Feds Support Use of Light Weight Trains!

4 views
Skip to first unread message

Merritt Mullen

unread,
Jul 12, 2007, 10:01:02 PM7/12/07
to
If I am reading this article from the San Mateo (CA) Daily News correctly,
this is really big news. Although the headline implies the news is about
electrification, the important issue is changing the FRA rules that
prohibit the use of world-class standard lightweight trains.

Merritt

//
Tuesday Jul 10
Feds backing Caltrain plans
Officials support proposal to switch to electric trains

By Shaun Bishop / San Mateo Daily News Staff Writer

Caltrain's efforts to become a model for modernized passenger rail service
in the United States have been progressing faster than the agency
anticipated.

Bob Doty, manager of rail operations for Caltrain, told the Redwood City
City Council Monday that federal regulators have been supportive in early
discussions about Caltrain's desire to pioneer the future of the U.S.
passenger rail system.

Caltrain would like to use lightweight electric trains instead of the
heavy diesel-based locomotives it runs now, but federal regulations
require that cars be encased in tons of steel in case they collide. They
also prohibit the modern lightweight cars from operating on the same
tracks as the aging locomotives.

The agency had discussions in March and again about three weeks ago with
top officials in the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit
Administration about changing those rules, Doty said.

He said the administrators were quickly supportive of Caltrain's goals and
suggested the agency is headed in the right direction. Caltrain officials
had thought it might have taken longer for regulators to come around, Doty
said.

"We were hoping to get there in 18 months and we got there in 10 minutes,"
Doty said. "It's looking positive so far."

The benefits of the modern cars are many, Doty said: quicker travel times,
more flexible train configurations, less track maintenance, lower fuel
costs.

But, "It is a very daunting task," said Council Member Jim Hartnett, a
member of Caltrain's Joint Powers Board.

Doty said Caltrain is confident it can get the required regulatory
approvals by the end of 2008 and be on track to introduce the system by
2014.

Mayor Barbara Pierce asked if Caltrain could serve more stops with the
newer systems.

Doty said that because the electric trains can start and stop more quickly
than the old locomotives, they can be run much closer together, which
could allow trains to be scheduled as frequently as every five minutes at
stations along the Peninsula.

The agency still has a way to go, but Doty was glowing with optimism from
the early signs of acceptance of the idea.

"It's a pretty exciting time and it's real. It's not a pipe dream. It's
real," Doty said.

For more information, visit:

www.caltrain.com/project2025.html.

william welner

unread,
Jul 13, 2007, 9:36:31 AM7/13/07
to
Merritt

What you are saying, Cartrains is proposing to replace its diesel powered
trains with electric powered lightweight trains similar to those used for
BART and other subway systems.

My comment is why not just electrify the current railroad by adding a 3rd
rail and(or) overhead wires similar to the electric powered AMTRAK passenger
trains and Commuter trains that operate over the AMTRAK NEC route and other
electrified rail lines that can operate with freight traffic under current
FRA rules?

Bill


"Merritt Mullen" <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote in message
news:mmullen8014-8129...@netnews.asp.att.net...

Stephen Sprunk

unread,
Jul 13, 2007, 10:33:53 AM7/13/07
to
"william welner" <wwel...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:zdLli.6633$rR...@newsread2.news.pas.earthlink.net...

> What you are saying, Cartrains is proposing to replace its diesel powered
> trains with electric powered lightweight trains similar to those used for
> BART and other subway systems.

I doubt they'll go that far. Doesn't CalTrain have grade crossings? HRT
equipment wouldn't fare well in an at-grade collision.

> My comment is why not just electrify the current railroad by adding a 3rd
> rail and(or) overhead wires similar to the electric powered AMTRAK
> passenger trains and Commuter trains that operate over the AMTRAK
> NEC route and other electrified rail lines that can operate with freight
> traffic under current FRA rules?

Because FRA cars are heavy, expensive, and slow. CalTrain is, I think,
talking about using UIC-compatible cars with 25kV/60Hz catenary. That would
allow for significantly faster service at lower cost, and would also mean
their line would be compatible with the future CA HSR system if/when it gets
built.

S

--
Stephen Sprunk "Those people who think they know everything
CCIE #3723 are a great annoyance to those of us who do."
K5SSS --Isaac Asimov


--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com

Merritt Mullen

unread,
Jul 13, 2007, 12:24:03 PM7/13/07
to
In article <zdLli.6633$rR...@newsread2.news.pas.earthlink.net>,
"william welner" <wwel...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> Merritt
>
> What you are saying, Cartrains is proposing to replace its diesel powered
> trains with electric powered lightweight trains similar to those used for
> BART and other subway systems.

First of all, I am not "saying" anything, I am just passing on a new
article.

Secondly, no, Caltrain is NOT proposing to use subway type vehicles. BART
already parallels Caltrain over much of its route and will probably be
extended to San Jose someday. HRT (heavy rail transit, i.e., subway type
vehicles), is not the same as commuter rail, i.e., standard rail cars
usable on the national rail network.

What Caltrain is operates is commuter rail, standard passenger rail cars
that are compatible with the national neetwork of railroads.



> My comment is why not just electrify the current railroad by adding a 3rd
> rail and(or) overhead wires similar to the electric powered AMTRAK passenger
> trains and Commuter trains that operate over the AMTRAK NEC route and other
> electrified rail lines that can operate with freight traffic under current
> FRA rules?

That is exactly the plan (overhead, not third rail), but that part is not
anything new and does not require the FRA to change their regulations.

What is new is the FRA agreeing that the current rules that prevent the
use of LIGHTWEIGHT passenger trains, such as are used in Europe and Asia
for commuter, regional and high-speed intercity service, need to be
revised. Until the rules are revised, US passenger rail can not operate
as efficiently as it does in the rest of the world, nor can the US use the
standard vehicle designs used in the rest of the world.

Merritt

rotten

unread,
Jul 13, 2007, 12:26:44 PM7/13/07
to

I'll agree with you on this point, the FRA is a fucking useless
regulatory agency.

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 13, 2007, 2:47:42 PM7/13/07
to
Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:
>"william welner" <wwel...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>>What you are saying, Cartrains is proposing to replace its diesel powered
>>trains with electric powered lightweight trains similar to those used for
>>BART and other subway systems.

>First of all, I am not "saying" anything, I am just passing on a new
>article.

>Secondly, no, Caltrain is NOT proposing to use subway type vehicles. BART
>already parallels Caltrain over much of its route and will probably be
>extended to San Jose someday.

In the Bay Area, the politics of BART versus Caltrain are vicious, unlike
anything seen elsewhere in the country. Can't be explained as a city versus
suburban war, since BART is mostly a suburban agency, not that San Francisco
is your typical central city and not that Oakland and Berkeley San Jose are
suburbs. I have no doubt that BART's ultimate goal is to reach Sacramento
if not Los Angeles and Seattle (ultimately Chicago) and wipe all public
transportation that competes for the same transit grants off the face of
the planet.

>HRT (heavy rail transit, i.e., subway type vehicles), is not the same as
>commuter rail, i.e., standard rail cars usable on the national rail network.

>What Caltrain is operates is commuter rail, standard passenger rail cars
>that are compatible with the national neetwork of railroads.

In FRA's view, any noncompliant equipment is subway stock.

>>My comment is why not just electrify the current railroad by adding a
>>3rd rail and(or) overhead wires similar to the electric powered AMTRAK
>>passenger trains and Commuter trains that operate over the AMTRAK NEC
>>route and other electrified rail lines that can operate with freight
>>traffic under current FRA rules?

>That is exactly the plan (overhead, not third rail), but that part is not
>anything new and does not require the FRA to change their regulations.

Is it? I'd assume they'd choose an AC electrification that's incompatible
with the Corridor so they'd need substations only every 15 miles or so.

