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Old July 29th, 2005, 02:30 AM   #21
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Also, to add that it takes a LONG time to dig a tunnel with a tunnel boring machine. It can take 6 months just to dig a 1 mile long tunnel, under bad soils, so that adds up the labour costs. If you dig a tunnel too fast, it will collaspe for sure. Doing it nice and slow makes things safer and stable.
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Old July 29th, 2005, 02:32 AM   #22
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^ Most subways go under roads.So unlike Freeways, it's not as much right of way you would have to buy to make it heppen.
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Old July 29th, 2005, 05:42 AM   #23
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The problem with some subways now is that its not the cost per-se but its cost effectivness.
As cities move out so does density decrease and commuting patterns change.
Your "office job" maybe in suburbia at a hitech park.
Thjese are areas that are much harder to serve effectivly and make subways an inappropriate use of scarce funds.
Going shopping use to mean either your neighbourhood or downtown. Now it can mean both those things but big-boxes and super malls as well.
Except in large cities with high density Subways should no longer be that..underground. The further you go from a core the less likely this is needed.
Subways due to cheap labour and low urban/enviornmental laws use to be MUCH cheaper even 40 years ago. Those days are over and just as cities have had to rethink their urban planning developments so do they also have to rethink their transit technology.
Politicians like to cut ribbons and they would rather do it on a subway but this is going to have to change as subways become less afforadable and less justifiable.
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Old July 29th, 2005, 05:46 AM   #24
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A subway is a LOT more complicated than just diging a tunnel. You have various soil and rock conditions, and in many cases you are going to be hitting water tables, so you have to have some way of dealing with that. And let's face it - you can build an above ground system just by laying tracks - you don't have to remove all the air over those tracks.

Another major hurdle is the construction of the cities themselves - you have to avoid or deal with building foundations, ppipes, electrical lines, other tunnels, underground water pockets, theres a LOT of engineering involved. Not to mention the faqct that as you dig, you can't really look ahead of you.

Subways are big ticket items. However, in many cases it would be even more disruptive to close a street than to go under the street. It also depends upon routes - it is far easier to build along a road IF you can use the cut and cover technique, than to tunnel under water or buildings.

By it's nature, any kind of transportation in a tunnel is going to be expensive, so if there is an alternative that meets most of the needs, that is usually going to be the choice. But there are some good reasons to tunnel. You ddo see metro trains running on the surface and that IS a growing area,. So I don't think you will see subways go the way of the Dodo any time soon. But I would not expect them in old cities as much as I would in modern cities with lower density.
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Old July 29th, 2005, 07:01 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by ssiguy2
Except in large cities with high density Subways should no longer be that..underground. The further you go from a core the less likely this is needed.
Extensive subway networks have never been built in low-density cities, so I don't get your point. Moreover, most major metros already use a combination of transit systems to satisfy the unique passenger characteristics of each line. Take Taipei for example, they have elevated LRT, subway heavy-rail, and future lines, now in the planning stage, will include at-grade LRV, and maglev. For major metropolitan areas subways are only one component of a complex, and diverse urban transportation system.
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Old July 29th, 2005, 07:02 AM   #26
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You could always use the 'original' underground construction method to save on costs.

Just dig a big ditch down various roads and cover them up, ala the Metropolitan line in London.

Still working okay too.
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Old July 29th, 2005, 03:56 PM   #27
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That's cut and cover. And that is why lower density cities - Atlanta, LA, etc. - are more likely to be able to explore underground metros. Agreed low density does differ between US and Europe.

I think the key is to differentiate between subway and metro. It is becoming easier to make stations and other facilities outdoors, so going underground is a little less needed. I think you also find at this moment that a large percentage of growing metropolitan areas, and those that do not already have a metro system - are in more temperate climates. Meaning above ground transportation is less objectionable. Plus we have improved our ability to build elevated structures more efficiently and more attractively.
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Old July 30th, 2005, 04:47 AM   #28
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Tunneling is the last resort for most transit agencies in the United States. In Seattle, surface light rail was not an option in the downtown area because the streets are narrow and cannot afford to lose traffic lanes. Plans to build a monorail through the downtown area have met resistance because of the visual blight created by the relatively narrow guideway beams. A 26' wide elevated railway viaduct through the downtown area would be a non-starter. As a result, Sound Transit has resorted to extensive tunneling for the Central Link light rail line. The tunneling has turned out to be more difficult than expected:

1. The Beacon Hill Station that is in the initial phases of construction may have to be relocated to avoid a pocket of poor soils.

