhaps China would bend their own rules a bit to break into the American market.
Well we kind of have to purchase the technology from somewhere...
CRH has a good shot as 1) they've already partnered with GE (so they can build the trainsets domestically, soon, and with an American partner) and 2) they'll likely be able to underbid most of the other competition.

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That and the easy process of acquiring land in China.

The Chinese were able to make a lot of savings that aren't replicable outside of the Chinese context.
They don't need to "acquire" it as they own all the land.
Essentially, they use SOE's with financing from State Banks to develop land belonging to local governments, after which these municipal governments turn around and lease to developers (as it is now worth far more than it was initially, without the infrastructure).

It's a very effective model, but it's one that works best in the initial phase of industrialization and development. It's similar to most other East Asian Economies just on a larger scale.

China's in the unique position that they're growing so quickly, that they could pretty much build whatever they want without worrying about servicing debt, as they have a [reasonable] expectation that that growth will continue - they will outgrow any debt they take on.

My point, it's pretty futile to really go on about how much more efficiently they are at this stuff...it's a given. The Chinese market is a money-magnet. They can build whatever the hell they want to.

Our obstacle isn't money, we have more than enough capital (contrary to what some have made sure to have us believe) to finance these projects, but no one wants to do it because it's unpopular. We just need to cut this negative feedback loop.
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Old April 21st, 2013, 10:16 AM   #4117
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Using Chinese HSR technology is political suicide so it's completely out of the question. I agree that the biggest problem is HSR's image in the US general population's minds, I think it has something to do with the false impression that somehow public transit is taking away people's freedom of mobility. Essentially deep inside the American people don't want to rely on anyone to move around, that's why personal cars and even private planes are so popular here.
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Old April 21st, 2013, 10:42 AM   #4118
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I don't think there is anything special with Chinese engineering to make its system be cheaper. It is a matter of far lower wages, choosing always the cheaper alignment (no such thing as "preserving the views from South Fresno, no excessive tunneling to avoid disrupting communities) and reduced ancillary costs like eminent domain, extensive and protracted litigation etc. I read the legal fees bill for CAHSR is already on the US$ 105 million before works even begun.
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Old April 21st, 2013, 04:07 PM   #4119
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I don't think there is anything special with Chinese engineering to make its system be cheaper. It is a matter of far lower wages, choosing always the cheaper alignment (no such thing as "preserving the views from South Fresno, no excessive tunneling to avoid disrupting communities) and reduced ancillary costs like eminent domain, extensive and protracted litigation etc. I read the legal fees bill for CAHSR is already on the US$ 105 million before works even begun.
Also factor in the cost of borrowing as part of the long term costs. The Chinese banking sector is largely state owned, and the Chinese population are big savers. This gives state institutions (CR) and GLCs (rail contractors) access to very cheap credit, which makes heavy investment in HSR much cheaper all round.

Also there is just economies of scale. In similar geographic conditions, per KM, it's cheaper to build a 10,000km network than 1,000km - and China is building a *lot*. The US could save a lot of money by utilizing that economy of scale as well as not re-inventing the wheel, by buying an off the shelf solution, regardless of whether they do that from China, France, Spain, Japan or Germany. You could get around isolationist and xenophobic tendencies by importing the rolling stock as CKD kits, assembling them locally, and sticking a patriotic flag / slogan on them (much as China did in the early days with CRH).
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Old April 21st, 2013, 08:58 PM   #4120
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Quote:
Settlement reached in high-speed rail lawsuit
By: The Associated Press | 04/18/13 7:44 PM

SACRAMENTO — The California agency overseeing the state's effort to build the nation's first high-speed rail line received a boost Thursday when a judge approved a settlement in a major lawsuit that sought to block the project . . . .

The rail authority reached the settlement with a group of Central Valley farmers who sued to block the bullet train on environmental grounds. The approval by a Sacramento County Superior Court cleared the last legal hurdle for the $68 billion project to break ground this summer.

Getting the environmental lawsuit out of the way is a significant win for Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and other allies of the ambitious, much-criticized project. Brown said in a news release that it is a "very solid settlement" between farmers and the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Under the deal, the authority agreed to establish a $5 million fund to preserve farmland and pay nearly $1 million in legal fees to the groups that filed the lawsuit, which include the Madera and Merced county farm bureaus. It also spells out how the authority will work with landowners to acquire land along the route.

Dan Richard, chairman of the rail authority board, said the agreement paves the way for construction to start this summer on the first 30-mile segment of track from Madera to Fresno . . . .
Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/tran...#ixzz2R7biNVr5
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