>What is new is the FRA agreeing that the current rules that prevent the
>use of LIGHTWEIGHT passenger trains, such as are used in Europe and Asia
>for commuter, regional and high-speed intercity service, need to be
>revised. Until the rules are revised, US passenger rail can not operate
>as efficiently as it does in the rest of the world, nor can the US use the
>standard vehicle designs used in the rest of the world.

Damn, you're optimistic. In FRA's world, maybe you get a waiver, but the
next agency that uses the grant of waiver in support of its application
for very similar circumstances will be denied. Everybody is afraid of
getting the same treatment that New Jersey got for Camden-Trenton line.

Merritt Mullen

unread,
Jul 13, 2007, 8:46:41 PM7/13/07
to
In article <4697c8ce$0$97245$892e...@authen.yellow.readfreenews.net>,
"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:

> Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:

> >Secondly, no, Caltrain is NOT proposing to use subway type vehicles. BART
> >already parallels Caltrain over much of its route and will probably be
> >extended to San Jose someday.
>
> In the Bay Area, the politics of BART versus Caltrain are vicious, unlike
> anything seen elsewhere in the country. Can't be explained as a city versus
> suburban war, since BART is mostly a suburban agency, not that San Francisco
> is your typical central city and not that Oakland and Berkeley San Jose are
> suburbs. I have no doubt that BART's ultimate goal is to reach Sacramento
> if not Los Angeles and Seattle (ultimately Chicago) and wipe all public
> transportation that competes for the same transit grants off the face of
> the planet.

You are probably right about that!

The Capital Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), who runs the Capitol
Corridor trains between Sacramento and San Jose is managed by BART. So,
in a sense, BART already runs to Sacramento (and a bit beyond). BART is
making noises about operating other types of services as well (like EMU,
DMU, light rail).

Caltrain is operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB),
which, as far as I know, has no connection with BART. Caltrain's
advantage is it can get someone to downtown San Francisco a hell of a lot
faster than BART.


<snip>


> >That is exactly the plan (overhead, not third rail), but that part is not
> >anything new and does not require the FRA to change their regulations.
>
> Is it? I'd assume they'd choose an AC electrification that's incompatible
> with the Corridor so they'd need substations only every 15 miles or so.

They plan to use 25 kV AC with 3 substations. Incompatible with what
corridor, the NEC? Does it matter? Hopefully, it will be compatible with
the CA HSR system which will share the ROW, if it is ever built.



> Damn, you're optimistic. In FRA's world, maybe you get a waiver, but the
> next agency that uses the grant of waiver in support of its application
> for very similar circumstances will be denied. Everybody is afraid of
> getting the same treatment that New Jersey got for Camden-Trenton line.

Here is the part of the article regarding the use of non-compliant
light-weight equipment that makes me optimistic:

"The agency [Caltrain] had discussions in March and again about three

weeks ago with top officials in the Federal Railroad Administration and
Federal Transit Administration about changing those rules, Doty said.

He said the administrators were quickly supportive of Caltrain's goals
and suggested the agency is headed in the right direction. Caltrain
officials had thought it might have taken longer for regulators to come
around, Doty said.

"We were hoping to get there in 18 months and we got there in 10
minutes," Doty said. "It's looking positive so far."

//

Yes, I realize those are only words, and that is a long way from actually
changing the FRA regs, but you have to admit it sounds good.

Merritt

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 13, 2007, 9:45:09 PM7/13/07
to
Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:
>"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:
>>Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:

>>>Secondly, no, Caltrain is NOT proposing to use subway type vehicles. BART
>>>already parallels Caltrain over much of its route and will probably be
>>>extended to San Jose someday.

>>In the Bay Area, the politics of BART versus Caltrain are vicious, unlike
>>anything seen elsewhere in the country. Can't be explained as a city versus
>>suburban war, since BART is mostly a suburban agency, not that San Francisco
>>is your typical central city and not that Oakland and Berkeley San Jose are
>>suburbs. I have no doubt that BART's ultimate goal is to reach Sacramento
>>if not Los Angeles and Seattle (ultimately Chicago) and wipe all public
>>transportation that competes for the same transit grants off the face of
>>the planet.

>You are probably right about that!

>The Capital Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), who runs the Capitol
>Corridor trains between Sacramento and San Jose is managed by BART.

I don't know how that came about 10 years ago. Didn't Amtrak bid? Or did
BART make an offer that couldn't be refused?

>Caltrain is operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB),
>which, as far as I know, has no connection with BART.

The enemy. BART extended to the airport so Caltrain couldn't.

>Caltrain's advantage is it can get someone to downtown San Francisco a
>hell of a lot faster than BART.

And let's not forget which agency has generally cheaper capital costs.

>>>That is exactly the plan (overhead, not third rail), but that part is not
>>>anything new and does not require the FRA to change their regulations.

>>Is it? I'd assume they'd choose an AC electrification that's incompatible
>>with the Corridor so they'd need substations only every 15 miles or so.

>They plan to use 25 kV AC with 3 substations. Incompatible with what
>corridor, the NEC? Does it matter?

We won't even mention how many different incompatibilities there are in
the electrified northeast.

>Hopefully, it will be compatible with the CA HSR system which will share
>the ROW, if it is ever built.

I didn't know that they'd expressed a preference for propulsion.

>>Damn, you're optimistic. In FRA's world, maybe you get a waiver, but the
>>next agency that uses the grant of waiver in support of its application
>>for very similar circumstances will be denied. Everybody is afraid of
>>getting the same treatment that New Jersey got for Camden-Trenton line.

>Here is the part of the article regarding the use of non-compliant

>light-weight equipment that makes me optimistic . . .

>Yes, I realize those are only words, and that is a long way from actually
>changing the FRA regs, but you have to admit it sounds good.

Sure does, but we've all heard the same empty promises from FRA to apply
common sense before.

Philip Nasadowski

unread,
Jul 13, 2007, 10:25:30 PM7/13/07
to
In article <mmullen8014-99DD...@netnews.asp.att.net>,
Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:

> They plan to use 25 kV AC with 3 substations.

They consulted with NJT, who told them to go even higher (27kv or more).
NJT's successfully run their Hoboken division at 27.6 for years now, the
only real difference is the insulation class goes up a bit and the
insulators are noticeably larger as a result.

The Hoboken electrification, for all the criticism it gets, works very
nicely, and is remarkably flexible, to the point where NJT can patch
around almost any type of issue. Pricey, yes, but it's remarkably
robust.

> Incompatible with what corridor, the NEC?

The 25hz portion, and MN (though that could be a tap change). Big deal.
It's incompatible with the BM&LP's 50kv system, too. nobody cares about
THAT, though...

> Does it matter?

No. Theoretically, the wire/pan standards should be, but that assumes a
nationwide electrification, which isn't going to happen anyway. you
might see cali do something in that direction, but unless the Class Is
change their attitude, you won't see it elsewhere.

> Hopefully, it will be compatible with
> the CA HSR system which will share the ROW, if it is ever built.

God, they were talking about that thing when I was in High School, as if
it was just around the corner...



> Here is the part of the article regarding the use of non-compliant
> light-weight equipment that makes me optimistic:
>
> "The agency [Caltrain] had discussions in March and again about three
> weeks ago with top officials in the Federal Railroad Administration and
> Federal Transit Administration about changing those rules, Doty said.
>
> He said the administrators were quickly supportive of Caltrain's goals
> and suggested the agency is headed in the right direction. Caltrain
> officials had thought it might have taken longer for regulators to come
> around, Doty said.

My guess is they either came to their senses, or time seperation waivers
are as easy as Cracker Jack prizes to get, these days. Neither's bad,
they'll both force the rule changes in the end.



> "We were hoping to get there in 18 months and we got there in 10
> minutes," Doty said. "It's looking positive so far."

I suspect Caltrain's ownership of the line was their ace in the hole -
if the FRA didn't cave in, they just boot UP from the line.



> Yes, I realize those are only words, and that is a long way from actually
> changing the FRA regs, but you have to admit it sounds good.