2. The future Brooklyn Station is in doubt because a large office complex is to be built on the station site.

3. The future First Hill Station is to be eliminated because it is too deep and is located in a pocket of poor soils.

Los Angeles has also had problems in building subway tunnels. Congress banned the construction of subway tunnels in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles due to concerns of methane gas escaping from hydrocarbon deposits. Los Angeles voters approved a referendum prohibiting the use of sales tax revenue for further subway construction due to ground subsidence and other problems encountered in building the Red Line metro.

For more details on the tunneling problems faced by Seattle's Central Link light rail line, see the following news stories:


Journal Staff Reporter

Shifting sands and shifting corporate headquarters are giving Sound Transit's light-rail division headaches.

The transit agency is looking at moving its subterranean Beacon Hill rail station 88 feet to the west to avoid an area of loose, sandy soil it discovered deep underground during construction of the station 165 feet below Beacon Hill.

Meanwhile, Safeco's plans to move 1,600 employees from Redmond to the University District have forced Sound Transit to reconsider the northern University District station site.

Safeco's doubling of its office space in the U-District, to begin next year, will rob Sound Transit of its staging area for building a station beneath Brooklyn Avenue Northeast, between Northeast 43rd and 45th streets, at a later date.

Safeco and Sound Transit are negotiating whether they can jointly develop the site, but that could require the transit agency to come up with $40 million to $50 million to build an underground shell for the station before it has even asked taxpayers to fund light rail north of downtown Seattle.

Planners are now revisiting sites they and other stakeholders had rejected for the station: a "North Brooklyn" site on Brooklyn between Northeast 45th and 47th streets and one beneath the northwest corner of the University of Washington campus, just east of 15th Avenue Northeast.

The North Brooklyn site, opposed by the U-District community, could displace up to 30 businesses, 18 housing units and a church.

The UW site, while supported in the past by the U-District community, would disrupt parking and expansion of the Burke Museum, and would require realigning train tracks beneath the campus. Such a shift would likely force new negotiations between the University and Sound Transit about how to protect sensitive research labs from disturbances by trains.

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl said she doesn't think negotiations can be concluded this summer if the alignment must be changed.

Beacon Hill

Light rail deputy director Joe Gildner told the agency's board of directors yesterday that crews are now making "great progress" digging under Beacon Hill but a series of 15 underground test holes revealed areas of flowing sand near the eastern end of the planned station platform.

He said those holes could only be drilled once houses and businesses above had been demolished.

To build the platform, train tunnels and supporting tubes in sandy areas, Sound Transit and prime contractor Obayashi have strenghtened sandy soils by injecting grout deep underground. But treating the newly discovered sandy areas would require an estimated $7 million to $8 million of jet-grouting on top of the $20 million already spent on the technique.

Perhaps more significantly on a $300 million contract, Sound Transit would have to close 17th Avenue South and have jet-grouting rigs working in the front yards of houses along the avenue.

Shifting the station to the west, where soils have more clay and less sand, would avoid the need for additional jet-grouting. "By making that shift we can avoid a lot of community impact," Gildner said.

Light rail director Ahmad Fazel said the shift would not affect the schedule for building the station, which is the "critical path" for the entire 14-mile rail line. If the Beacon Hill project falls behind schedule, the light rail line will not open on time.

Fazel could not estimate what a change-work order might cost but said he did not expect it to cost much more than jet grouting would. The agency will design a shifted station by September and may present Obayashi with a change-work notice soon thereafter.

Obayashi has also proposed a time- and cost-saving measure at the Beacon Hill station: reducing three of four connector tunnels near the ends of the main platforms from 26 feet to 21 feet in diameter. The smaller diameter would allow a tunnel-boring machine to rapidly eat out the tunnel segments. Otherwise, the more laborious sequential excavation method would be required for the larger holes.

The tunnel-boring machine that will dig the tunnels leading to the station can advance at a clip of 40 to 50 feet a day.


