Archive for August, 2009

Question: How big a train station is required to handle bidirectional 4 trains/hr?

Most railway planners would give an answer something like this:

But in Anaheim, the solution for handling for their measly 4 trains/hr (2030 projection!) is this $180 million palatial megacomplex, the Grand Central of Orange County, otherwise known as Artic:


The “Leed(TM) Platinum-Certified sustainable building” will provide over 1255 parking spaces.

Unfortunately, the station is not an anomaly. Many cities view train stations as a form of monument building. All over California there are similar stations either being planned or already built. It would be one thing if these were “Grand Central” station stops with tens of millions of annual trips. But they aren’t — even with most optimistic travel forecasts they will always be just minor suburban stops.

Read Full Post »

Fencing along railroad tracks is rarely inspected or secured, as two toddlers discovered.

ANAHEIM – State regulators are investigating how two toddlers managed to escape from the sight of Anaheim daycare workers and wound up on nearby railroad tracks, where they were spotted by neighbors who alerted police.

The children were outside the grounds of the Anaheim YMCA Children’s Station at 100 S. Atchison St. Thursday afternoon during group playtime when staff members noticed them missing during a routine headcount, said John Guastaferro, a YMCA spokesman.

Rosie Mendez, 36, said her son, 2-year-old Eric Beder Mendez, got out onto the railroad tracks with another 2-year-old boy. She said she arrived at the daycare center shortly after 5 p.m. on Thursday, unaware that her toddler was missing.

The tracks are used by the Metrolink commuter rail service, which runs trains about every half-hour on weekday afternoons.

In many cases, fencing is installed merely to satisfy the lawyers. They create the illusion of safety, and can be actually counter-productive when they give false sense of security to parents and teachers.

Read Full Post »

Seattle’s two-term Mayor Greg Nickels conceded defeat at a news conference on Friday. He placed third, behind T-Mobile executive Joe Mallahan and Sierra Club activist Mike McGinn. His candidacy faced a number of challenges, but most reporting focused on Nickels’ controversial plan to replace the earthquake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct with a double-deck tunnel:

Perhaps the most surprising of the top two early leaders was Mike McGinn, a neighborhood activist and local Sierra Club leader who built his low-cost campaign around opposition to one of the mayor’s signature accomplishments, an agreement finalized in January to replace the earthquake-damaged freeway. The $4.2 billion plan, approved by the state, would open downtown to Elliott Bay and views of the Olympic Mountains by demolishing the 56-year-old highway, called the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and building a two-deck tunnel. Mr. McGinn, who favors replacing the viaduct with a less expensive surface-level boulevard and expanded transit services, has won support from both fiscal conservatives and environmentalists.

In American politics, it is extremely rare for leaders to be held accountable for megaproject boondoggles. Nobody ever lost their job over Boston Big Dig, or the MTC Bay Bridge East Span replacement project, or the Milbrae BART extension, or the Oakland Airport monorail, etc, etc.

Could this be the start of a trend? Or is it a one-time fluke?

Read Full Post »

Greased Rails

It is the Croation Railways version of “Pulling a Homer”. Weed killer and fire retardant was supposed to be applied to the ROW. Through corruption, the job was given to an unqualified boob — who not only failed to properly dilute the fire retardant, but also decided to mix it with the weed killer so as to save an additional weedkiller run. The slippery goop was applied to the rails just before a passenger train came through. It derailed, as did the following worker-train, which slid all the way down the hill with brakes locked.

Read Full Post »

FRA Caps Speeds

Austin MetroRail DMU

Austin MetroRail DMU

Its new Stadler DMUs are geared for 75mph operation. The line is built to 79mph standards. But the FRA won’t allow Austin Capital MetroRail to run trains faster than 60mph. Why? Because it would be “unsafe”.

Never mind that Stadler trains are run throughout Europe, without any safety issues whatsoever.

In order to get commuters out of their cars and onto transit, customers need to be given time-competitive travel options. If anything, FRA should be facilitating faster speeds, not slower.

Read Full Post »