Frankly, if the FRA moves to allow UIC equipment if a line has a
positive stop type signaling system (LZB, Indusi, etc), and ALL TRAINS
use it (which is northeast practice for years now), that's enough to
open things up. Though, IMHO, any passenger line, FRA compliant or not,
in the US, should have such a system anyway. The bigger question is
does the industry pick a standard, reinvent the wheel yet again, or what.

Oh yeah: watch Austin. They're going to be using GTW 2/8s (4/8?) in
service pretty soon. Those trains are pretty freaking remarkable units.
I wouldn't mind seeing the FLIRT hit north America, either...

(Did Stadler like, buy Budd's soul or something?)

Miles Bader

unread,
Jul 13, 2007, 11:13:22 PM7/13/07
to
Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> writes:
> Caltrain is operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB),
> which, as far as I know, has no connection with BART. Caltrain's
> advantage is it can get someone to downtown San Francisco a hell of a lot
> faster than BART.

How often/late do BART trains run?

When I stayed in SV before (without a car), I was rather dismayed by the
caltrain service: it ran quite rarely and stopped too early in offpeak
times; in general the service really didn't seem acceptable for a
general transporation system.

Of course as far as I know it's not trying to be that -- rather it seems
to be a commuter system for 9-to-5 workers in SF -- but for that reason,
I'm thinking that having a BART line as well would be quite welcome.

-Miles

--
Saa, shall we dance? (from a dance-class advertisement)

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 13, 2007, 11:14:15 PM7/13/07
to
Philip Nasadowski <nasa...@usermale.com> wrote:
>Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:

>>They plan to use 25 kV AC with 3 substations.

>They consulted with NJT, who told them to go even higher (27kv or more).
>NJT's successfully run their Hoboken division at 27.6 for years now, the
>only real difference is the insulation class goes up a bit and the
>insulators are noticeably larger as a result.

>The Hoboken electrification, for all the criticism it gets, works very
>nicely, and is remarkably flexible, to the point where NJT can patch
>around almost any type of issue. Pricey, yes, but it's remarkably
>robust.

Can you clarify a bit? What were they criticized for? What's the
advantage of that particular voltage?

>>Incompatible with what corridor, the NEC?

>The 25hz portion, and MN (though that could be a tap change). Big deal.
>It's incompatible with the BM&LP's 50kv system, too. nobody cares about
>THAT, though...

Wouldn't a 50 kV system be better?

>>Hopefully, it will be compatible with the CA HSR system which will share
>>the ROW, if it is ever built.

>God, they were talking about that thing when I was in High School, as if
>it was just around the corner...

Poor Merritt, probably wasted his high school years in school, rather
than roaming the country chasing trains before it was all gone...

>>Here is the part of the article regarding the use of non-compliant
>>light-weight equipment that makes me optimistic:

>> "The agency [Caltrain] had discussions in March and again about three
>>weeks ago with top officials in the Federal Railroad Administration and
>>Federal Transit Administration about changing those rules, Doty said.

>> He said the administrators were quickly supportive of Caltrain's goals
>>and suggested the agency is headed in the right direction. Caltrain
>>officials had thought it might have taken longer for regulators to come
>>around, Doty said.

>My guess is they either came to their senses, or time seperation waivers
>are as easy as Cracker Jack prizes to get, these days. Neither's bad,
>they'll both force the rule changes in the end.

What date did you select in the "When Hell freezes over" pool?

>> "We were hoping to get there in 18 months and we got there in 10
>>minutes," Doty said. "It's looking positive so far."

>I suspect Caltrain's ownership of the line was their ace in the hole -
>if the FRA didn't cave in, they just boot UP from the line.

Of course that's not legal.

>>Yes, I realize those are only words, and that is a long way from actually
>>changing the FRA regs, but you have to admit it sounds good.

>Frankly, if the FRA moves to allow UIC equipment if a line has a
>positive stop type signaling system (LZB, Indusi, etc), and ALL TRAINS
>use it (which is northeast practice for years now), that's enough to
>open things up. Though, IMHO, any passenger line, FRA compliant or not,
>in the US, should have such a system anyway. The bigger question is
>does the industry pick a standard, reinvent the wheel yet again, or what.

You missed the irony in that comment.

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 13, 2007, 11:56:34 PM7/13/07
to
Miles Bader <mi...@gnu.org> wrote:
>Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> writes:

>>Caltrain is operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB),
>>which, as far as I know, has no connection with BART. Caltrain's
>>advantage is it can get someone to downtown San Francisco a hell of a lot
>>faster than BART.

>How often/late do BART trains run?

http://bart.gov/stations/schedules/lineSchedules.asp

BART runs on 20 minute headways, 20 hours a day; originally, it was 15
minute headways. BART's two main routes are Daly City - Pittsburg/Bay
Point and Richmond - Fremont. These are supplemented by Millbrae/SFO -
Dublin/Pleasanton (20-minute headways, 20 hours a day) overlapping all
of the Daly City branch and part of the Fremont branch. Also, Daly City -
Fremont and Daly City - Richmond (20 minute headways, 13 hours a day). During
much of the day, the effective headway on the Daly City branch resembles
respectable rapid transit headways. Oakland is the major transfer station,
but since headways are designed for the limitations of operating in the
Trans Bay Tubes, always anticipate a 20-minute wait when making a connection.

>When I stayed in SV before (without a car), I was rather dismayed by the
>caltrain service: it ran quite rarely and stopped too early in offpeak
>times; in general the service really didn't seem acceptable for a
>general transporation system.

>Of course as far as I know it's not trying to be that -- rather it seems
>to be a commuter system for 9-to-5 workers in SF -- but for that reason,
>I'm thinking that having a BART line as well would be quite welcome.

Caltrains should have much closer headways than it does. Now, I don't
think electrification is necessary in order for them to achieve this,
but they do. Conversely, unless they can get funding (over BART's dead
body) for much closer headways, there is no justification for
electrification.

What BART's map leaves off is the Bay Area's difficult geography, which
would help one to understand why extending BART beyond Daly City was
such a horrid project. Also from the map, you'd notice that Caltrains
serves a highly populated area and was just a stone's through from SFO
and on the correct side of all that incredibly difficult geography,
which no one but a federally funded railroad would have built across.

Whoops! No, according to THAT map, Caltrains does not exist.

As infrequently as Caltrains runs compared to BART, it used to be a lot
worse.

How many times have I run into this same argument. No one can conceive
of respectable headways for commuter rail because commuter rail today
doesn't run at respectable headways. Rapid transit offers the headways
we want, so we favor extending the rapid transit route even though
extending the commuter rail route would be significantly cheaper.

Commuter rail has hourly headways, but it's not due to a technological
impediment.

Merritt Mullen

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 1:28:25 AM7/14/07
to
In article <46984972$0$97259$892e...@authen.yellow.readfreenews.net>,

"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:

> Commuter rail has hourly headways, but it's not due to a technological
> impediment.

On weekdays, Caltrain runs 48 trains a day, in each direction (96 total
daily trains). During off-peak hours, a train departs (in each direction)
every half hour. During rush hour there is a 5-minute headway between
trains going in the same direction. I an not sure why anyone would think
that was too infrequent.

Weekends has hourly service in each direction from 7 am until midnight.

The big advantage of electrification in not to reduce headway, but to
increase average speed because of the better acceleration of electric
trains. This equates to better equipment utilization, as well as happier
customers who get to their destination faster.

Merritt

Merritt Mullen

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 1:47:06 AM7/14/07
to
In article <46983f87$0$97269$892e...@authen.yellow.readfreenews.net>,

"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:

> Poor Merritt, probably wasted his high school years in school, rather
> than roaming the country chasing trains before it was all gone...

Yeah, poor me, when I was in HS, I was forced to ride behind Long Island
RR steam engines (at least as far as Jamaica, it was electric from there).
On the NEC, I had to ride behind GG-1s. I guess when I was riding the New
Haven between Boston and NY (1952-1956) it was diesel from Boston to New
Haven, and electric from there into NY (Penn or Central, depending on the
train).