Friday, July 29, 2005 - Page updated at 08:42 AM

Board cuts First Hill rail station

By Eric Pryne

Seattle Times staff reporter

A reluctant, almost apologetic Sound Transit board yesterday dropped First Hill from its plans for a light-rail line between downtown and the University of Washington.

The vote was 12-1, with Seattle City Councilman Richard McIver dissenting.

"This is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't vote," said Metropolitan King County Councilwoman Julia Patterson, D-SeaTac.

A deep-underground station in the dense, job-rich, pro-transit Seattle neighborhood had been part of Sound Transit's plans for nine years. Only in recent weeks did agency staff members raise serious questions about its construction risks, citing a recently completed analysis and the agency's experience excavating a similar station under Beacon Hill.

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl recommended Tuesday that the First Hill station be scrapped. "I understand nobody wants us to drop First Hill," she told the board yesterday. "I don't either."

Officially, the board won't make a final decision until at least December, after an environmental review is completed. But judging from most board members' comments, there was nothing tentative about yesterday's vote.

"We made a 100-year decision here today," said Metropolitan King County Councilman Larry Phillips, D-Seattle.

The decision could have political implications. Brian Parker, representing the board of a First Hill condominium, said he would vote and work against future Sound Transit ballot measures. State Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, whose district includes First Hill, said the neighborhood's past support for Sound Transit "will turn into opposition, even for my tax-loving constituents."

After the vote, King County Executive Ron Sims and McIver proposed that the agency take one more look at whether the First Hill station could be built using different methods or in a different location to reduce risks.

That motion was tabled until Aug. 11.

Sound Transit planners estimated eliminating the First Hill station would drop the cost of the downtown-university line from $1.85 billion to $1.5 billion. But Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said that "even if we had enough money, the construction-related risks of the First Hill station would put the entire project at risk."

What's more, he added, retaining First Hill could cost $1 billion because it would threaten $650 million in federal grants the agency is counting on to build the line.

The Bush administration has recently tightened cost-effectiveness requirements for projects seeking federal money. Sound Transit says that, with a First Hill station, the project wouldn't qualify.

Board and staff members vowed to look at other ways to improve transit service to First Hill, including exclusive bus lanes and priority for buses at traffic signals. Phillips offered a new idea: a rail shuttle in a short, shallow tunnel between First Hill and the proposed Capitol Hill light-rail station.

McIver argued the board was making its decision too hastily. First Hill, a major employment center, was being "irrevocably ripped from the system with a two-day notice," he said.

But Metropolitan King County Councilman Dwight Pelz, D-Seattle, who is running against McIver for City Council, called the vote "an act of leadership. ... We are making a decision today to move light rail forward."

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or [email protected]

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


Last edited by greg_christine; July 30th, 2005 at 04:53 AM.
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Old July 30th, 2005, 11:04 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by IloveGeorgeBush
It's expensive because the transit companies are too poor to pay for maintenece costs.
Please, do not confuse operations and construction. Those are two different things.

The main reason why the costs have gone up so high, is as someone above mentioned the requirements of all the different government agencies to approve the project. This turns into political bickering and, in the end, you get a lot of compromises, which result in a very increased cost. While unionized labor is a part of the "problem" (if you want to call it that), I see on a day-to-day basis that politics plays a far greater role in construction costs than anything else.
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Old July 30th, 2005, 11:31 AM   #30
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Sigh....I wish subway construction is as easy as what you would see in Simcity. Just point, drag and click. Granted its more expensive but I agree with the posters here that much of the costs has more to do with all these compromises and political bickering. It would be nice if we should just leave politics aside and for once just plan and build things right! Tunnel only when necessary and always think of the needs of the many vs the needs of the few.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 04:56 AM   #31
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São Paulo´s metro costs on average US$100 million per kilometer. I bet that´s one of the most expensive in the world. And labour in Brazil is some 4 times cheaper than Europe. It´s mostly the technology involved, plus having to buy property to build some stations, create ventilation shafts and train yards. Plus the fact that contracts are always awarded to the same old fat construction companies that charge gazillions.

