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May 30, 2018



The LA Times continues as the lead watchdog on High-speed Fail. This week's Public Records response shows the performance frailties in two separate articles excerpted here:

The California High Speed Rail Authority conducted computer simulations, know as a train performance calculator, earlier this year to show that it can meet the 2 hour 40 minute trip time between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The chart shows the train can meet the trip time by going 110 mph from San Jose to San Francisco while going through at-grade crossings and without making any stops. Those assumptions are disputed by outside experts.

The chart shows the elapsed time, train speed, throttle, braking and the elevation at various points along the route. The document was obtained by The Times under a Public Records Act request.


Computer simulations conducted earlier this year by the authority, obtained by The Times under a public records act request, show the bullet train is three minutes and 10 seconds inside the legal mandate.

Such a tight margin of error has some disputing whether the rail network will regularly hit that two-hour-40 minute time, in part because the assumptions that went into those simulations are highly optimistic and unproven. The premise hinges on trains operating at higher speeds than virtually all the systems in Asia and Europe; human train operators consistently performing with the precision of a computer model; favorable deals on the use of tracks that the state doesn’t even own; and amicable decisions by federal safety regulators.

By international standards, the California timetable is audacious.

The Japanese Shinkansen, the inspiration for all of the world’s high speed trains, operates between Tokyo and Osaka, a distance of 344 miles. The fastest trip takes two hours and 22 minutes, yielding an average speed of 145 miles per hour, according to Japanese Railway schedules. (JB: I rode the Shinkansen in the mid-'80s. It was cool then and it also had (and still has) several full time teams of maintenance guys adjusting the track continuously to maintain something close to 145 mph).

But the Los Angeles to San Francisco route, which would traverse three mountain ranges and five of the 10 largest cities in the state, is supposed to travel 438 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes — requiring an average speed of 164 miles per hour.

Funding has become a problem for the rail authority, which can’t afford to complete even a partial operational segment — slow or fast. In its 2018 business plan, the authority deleted construction of a 13-mile tunnel under the Pacheco Pass from its first phase because it did not have enough money. The decision will leave about 80 miles of track in the Bay Area disconnected from 119 miles of track in the Central Valley.


Bruce Dickinson

Guys, let's face it, the entire premise and conception of HSR, despite the mounds of studies and statistics continually produced by this governmental body, is nothing but a work of fiction.

Over and over again, original assumptions have been proven wrong, to nearly a rate of 100%. Do you know how hard that is to "achieve"? In corporate America, being 52% wrong can cost you your job or even your company (can be acquired by another with a better management team). Any sort of basic standards of private oversight would have killed this boondoggle long ago just due to sheer incompetence. Maybe Bruce Dickinson shouldn't sell them too short, however, as they have been able to write fiction for the past 15 years and get away with it, with legislators lapping it up like hungry dogs.

Now, on to the "assumptions" of train speed for HSR. Seriously folks, what public transportation system in the US, especially in California, is on-time for anything? All of a sudden, punctuality is somehow going to be found after not existing for the past 150 years in public transportation? C'mon, it's never happened and it never will.

AND you're comparing HSR to the Shinkansen (which I have ridden countless times), the most pristine, unflawed and unadulterated, clean track and the most modern, upgraded trains known to the world--it's a huge source of national pride for the Japanese. A belief that HSR with at-grade crossings would achieve an average speed 13% faster than the Shinkansen, or 45% more than its more realistic comparable, the TVG, is simply beyond the realm of possibility, to put it extremely mildly. HSR will NOT be a source of any pride in California, as it will hemorrhage money, people will be very angry with the over-promising and under-delivery, and once the trains actually run probably 30%+ slower, how is one going to enforce, on a post-facto basis, that HSR lied all along and did not meet the "legal mandate" Driverless technology will render this monstrosity obsolete before it's built, making "stranded asset" nuclear power plants look like pocket change in terms of ultimate costs to society.

Our silent-on-the-issue City Council, who is so afraid to refuse crossing any Democratic party "initiatives" needs to be far more aggressive on this and join other cities in opposing this. Moreover, all of YOU need to write all the State & local reps with overwhelming expressions of protest and opposition!

Bruce Dickinson

Just to give you a little taste how the Shinkansen in Japan operates, look what happens when the train is 20 seconds off it's scheduled time



Does anyone believe this will ever happen in California? If so, Bruce Dickinson would be happy to sell you a bridge!

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