Some time in the mid-50s, my buddy and I took a tour (by automobile)
around the Northeast to photograph steam engines. We drove from Long
Island up through NH/VT, visited the St Johnsbury and Lamoille County (as
well as CV and B&M), then into Canada for the CN and CP, over to Niagara
Falls and into Ohio, where the B&O was running heavy steam, then down to
WV and VA for the VGN and N&W (which was 100% steam, including the Jawn
Henry steam turbine).

I have posted most of the shots from that trip on a.b.p.r.

Merritt

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 1:50:03 AM7/14/07
to
Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:

>On weekdays, Caltrain runs 48 trains a day, in each direction (96 total
>daily trains). During off-peak hours, a train departs (in each direction)
>every half hour.

That's a tremendous improvement. What did SP used to run, five pair of
trains off peak, with no weekend service at all?

>The big advantage of electrification in not to reduce headway,

Not my argument at all. Actually, unless the schedule were improved a
bit more, I don't see how electrification is justified.

>but to increase average speed because of the better acceleration of
>electric trains.

Under a scenario in which Caltrain could purchase off-the-shelf European
consists with minor alterations, then the argument is moot. They'd have
a selection of DMUs to choose from in which acceleration and, more
importantly, deceleration, is improved over today's passenger engines
hauling trailers. They aren't proposing to electrify to use American MUs
in revenue service.

Stephen Sprunk

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 1:56:41 AM7/14/07
to
"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote in message
news:46984972$0$97259$892e...@authen.yellow.readfreenews.net...

> Caltrains should have much closer headways than it does. Now, I don't
> think electrification is necessary in order for them to achieve this,
> but they do. Conversely, unless they can get funding (over BART's
> dead body) for much closer headways, there is no justification for
> electrification.
> ...

> How many times have I run into this same argument. No one can
> conceive of respectable headways for commuter rail because commuter
> rail today doesn't run at respectable headways. Rapid transit offers the
> headways we want, so we favor extending the rapid transit route even
> though extending the commuter rail route would be significantly cheaper.
>
> Commuter rail has hourly headways, but it's not due to a technological
> impediment.

CalTrain already runs respectable headways: 30min off-peak and 5min to 15min
peak. That's comparable to many "rapid transit" systems, such as BART, and
what makes it possible is double (or more) track, not electrification.

The point of electrification and lighter cars is better acceleration, which
provides the higher average speeds necessary to attract more riders. Higher
average speeds may have the side effect of allowing more runs (i.e. lower
headways) with the same amount of equipment, but that's secondary.

Another problem with CalTrain is that it's a single line, not a network of
lines, and is only half-heartedly connected in with the other area transit
systems. There should be more connections to and cross-fares with Muni,
BART, SCVTA, ACE, etc. And, of course, those systems _should_ have all used
compatible technology so that various routes could be interlined, providing
more one-seat ride options. Yes, part of that is/was FRA, but CalTrain and
ACE (and Amtrak) could be mixed, and Muni/BART/SCVTA should have been mixed
as well, and none of that is/was blocked by the FRA or technology but rather
by local politics.

Merritt Mullen

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 2:02:05 AM7/14/07
to
In article <46982aa5$0$97259$892e...@authen.yellow.readfreenews.net>,

"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:

> Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:
> >"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:
> >>Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:
>
> >>>Secondly, no, Caltrain is NOT proposing to use subway type vehicles. BART
> >>>already parallels Caltrain over much of its route and will probably be
> >>>extended to San Jose someday.
>
> >>In the Bay Area, the politics of BART versus Caltrain are vicious, unlike
> >>anything seen elsewhere in the country. Can't be explained as a city versus
> >>suburban war, since BART is mostly a suburban agency, not that San Francisco
> >>is your typical central city and not that Oakland and Berkeley San Jose are
> >>suburbs. I have no doubt that BART's ultimate goal is to reach Sacramento
> >>if not Los Angeles and Seattle (ultimately Chicago) and wipe all public
> >>transportation that competes for the same transit grants off the face of
> >>the planet.
>
> >You are probably right about that!
>
> >The Capital Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), who runs the Capitol
> >Corridor trains between Sacramento and San Jose is managed by BART.
>
> I don't know how that came about 10 years ago. Didn't Amtrak bid? Or did
> BART make an offer that couldn't be refused?

Before that happened, Caltrans (CA DoT) and Amtrak ran the San Joaquins,
Capitol Corridor, and San Diegan trains as "Amtrak California", a
"partnership between Amtrak and Caltrans." As the regional service grew
in ridership and popularity, the Republican governor at the time was
looking for a way to get the state out of the passenger train business and
return Caltrans to a highway department. He came up with the idea of
requiring each of the three regional services to form a Joint Powers
Authority (JPA) of the local counties in which the services operated.
Implicit in that was that the counties would have to assume financial
responsibility for the cost of operating the trains. This was during a
period when the state was forcing all county revenues (property taxes,
etc.) to be sent to the state for the state to get first cut, so it was
clear that the counties had no money to operate passenger trains. It was
really a scheme to shut down the regional services and return to a pure
freeway form of the transportation.

As it turned out only BART took the bait. Always looking for a way to
expand their empire, the jumped at the chance to add the Capitol Corridor
to their operations. With regard to the San Joaquins and San Diegans (now
the Pacific Surfliners), the counties involved had no intention of falling
into that trap, so JPAs for those two services were never formed, and to
this day they are operated by Caltrans (in partnership with Amtrak).

If I remember correctly, California pays Amtrak about $60 million a year
(may be higher now) to operate the regional services in California (6 of
the 22 Pacific Surfliners are part of Amtrak's original network, so Amtrak
pays for those). Caltrans and the CCJPA also pay UP and BNSF for track
improvements to support the regional train service.

Merritt

Stephen Sprunk

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 2:14:59 AM7/14/07
to
"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote in message
news:46983f87$0$97269$892e...@authen.yellow.readfreenews.net...

> Philip Nasadowski <nasa...@usermale.com> wrote:
>>Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:
>>>Incompatible with what corridor, the NEC?
>
>>The 25hz portion, and MN (though that could be a tap change). Big deal.
>>It's incompatible with the BM&LP's 50kv system, too. nobody cares about
>>THAT, though...
>
> Wouldn't a 50 kV system be better?

TGV and ICE trains use 25kV/50Hz (among other things) and Shinkansen uses
25kV/60Hz. Amtrak uses 25kV/60Hz (among other things). 25kV is as close as
there is to a worldwide standard, and if it's sufficient for HSR, it's more
than sufficient for commuter rail. Even if one can justify something
different for technical reasons, the financial benefits of picking a
reasonable standard will almost always win.

50kV would, in theory, be better since it allows for lower currents and thus
lower losses. However, it would also require twice the clearance, larger
insulators, and (I think) larger on-board transformers. The real
competitors to 25kV are the various overhead DC options, but those aren't
likely to be compatible with the future HSR system, and it doesn't seem that
anyone, anywhere is installing new DC for freight-compatible lines. The
only reason to go the DC route would be for interlining with SCVTA and/or
Muni, which doesn't seem to be under consideration.

>>> "We were hoping to get there in 18 months and we got there in 10
>>>minutes," Doty said. "It's looking positive so far."
>
>>I suspect Caltrain's ownership of the line was their ace in the hole -
>>if the FRA didn't cave in, they just boot UP from the line.
>
> Of course that's not legal.

Why not? They own it. There's probably some loophole that allows them to
drop UP's trackage rights if they need to. Or, worst case, they could have
gone for time separation and given UP a window of a few hours overnight (a
la the River Line); it's not like it's a particularly long or
heavily-freight-trafficked line.

For all we know, what CalTrain and the FRA were discussing _was_ time
separation. The FRA has a track record of granting waivers for that, and it
wouldn't be surprising if their experience to date has made them much more
willing to grant (or even encourage) new instances than they were in the
past. It's no longer a "new" concept. What would be "new" is granting
waivers for mixing FRA freight and UIC passenger equipment, and there's no
indication in Merritt's article quote that that's what's under
consideration.