How much does the Km cost around the world?
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Old September 10th, 2005, 06:59 AM   #32
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I guess it also has to do alot with technique. Toronto's first subway was created by closing of the road, digging from above ground and doing what they had to do. I know now they don't do that im most if not all places, but might be a good reason why many of the western subway systems haven't expanded greatly over the last decades.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 07:35 AM   #33
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Most people here have only mentioned the economic and environmental issues that tunnel construction creates. BobDaBuilder mentioned earlier that cut and cover could be an option. The problem that cut and cover often creates is that they cause massive disruption to either traffic and/or people's lives.

The Metropolitan line was built just below the surface, but many buildings had to be demolished to make way for parts of it. If this sort of procedure was undertaken in today's world, particularly the developed world where people have more say, it would cause an absolute uproar. It isn't just buildings that end up being moved and displaced, but also the homes and workplaces of many people. Those are the social costs of extensively using the "Cut and Cover" method of tunnel construction.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 08:13 AM   #34
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^ Yeah, but London is a city essentially without street grid, so the subways couldn't be built under the roads to the same extent as they could in NY, where, as far as I know, there wasn't any significant demolition when cut & cover was used.
BTW, the Second Ave Subway would cost about $16.8 billion for 8.5 miles, almost $2 billion / mile ($1.2 billion / km). I believe it would be deep level all the way.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 04:25 PM   #35
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1,2 BILLION DOLLARS PER KM? That´s 12 times more than São Paulo!!!Well, that´s propably due to the high cost of touching Manhattan. Does anyone have metro construction costs for other cities? Let´s make a comparison.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 05:59 PM   #36
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I wonder how did the original London subway was built.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 07:40 PM   #37
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In 1863 the Metroplitan line as opened. It was designed to link all the main London rail termini on the North side London. Despite ending up costing twice the origianal budget it was considered a huge financial success. The line followed the Marleybone road which is the first wide avenue North of the centre of Town. The huge construction project involved cut and cover with much demotlition. Initiallly steam trains ran underground and the smoke escaped through large open air sections (hence all the building demotion). With this success further sub-surface lines were built with extensions to the Metroplitan line reaching into suburbs and the new district line following the North Bank of the river under the new embankment road. This involved reclaiming a large stretch of the Thames foreshore. In the 1890's the first deep tube line linking the city with Clapham. as the years passed the deep tube lines followed mainly in the central area, where the passenger numbers were and so they did not compete with the private commuter networks of rail companies. In the 20's this changed as limes were extended into the new suburbs. Often the new tube extensions opened vasr swathes of countryside to new devlopment. North West London was often described as Metroland alongside the suburban extensions of the Metroploitan line.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 07:57 PM   #38
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One of the reasons the last metro extension was so expensive, was that the Stations are very elaborate and large. This was partly a response to the report into 1987 Kings Cross Fire, which recommended that all new stations should have at least two seperate entrances so that in the event of fire no one is trapped below ground. So if you have to build two exits you might as well have an extra ticket hall and more escalators. But also it was felt that the last new line in London, the Victoria line was not built with enough capacity. It has ended up being one of the cities busiest lines. At major stations, they often have close the station to allow the platforms to clear so that is safe. The proposed solutions to this capacity problem is proving very expensive. For example to raise capacity at Victoria station by building a second Ticket Hall as well as expanding the existing one and sinking two new escalator shfts for 6 more escalotors will cost a cool £500 million. Rebuilding Camden Town (3 new escalators and a new subtaranean interchange hall with more escalators and Tottenham Court Road (3 more escalotors and extra ticket hall) will be in excess of £200 million each. So if you going to build a new subway you might as well future proof it. For example the Jubille line in effect increased the nuber of escalators on the underground by 50%.
The problem is that this approach makes it so expensive to build a new line, will any government fund them? The new crossrail line will be in excess of £10 billion (if built).
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Old November 24th, 2005, 04:29 PM   #39
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MISC | How much does your subway cost to build?

How much does your cost per km? Here in São Paulo and in other Brazilian cities with underground rail, like Rio or Brasília and Fortaleza in the future, it costs an average of US$100 million/km, though if you count only the underground sections, it would be more like US$130 million/km or more.

The new Line 4-Yellow of São Paulo will cost US$1,3 BILLION for some 11km including cost of trains and train yard.

What about in your country?????
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Old November 24th, 2005, 04:51 PM   #40
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Same here: EUR 1,5 billion for a stretch of 8,5 kilometers (not even entirely underground) in Amsterdam...
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