Transportation headlines, Monday, Nov. 21

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

Taking first-class coddling above-and-beyond (New York Times)

If you need another reason to hate flying — and I don’t — read this. The article covers some of the ways that airlines, while cutting basic services for coach passengers, are competing to lure the wealthiest of business executives. Among those: ferrying them by limo from the airport to the airplane seconds before the doors shut and special access to immigration officials so customers isn’t such a hassle. Thank you, Air France. And when the revolution comes, I hope you’re not surprised.

Click above to open pdf version of Metro's mailer.

Metro does mailings! (L.A. Streetsblog)

Metro has mailed its latest fact sheet to addresses in Beverly Hills, Century City and portions of Westwood that summarize the two reports released in October on seismic and tunneling issues in those areas. One local newspaper that has been railing against the possibility of the project tunneling under part of the Beverly Hills High campus declared its learning of the mailers was a scoop and that it had obtained a copy. Streetsblog editor’s Damien Newton’s response: please. Would you like to obtain a copy? Click on the page from the pamphlet at right for the pdf version of the four-pager or click here to read it on a web page.

U.N. agency: carbon dioxide at record levels (NPR/Associated Press)

Here’s the news: “The new figures for 2010 from the World Meteorological Organization show that CO2 levels are now at 389 parts per million, up from about 280 parts per million a quarter-millenium ago [the year 1750]. The levels are significant because the gases trap heat in the atmosphere.” Attentive readers already know that CO2 is a big-time byproduct of burning fossil fuels such as gasoline and that mass transit creates less greenhouse gases than do single-passenger cars, according to this study from the federal government.

Council votes to replace 6th Street Bridge (L.A. Times)

As expected, the Los Angeles City Council voted to replace the crumbling current double-arch structure with a cable-supported bridge. I know this has gotten a lot of attention, but I’ve had a hard time over the years seeing the current bridge as an architectural gem. It’s certainly a familiar structure, but that’s about it — at least in my book. Construction could begin in three years and take four years to complete, during which time the bridge would be closed. Traffic!

Pacific Surfliner gets $21 million to begin second track work (Neon Tommy)

The feds have awarded the money to begin the environmental studies of adding a second track in some stretches of San Diego County where there’s only a single track, which slows trains down considerably. And, again, I raise the question I raised the other day: what’s the cost of speeding up Amtrak versus building an entirely new high-speed rail project?



7 replies

  1. I don’t necessarily understand the distaste for the first class traveler wooing.

    Perhaps one could argue that these individuals would better serve the economy by investing said money and not flying first class, but one man’s luxury is another man’s profit, and I think the airline companies could use more profit these days (they always seem to be hanging by a thread between bankruptcy and solvency).

  2. Steveland you are bang on! Not only must we get California Intercity rail up to the standards of France in the 1960’s when “Le Mistral” was their fastest high-speed train and did Paris-Nice (675 miles) in 9 hours, before we entertain thoughts of doing that kind of distance in the 5.5 hours TGV does it in today, we must also grow a railroading culture so as to have the workers available to operate and maintain these trains and railways.

    For reference, the California-Oregon Border is about 675 miles from LA. And of course the French are working on a railway that will allow the TGV to cover that distance in just under 4 hours. Sigh.

  3. Many of the actions it would take to upgrade the existing system and connect the routes together are already in the works and starved for funding, and not to forget would carry with them immediate benefits to the commutes of today on some of the most successful rail lines in the country.

  4. Steve, I’ve wondered myself about the costs of upgrading our existing infrastructure to how you put it previously “to third world standards” and beyond to say, maybe France in the 1960s.

    I propose augmenting the existing ROWs (right of ways) and connecting them which will result in the lowest amount of land acquisition by imminent domain or other means (buying).

    Here’s what it might look like for us…

    Los Angeles and Southern California–
    Los Angeles Union Station Run-Through tracks installed for 2 platforms/ 4 tracks over the 101 to meet up with the mainline toward San Diego.
    Triple or quadruple track the entire 350-mile LOSSAN (San Luis Obispo-Los Angeles-San Diego) intermodal corridor for improved access and speeds by MetroLink, Amtrak, and freight railroad operators. Quadruple track will facilitate local access and express train (slow train/fast train)passing. Also straighten the alignment of and triple or quadruple track the existing MetroLink Antelope Valley Line to a new super wide double track single bore tunnel for passenger service only to the Central Valley then (freight can continue to use the Tehachapi Loop).

    The Central Valley and North California–

    The tunnel and the tracks it carries will meet up with the right of way to Bakersfield to connect with the Amtrak San Joaquin. On a budget these tracks can be upgraded adding a triple track to the existing terminus in Oakland and Sacramento.
    Realizing the dream: tracks from Fresno divert to a new Interstate 5 adjacent railroad right of way that is double or triple tracked that punches through the mountains to the 101 and meets up with the CalTrain right of way from Gilroy to the San Francisco Transbay Terminal which ought to be upgraded to triple tracked for increased intermodal operation.

    With the tracks, new bridges and tunnels in place a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco ought to be possible in a reasonable amount of time and without delay thanks to the triple tracks for passing and intermodal operation (commuter, intercity, and freight). These tracks could carry today’s rolling stock, then you electrify the whole system and rolling stock in phases: Surfliner route, then the San Joaquin route, then bridge the gap for a fully electrified route.

    The cost–
    Retrofitting the existing system to work in the end will cost a magnitude of less money than nearly $100 billion. Nothing will be wasted or duplicated and all of the cards will be looked at for moving people and cargo in the most efficient method through the state on rail all the while decreasing airplane trips, cars and semis on the highways, lowering carbon emissions, and connecting the 3 parts of the state with ease like never before seen. I see it as connecting two of the most successful intercity routes in the country through investment to make the case for a true alternative to flying or driving.

    The benefit–
    The resulting system will bear a resemblance to at worst British HSR rail (124 mph) or better German InterCityExpress high speed rail (up to 186 mph).
    But the repaired image for the project and thriftiness with the dollar could make the case for a branch line to San Francisco and Sacramento on a better right of way with higher speeds through the Central Valley at up to 220 mph, or beyond!