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 2:43:36 AM7/14/07
to

Did BART's governance expand to another county, or did the Capitol
Corridors Counties form the authority because BART lobbied its home
counties to kick in the necessary subsidy?

So how did Caltrains end up with a JPA? I understood that the state
never contracted for the operation of that service.

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 2:52:32 AM7/14/07
to
Stephen Sprunk <ste...@sprunk.org> wrote:

>The point of electrification and lighter cars is better acceleration, which
>provides the higher average speeds necessary to attract more riders. Higher
>average speeds may have the side effect of allowing more runs (i.e. lower
>headways) with the same amount of equipment, but that's secondary.

I'm making a different argument that electrification probably isn't
justified without more train service. But the big deal is the option to
use European train sets off the shelf with improved acceleration and
decelleration versus today's passenger locomotives. It doesn't
necessarily have to be European MUs under catenary.

>Another problem with CalTrain is that it's a single line, not a network of
>lines, and is only half-heartedly connected in with the other area transit
>systems.

It was my opinion that they should have built a network of rail starting
with what was there (at least in the '30's) in lieu of killing all of it but
the SP service and building BART which is designed to be incompatible with
everything else. Oh, we had a long discussion a few months back about how
my opinion of the capacity of Trans Bay Terminal was wrong and how we are
better off with the tubes rather than the ability to ride a train across
a spectacular set of bridges.

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 3:01:55 AM7/14/07
to
Stephen Sprunk <ste...@sprunk.org> wrote:
>"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:
>>Philip Nasadowski <nasa...@usermale.com> wrote:

>>>I suspect Caltrain's ownership of the line was their ace in the hole -
>>>if the FRA didn't cave in, they just boot UP from the line.

>>Of course that's not legal.

>Why not? They own it. There's probably some loophole that allows them to
>drop UP's trackage rights if they need to.

I doubt that very much.

>Or, worst case, they could have gone for time separation and given UP a
>window of a few hours overnight (a la the River Line); it's not like it's
>a particularly long or heavily-freight-trafficked line.

Because the windows make for horrid rail operations, since everything on
the railroad must cease operations, and all incompatible passenger
equipment must be off the line before turning it back into a real
railroad. A six-hour "real railroad" window may be required. Time
separation is the Worst Idea Ever, and I don't want to see any more
these imposed.

The point is that even if UP no longer desires to operate the line, the
freight customers retain their rights to be served so a short line
operation would be found to serve them. Funny how in another thread,
someone is poo-poohing the idea of an intermodal terminal on Lawn
Guyland requiring freight to be routed over passenger, yet here, no one
but me ever defends the idea of retain freight on this line.

I don't get the people in this newsgroup much of the time.

>For all we know, what CalTrain and the FRA were discussing _was_ time
>separation. The FRA has a track record of granting waivers for that, and it
>wouldn't be surprising if their experience to date has made them much more
>willing to grant (or even encourage) new instances than they were in the
>past. It's no longer a "new" concept. What would be "new" is granting
>waivers for mixing FRA freight and UIC passenger equipment, and there's no
>indication in Merritt's article quote that that's what's under
>consideration.

That's possible. I don't share Merritt's optimism.

Richard Mlynarik

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 8:28:25 AM7/14/07
to
Adam H. Kerman wrote:
[...]

>> As it turned out only BART took the bait. Always looking for a way to
>> expand their empire, the jumped at the chance to add the Capitol Corridor
>> to their operations.
>
> Did BART's governance expand to another county, or did the Capitol
> Corridors Counties form the authority because BART lobbied its home
> counties to kick in the necessary subsidy?

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority contracts with the Bay
Area Rapid Transit District for management services.

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority contracts with the
National Railroad Passenger Corporation for operating services.

> So how did Caltrains end up with a JPA? I understood that the state
> never contracted for the operation of that service.

The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Authority (formed in 1987)
contracts with the National Railroad Passenger Corporation for
operating services.

Before 1980 the Southern Pacific Railroad owned operated service in
the corridor. Between 1980 and 1992 the California Department of
Transportation managed service. Since then the PCJPB has had 100%
responsibility.

Richard Mlynarik

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 8:36:40 AM7/14/07
to
Adam H. Kerman wrote:
> Stephen Sprunk <ste...@sprunk.org> wrote:
>> "Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:
>>> Philip Nasadowski <nasa...@usermale.com> wrote:
>
>>>> I suspect Caltrain's ownership of the line was their ace in the hole -
>>>> if the FRA didn't cave in, they just boot UP from the line.
>
>>> Of course that's not legal.
>
>> Why not? They own it. There's probably some loophole that allows them to
>> drop UP's trackage rights if they need to.
>
> I doubt that very much.

Well, you're wrong.

Even if there weren't such an out -- which there is (involving "change
of rail technology", or similar words) --, operating small amounts of
short-line freight in such a corridor is not something that fits
with UPRR's operating practices and business model (well, except that
very successful part of their business which involves "pay us to go
away".)

>> Or, worst case, they could have gone for time separation and given UP a
>> window of a few hours overnight (a la the River Line); it's not like it's
>> a particularly long or heavily-freight-trafficked line.
>
> Because the windows make for horrid rail operations, since everything on
> the railroad must cease operations, and all incompatible passenger
> equipment must be off the line before turning it back into a real
> railroad. A six-hour "real railroad" window may be required. Time
> separation is the Worst Idea Ever, and I don't want to see any more
> these imposed.

There is basically no freight in the corridor -- zero to four trains
(ie 0 to 2 round-trips) per day. Even if time separation weren't
nonsensical, there's so little traffic that (a) time separation _could_
be made to work, maybe; and (b) that losing the freight trains
altogether is an acceptable compromise in terms of maximizing public
good.

We've been over this here several times already, of course.

[...]

>> [...] What would be "new" is granting


>> waivers for mixing FRA freight and UIC passenger equipment, and there's no
>> indication in Merritt's article quote that that's what's under
>> consideration.
>
> That's possible. I don't share Merritt's optimism.

That's (mixed operation via PTC/ATS) is what we're aiming for.

Philip Nasadowski

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 9:06:05 AM7/14/07
to
In article <46983f87$0$97269$892e...@authen.yellow.readfreenews.net>,

"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:

> Can you clarify a bit? What were they criticized for? What's the
> advantage of that particular voltage?

Cost, not being compatible with the NEC's system. The advantage of
going slightly higher than 25kv? Bit lower current. GE was pushing
25kv on the NEC, but the actual voltage they wanted was 23.5kv.

The Gibbs & Hill study on the Hoboken division identified 3 choices:

* Dual system (3kv / 11kv, or 3kv / 750v dc third rail) EMUs. The
existing 3kv system was basically worn out at that time, and getting
cranky (the substation rectifiers all had different operating points and
behaviors). Questions about the viability of the equipment, popped up.
This was circa 1972. Today, it'd be a non issue, especially with 3kv
inverters getting pretty common.

* High KV (12.5k or 25k) at 60hz. They studied also doing the two
existing Hoboken lines without wires. There were performance concerns
with 12.5kv 60hz.

* Dual mode diesels. This got nowhere.

I'm not sure who or why they bumped the voltage on the high side, but
NJT's always had a group advocating going high. The Gladstone branch
runs over 28kv at the wire. 28.2kv I think.

> Wouldn't a 50 kV system be better?

Yes/no. Lower currents, greater clearances. It's a trade off, as usual.

> What date did you select in the "When Hell freezes over" pool?

About 5 - 10 years from now, when it becomes blindingly obvious to
everyone that the FRA's regulations are a big part of what's holding up
practical passenger rail in the US.

> Of course that's not legal.

Why not? They own the line, they're the state, and they can do it.
Worse case, widen the rails out a few inches. UP can either buy gauge
changing equipment, or go take a hike. Or, just stop maintaining the
connection between the line and the rest of the world. After a few
derailments and the speed dropping to 5mph, UP will get the message.
Heck, haven't a few RRs tried that tick with Amtrak?

william welner

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 10:10:16 AM7/14/07
to
It would seem to me, as a native New Yorker who only lived in the SF Bay
Area for several years, that Californians would be better by combining all
transit under one umbrella agency such as NYS does in its MTA which includes
the NYC subways, the S.I. Railroad, the Metro North Railroad, the LIRR and
bus operations in the Metropolitan Area so that all transit can operated
under one Board to avoid the rivalries mentioned.

Under the MTA, the various systems are ran separately with planning and
capital construction done only by the central MTA Board.

"Merritt Mullen" <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote in message

news:mmullen8014-99DD...@netnews.asp.att.net...

Merritt Mullen

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 11:00:57 AM7/14/07
to
In article <cP4mi.7926$zA4....@newsread3.news.pas.earthlink.net>,
"william welner" <wwel...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> It would seem to me, as a native New Yorker who only lived in the SF Bay
> Area for several years, that Californians would be better by combining all
> transit under one umbrella agency such as NYS does in its MTA which includes
> the NYC subways, the S.I. Railroad, the Metro North Railroad, the LIRR and
> bus operations in the Metropolitan Area so that all transit can operated
> under one Board to avoid the rivalries mentioned.
>
> Under the MTA, the various systems are ran separately with planning and
> capital construction done only by the central MTA Board.

And that board is in Albany, isn't it? I don't understand why NY city
transit is run by the state. I am not necessarily objecting to unifying
the systems, just that it is run from a city that is not part of system.

Merritt

Michael Finfer

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 11:01:34 AM7/14/07
to
Philip Nasadowski wrote:
> In article <mmullen8014-99DD...@netnews.asp.att.net>,
> Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:

> The 25hz portion, and MN (though that could be a tap change). Big deal.
> It's incompatible with the BM&LP's 50kv system, too. nobody cares about
> THAT, though...
>
>> Does it matter?
>


It doesn't. The Arrow III's cannot make the transition at Kearney Jct.,
but the Arrow IV's will presumably be able to, and that problem goes away.

Michael Finfer
Bridgewater, NJ

Merritt Mullen

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 11:09:56 AM7/14/07
to
In article <nasadowsk-77B37...@news.verizon.net>,
Philip Nasadowski <nasa...@usermale.com> wrote:

> Why not? They own the line, they're the state, and they can do it.
> Worse case, widen the rails out a few inches. UP can either buy gauge
> changing equipment, or go take a hike. Or, just stop maintaining the
> connection between the line and the rest of the world. After a few
> derailments and the speed dropping to 5mph, UP will get the message.
> Heck, haven't a few RRs tried that tick with Amtrak?

One thing that is being overlooked here is that Caltrain runs on the UP
south of San Jose, and plans to extend even further south over the UP.
Currently Caltrain runs as far south as Gilroy, but someday they will
probably extend to Salinas and Monterey. Obviously, if they kicked UP of
the San Jose-San Francisco line, UP would kick Caltrain off of their lines.

In any case, the state of California and UP have a pretty good working
relationship, allowing a lot "Amtrak California" trains to run on UP. It
would not be smart to mess that up.

Merritt

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 11:29:16 AM7/14/07
to
Richard Mlynarik <M...@POBox.COM> wrote:
>Adam H. Kerman wrote:

>>>As it turned out only BART took the bait. Always looking for a way to
>>>expand their empire, the jumped at the chance to add the Capitol Corridor
>>>to their operations.

>>Did BART's governance expand to another county, or did the Capitol
>>Corridors Counties form the authority because BART lobbied its home
>>counties to kick in the necessary subsidy?

>The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority contracts with the Bay
>Area Rapid Transit District for management services.

>The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority contracts with the
>National Railroad Passenger Corporation for operating services.

I understand who contracts with whom. I don't understand why both a
management and operating contract are necessary, nor do I understand the
politics. One or two counties are outside BART. How did BART's lobbying
result in the establishment of the JPA? My only guess is that BART's
support came with cash from its home counties.

>>So how did Caltrains end up with a JPA? I understood that the state
>>never contracted for the operation of that service.

>The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Authority (formed in 1987)
>contracts with the National Railroad Passenger Corporation for
>operating services.

>Before 1980 the Southern Pacific Railroad owned operated service in
>the corridor. Between 1980 and 1992 the California Department of
>Transportation managed service. Since then the PCJPB has had 100%
>responsibility.

You haven't given me enough information. When did the route become
publicly owned? Was it owned by the state, then turned over to the JPA?
Didn't SP continue to operate it under subsidy before Amtrak took over?

Merritt Mullen

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 11:29:27 AM7/14/07
to
In article <46987098$0$97246$892e...@authen.yellow.readfreenews.net>,

BART's governance does not extend to Sacramento, but the new Capitol
Corridor JPA of course does. What BART did was bid to take over
management of the CCJPA. I don't know the details.

> So how did Caltrains end up with a JPA? I understood that the state
> never contracted for the operation of that service.

None of the four commuter services in California (Coaster, Metrolink, ACE,
and Caltrain) are operated by Caltrans. They all are operated
independently by different JPA (or an equivalent). For example, Metrolink
is operated by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA).
That is why they have different contract operators running and maintaining
the trains. CalTrain happens to be run by Amtrak.

As the first (and then only) commuter rail line in California, Caltrain
has a unique history. When SP petitioned to discontinue commuter service
in 1977, Caltrans (not CalTRAIN), in 1980, initially contracted with SP to
subsidize the service. Caltrans bought new equipment and upgraded the
stations and in 1987, PCJPB was formed by the local counties to manage the
line, instead of Caltrans. By 1991, PCJPB purchased the line and the next
year took over operations, with Amtrak as the contract operator.

Merritt

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 11:37:09 AM7/14/07
to
Richard Mlynarik <M...@POBox.COM> wrote:
>Adam H. Kerman wrote:
>>Stephen Sprunk <ste...@sprunk.org> wrote:
>>>"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:
>>>>Philip Nasadowski <nasa...@usermale.com> wrote:

>>>>>I suspect Caltrain's ownership of the line was their ace in the hole -
>>>>>if the FRA didn't cave in, they just boot UP from the line.

>>>>Of course that's not legal.

>>>Why not? They own it. There's probably some loophole that allows them to
>>>drop UP's trackage rights if they need to.

>>I doubt that very much.

>Well, you're wrong.

>Even if there weren't such an out -- which there is (involving "change
>of rail technology", or similar words) --, operating small amounts of
>short-line freight in such a corridor is not something that fits
>with UPRR's operating practices and business model (well, except that
>very successful part of their business which involves "pay us to go
>away".)

You are ignoring the rights of the remaining freight customers.

>>>Or, worst case, they could have gone for time separation and given UP a
>>>window of a few hours overnight (a la the River Line); it's not like it's
>>>a particularly long or heavily-freight-trafficked line.

>>Because the windows make for horrid rail operations, since everything on
>>the railroad must cease operations, and all incompatible passenger
>>equipment must be off the line before turning it back into a real
>>railroad. A six-hour "real railroad" window may be required. Time
>>separation is the Worst Idea Ever, and I don't want to see any more
>>these imposed.

>There is basically no freight in the corridor -- zero to four trains
>(ie 0 to 2 round-trips) per day. Even if time separation weren't
>nonsensical, there's so little traffic that (a) time separation _could_
>be made to work, maybe; and (b) that losing the freight trains
>altogether is an acceptable compromise in terms of maximizing public
>good.

>We've been over this here several times already, of course.

And this is different that the proposal for the Long Island situation,
how? Does an improvement in this railroad have the potential for
reducing truck traffic?

There's a conflict between defining "public good" solely in terms of the
benefits a passenger-only railroad may bring. We have lots of those here
in Chicago, coincidentally all parallel to clogged expressways. But
these railroads run no where near capacity.

>>>. . . What would be "new" is granting waivers for mixing FRA freight and


>>>UIC passenger equipment, and there's no indication in Merritt's article
>>>quote that that's what's under consideration.

>>That's possible. I don't share Merritt's optimism.

>That's (mixed operation via PTC/ATS) is what we're aiming for.

Yes, I think we're all assuming that it would be done with signals, if
the regulation is changed.

Merritt Mullen

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 11:37:59 AM7/14/07
to
In article <4698640b$0$97216$892e...@authen.yellow.readfreenews.net>,

"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:

> Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:
>
> >On weekdays, Caltrain runs 48 trains a day, in each direction (96 total
> >daily trains). During off-peak hours, a train departs (in each direction)
> >every half hour.
>
> That's a tremendous improvement. What did SP used to run, five pair of
> trains off peak, with no weekend service at all?
>
> >The big advantage of electrification in not to reduce headway,
>
> Not my argument at all. Actually, unless the schedule were improved a
> bit more, I don't see how electrification is justified.

Caltrain's argument is that it will save money. Electric locos are
cheaper to own, cheaper to operate and cheaper to maintain the
diesel-electric locos. And the schedule would be improved because of
faster acceleration. And, of course, there is the environmental
consideration.



> >but to increase average speed because of the better acceleration of
> >electric trains.
>
> Under a scenario in which Caltrain could purchase off-the-shelf European
> consists with minor alterations, then the argument is moot. They'd have
> a selection of DMUs to choose from in which acceleration and, more
> importantly, deceleration, is improved over today's passenger engines
> hauling trailers. They aren't proposing to electrify to use American MUs
> in revenue service.

I don't think DMUs can approach the acceleration of EMUs, but maybe
someone with the technical data can comment. European DMUs will be used
on the new Sprinter service between Oceanside and Escondido that will
start this December, and I don't think they have very high performance
compared to EMUs.

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 11:46:25 AM7/14/07
to

Aren't there two explanations? Pennsy dumped the Long Island on the
state, not the city, so that pretty much set the pattern. The
legislature could have established a special district to receive the
railroad, but didn't.

What doesn't make any sense is having two transit agencies, Metro North
and Long Island, to operate rail within the same state. Chicago's transit
governance is rather fractious, but we don't do this. We're still in the
same situation historically as New York, in that various parts of the rail
system became publicly owned at different times. However, subsidies were
in place, first. And we had nothing resembling the bitter rivalry
between Central and Pennsy continuing after merger.

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 11:51:01 AM7/14/07
to
Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:
>"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:

>>So how did Caltrains end up with a JPA? I understood that the state
>>never contracted for the operation of that service.

>None of the four commuter services in California (Coaster, Metrolink, ACE,
>and Caltrain) are operated by Caltrans. They all are operated
>independently by different JPA (or an equivalent). For example, Metrolink
>is operated by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA).
>That is why they have different contract operators running and maintaining
>the trains. CalTrain happens to be run by Amtrak.

I don't understand why Metrolink's governance is under different
legislation either.

>As the first (and then only) commuter rail line in California, Caltrain
>has a unique history. When SP petitioned to discontinue commuter service
>in 1977, Caltrans (not CalTRAIN), in 1980, initially contracted with SP to
>subsidize the service. Caltrans bought new equipment and upgraded the
>stations and in 1987, PCJPB was formed by the local counties to manage the
>line, instead of Caltrans. By 1991, PCJPB purchased the line and the next
>year took over operations, with Amtrak as the contract operator.

Thanks; didn't know the dates.

But the service mark Caltrain was thunk up by the state, right? I had a
vague recollection that it was already in place long before governance
changed. And didn't the service mark at one time apply to services
elsewhere in the state?

Jaap van Dorp

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 11:54:16 AM7/14/07
to
The MTA board is not in Albany , its in New York and consist of people from
service area's of MTA, assigned by county administrators, mayor of New York
and a few by Governor of State.

"Merritt Mullen" <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote in message

news:mmullen8014-D74B...@netnews.asp.att.net...

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 12:33:52 PM7/14/07
to
Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:
>"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:
>>Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:

>>>On weekdays, Caltrain runs 48 trains a day, in each direction (96 total
>>>daily trains). During off-peak hours, a train departs (in each direction)
>>>every half hour.

>>That's a tremendous improvement. What did SP used to run, five pair of
>>trains off peak, with no weekend service at all?

>>>The big advantage of electrification in not to reduce headway,

>>Not my argument at all. Actually, unless the schedule were improved a
>>bit more, I don't see how electrification is justified.

>Caltrain's argument is that it will save money. Electric locos are
>cheaper to own, cheaper to operate and cheaper to maintain the
>diesel-electric locos.

This is news to me. Are we still talking about locomotive-hauled, or MU?

Under the FRA inspection regime, locomotive inspection rules apply to
MUs. Anything with motors is a locomotive. The inspection rules also
apply to cab-equipped trailers. European fleet or not, FRA won't waive
these rules.

Metra Electric, for instance, has no trailers. The Highliners had
replaced a fleet 35 years ago that were about 1/2 trailers, although
most were cab-eqipped. Essentially, it's an all-locomotive fleet and it
raises operating costs compared to the diesel-electric fleet.

It's long been said that Metra's operating costs might be reduced if the
former IC service weren't electrified. It hasn't really had rapid transit
levels of service for 50 years, although it's still designed like that. But
there's one major reason why it can't be locomotive hauled.

>And the schedule would be improved because of faster acceleration. And,
>of course, there is the environmental consideration.

Electrification is a trade-off of benefits and costs. Put transportation
between points A and B, while polluting at Point C; not really fair to
Point C. Of course, hydro has negatives for the environment, too.

>>>but to increase average speed because of the better acceleration of
>>>electric trains.

>>Under a scenario in which Caltrain could purchase off-the-shelf European
>>consists with minor alterations, then the argument is moot. They'd have
>>a selection of DMUs to choose from in which acceleration and, more
>>importantly, deceleration, is improved over today's passenger engines
>>hauling trailers. They aren't proposing to electrify to use American MUs
>>in revenue service.

>I don't think DMUs can approach the acceleration of EMUs, but maybe
>someone with the technical data can comment. European DMUs will be used
>on the new Sprinter service between Oceanside and Escondido that will
>start this December, and I don't think they have very high performance
>compared to EMUs.

But that's the fair comparison, since new regulations are assumed in
this scenario. One isn't going to be that much better than the other.

Unless something like the Nippon-Sharyo design for the fleet that will
replace the Highliners is under consideration and I've misunderstood
what is being considered with no regulation change? The Highliners don't
have dynamic braking and don't have powerful enough traction motors for
quick acceleration, so their performance was very poor compared to the
original Pullman fleet they replaced. The N-S cars have more powerful
motors and dynamic braking.

dpel...@my-deja.com

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 2:33:20 PM7/14/07
to
On Jul 14, 8:06 am, Philip Nasadowski <nasado...@usermale.com> wrote:
> In article <46983f87$0$97269$892e7...@authen.yellow.readfreenews.net>,

> > Of course that's not legal.
>
> Why not? They own the line, they're the state, and they can do it.
> Worse case, widen the rails out a few inches. UP can either buy gauge
> changing equipment, or go take a hike. Or, just stop maintaining the
> connection between the line and the rest of the world. After a few
> derailments and the speed dropping to 5mph, UP will get the message.

If UP has the right to serve freight customers on the line, then they
can't be kicked off without the approval of the STB. Period. Even if
UP _wants_ to pack up and go home, they can't do so without the
approval of the STB. It's the same as any other abandonment.

Dan

Stephen Sprunk

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 2:34:28 PM7/14/07
to
"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote in message
news:4698faf0$0$97227$892e...@authen.yellow.readfreenews.net...

> Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:
>>Caltrain's argument is that it will save money. Electric locos are
>>cheaper to own, cheaper to operate and cheaper to maintain the
>>diesel-electric locos.
>
> This is news to me. Are we still talking about locomotive-hauled, or MU?
>
> Under the FRA inspection regime, locomotive inspection rules apply to
> MUs. Anything with motors is a locomotive. The inspection rules also
> apply to cab-equipped trailers. European fleet or not, FRA won't waive
> these rules.

Do those FRA inspection rules apply to non-FRA equipment operated under a
time-separation waiver? I thought the River Line and SD Trolley were exempt
from jumping through those hoops just like they were from all of the other
FRA stupidity...

> Metra Electric, for instance, has no trailers. The Highliners had
> replaced a fleet 35 years ago that were about 1/2 trailers, although
> most were cab-eqipped. Essentially, it's an all-locomotive fleet and it
> raises operating costs compared to the diesel-electric fleet.

What you're saying isn't a problem with electrification per se, but rather
the problem with trying to run MU sets under FRA regulations. Electric
push-pull would still be cheaper to maintain than diesel push-pull, like EMU
would be cheaper than DMU. I don't have the stats to say whether EMU is
cheaper or more expensive than diesel push-pull.

> It's long been said that Metra's operating costs might be reduced if the
> former IC service weren't electrified. It hasn't really had rapid transit
> levels of service for 50 years, although it's still designed like that.
> But
> there's one major reason why it can't be locomotive hauled.

What's stopping them from doing electric push-pull, if that's cheaper than
EMU?

>>And the schedule would be improved because of faster acceleration. And,
>>of course, there is the environmental consideration.
>
> Electrification is a trade-off of benefits and costs. Put transportation
> between points A and B, while polluting at Point C; not really fair to
> Point C. Of course, hydro has negatives for the environment, too.

Burning diesel in the middle of a congested city that already has pollution
problems is bad. Using nuclear, wind, hydro or, worst case, burning fossil
fuels in some other location, where the pollution is easier to control due
to a fixed plant, is a net benefit.

Adam H. Kerman

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 3:38:44 PM7/14/07
to
Stephen Sprunk <ste...@sprunk.org> wrote:

>"Adam H. Kerman" <a...@chinet.com> wrote:
>>Merritt Mullen <mmull...@mchsi.com> wrote:

>>>Caltrain's argument is that it will save money. Electric locos are
>>>cheaper to own, cheaper to operate and cheaper to maintain the
>>>diesel-electric locos.

>>This is news to me. Are we still talking about locomotive-hauled, or MU?

>>Under the FRA inspection regime, locomotive inspection rules apply to
>>MUs. Anything with motors is a locomotive. The inspection rules also
>>apply to cab-equipped trailers. European fleet or not, FRA won't waive
>>these rules.

>Do those FRA inspection rules apply to non-FRA equipment operated under a
>time-separation waiver?

I don't know. Good question.

>I thought the River Line and SD Trolley were exempt from jumping through
>those hoops just like they were from all of the other FRA stupidity...

This rule isn't stupidity.

>>Metra Electric, for instance, has no trailers. The Highliners had
>>replaced a fleet 35 years ago that were about 1/2 trailers, although
>>most were cab-eqipped. Essentially, it's an all-locomotive fleet and it
>>raises operating costs compared to the diesel-electric fleet.

>What you're saying isn't a problem with electrification per se, but rather
>the problem with trying to run MU sets under FRA regulations.

Quite. Same would apply to diesel MU consists. Unless they are trailers
with no cabs, inspection rules apply.

Politically, I think it would be absurd for Caltrain to seek a waiver
from complying with the inspection regime. The important thing is
getting FRA to repeal rules that disallow the equipment.

>Electric push-pull would still be cheaper to maintain than diesel push-pull,
>like EMU would be cheaper than DMU. I don't have the stats to say whether
>EMU is cheaper or more expensive than diesel push-pull.

Guys, I just don't understand why you conclude this.

>>It's long been said that Metra's operating costs might be reduced if the
>>former IC service weren't electrified. It hasn't really had rapid transit
>>levels of service for 50 years, although it's still designed like that.
>>But there's one major reason why it can't be locomotive hauled.

>What's stopping them from doing electric push-pull, if that's cheaper than
>EMU?

Tiny terminal, restricted by office buildings and the station throat the
switches of which really cannot be relocated.

>>>And the schedule would be improved because of faster acceleration. And,
>>>of course, there is the environmental consideration.

>>Electrification is a trade-off of benefits and costs. Put transportation
>>between points A and B, while polluting at Point C; not really fair to
>>Point C. Of course, hydro has negatives for the environment, too.

>Burning diesel in the middle of a congested city that already has pollution
>problems is bad. Using nuclear, wind, hydro or, worst case, burning fossil
>fuels in some other location, where the pollution is easier to control due
>to a fixed plant, is a net benefit.

Do you recall, they tried putting massive coal plants in the desert in
the early '70's, but they were all closed due to air quality even though
the direct impact was only on a few people. Relocating pollution isn't
fair. Nuclear is clean; waste disposal isn't. Wind turbines affect
birds. There are no easy answers, only tradeoffs to consider.

Richard Mlynarik

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 3:50:20 PM7/14/07
to
Adam H. Kerman wrote:
[...]
> I understand who contracts with whom. I don't understand why both a
> management and operating contract are necessary, nor do I understand the
> politics. One or two counties are outside BART. How did BART's lobbying
> result in the establishment of the JPA? My only guess is that BART's
> support came with cash from its home counties.

The CCJPA is independent of the BARTD. As far as I know, BARTD had
nothing to do with the establishment of the former. As far as I know,
the BARTD counties which are not part of the CCJPA do not support
(ie subsidize staff, salaries and overhead associated with) the CCJPA.

>>> So how did Caltrains end up with a JPA? I understood that the state
>>> never contracted for the operation of that service.
>
>> The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Authority (formed in 1987)
>> contracts with the National Railroad Passenger Corporation for
>> operating services.
>
>> Before 1980 the Southern Pacific Railroad owned operated service in
>> the corridor. Between 1980 and 1992 the California Department of
>> Transportation managed service. Since then the PCJPB has had 100%
>> responsibility.
>
> You haven't given me enough information. When did the route become
> publicly owned? Was it owned by the state, then turned over to the JPA?
> Didn't SP continue to operate it under subsidy before Amtrak took over?

Google.

1991. No. Yes.

Richard Mlynarik

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 3:55:00 PM7/14/07
to
Adam H. Kerman wrote:
[...]
>> Caltrain's argument is that it will save money. Electric locos are
>> cheaper to own, cheaper to operate and cheaper to maintain the
>> diesel-electric locos.
>
> This is news to me. Are we still talking about locomotive-hauled, or MU?
>
> Under the FRA inspection regime, locomotive inspection rules apply to
> MUs. Anything with motors is a locomotive. The inspection rules also
> apply to cab-equipped trailers. European fleet or not, FRA won't waive
> these rules.

Wrong. (Well, probably wrong. Who knows what the future will bring?
I know: generally, nothing good.)

Richard Mlynarik

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 5:20:01 PM7/14/07
to
william welner wrote:
> It would seem to me, as a native New Yorker who only lived in the SF Bay
> Area for several years, that Californians would be better by combining all
> transit under one umbrella agency such as NYS does in its MTA which includes
> the NYC subways, the S.I. Railroad, the Metro North Railroad, the LIRR and
> bus operations in the Metropolitan Area so that all transit can operated
> under one Board to avoid the rivalries mentioned.
>
> Under the MTA, the various systems are ran separately with planning and
> capital construction done only by the central MTA Board.

That's the way it's done in the SF Bay Area also.

Planning is done by Bechtel and Parsons Parsons Brinkerhoff Quade &
Douglas, using wholly own subsidiaries Metropolitan Transportation
Commission and the various county Congestion Management Agencies as
intermediaries.

The system works very well.

Stephen Sprunk

unread,
Jul 14, 2007, 5:59:12 PM7/14/07