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Comment Re:There will be no train (Score 1) 408

LAX is right on the coast, as far from the city center as one can get. It's a half-hour ride through traffic to downtown.

SFO is way down in the southern extremity of San Francisco. It's a half-hour BART ride to downtown.

SJC has much smaller capacity than those, but I'll grant that it's closer to downtown.

SAN and SNA won't be reached by high-speed rail in the first phase;

Comment Re:Support High Speed Rail (Score 1) 408

When can we get started on all of the million or so projects that somebody would call "progress", but not such that they'd choose to pay for it?

Well, the CA high-speed rail project is being funded as it is built -- though some is funded by bonds, there's no "blank check" or unlimited deficit spending. So I'm not sure the above comment is really relevant.

Comment Re:Envy is one of the seven deadly sins (Score 1) 408

HSR safety document. AFAIK, true grade separation isn't fully funded. The quad gates described in the PDF are said to reduce "collisions" 98%, but I'm inferring that as vehicle collisions. They don't look like they would do much for pedestrians.

Fair enough: "In the Central Valley, where trains will be capable of running at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, the high-speed rail system is being built fully grade separated." But in the denser regions (which have more people, albeit lower running speeds) it looks like grade separation will not be complete, at least in the regions with blended service. I find that pretty disappointing -- but thanks for pointing it out.

Comment Re:Coast Starlight (Score 1) 408

Because Amtrak is a corporate welfare basket case that will never come close to justifying itself economically.

... except for the Northeast Corridor, which shows that high speeds and large populations make it economically effective -- just as California will.

We have aircraft now.

When San Francisco and Los Angeles build airports in their downtown cores, come back and talk to us. The trip times will be comparable and the rail journey will be more comfortable by far.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

... and this writer goes "off the rails" yet again

Comment Re:Support High Speed Rail (Score 2, Informative) 408

Certainly, few people drove on the first five miles of controlled-access highway --- but the fully built-out Interstate system is used by many millions. To describe the entire project as only the Central Valley segment is foolish at best and malevolent at worst.

Comment Re:Coast Starlight (Score 3) 408

It's not the worst idea --- but the track is exceedingly curvy, speeds could never be very high, and in the end it wouldn't be much cheaper (if at all) than building a new line. Plus the large (if often ignored!) population centers in the Central Valley would be entirely bypassed by a coastal route, relegating them even more to backwater status. Further more the coastal route is anyway owned and mainly run my freight rail, who would fight to the death against any encroachment. The current HSR project builds an entirely separate and publicly-owned right-of-way with no grade crossings, for maximum speed, access to population centers, and ultimate public benefit.

Comment Re:There will be no train (Score 2, Interesting) 408

The above post suggests that money should instead be spend on Bay Area or Southern California transit projects, but this is a false dichotomy (trichotomy?) -- the public benefits from spending money on all three of these areas (North, South, and HSR to connect them). In the North: BART is extending south from Fremont to San Jose (coming end of 2017!), Caltrain is electrifying to boost capacity and speed, giving frequent, fully electrified, and high-capacity transit all around the Bay. In the South, Los Angeles Metro now has more miles of public rail transport than any other region: lines are being build through downtown, to the airport, through the heart of the Wilshire corridor, and to East LA and the San Gabriel Valley. High speed rail will tie these two great regions even closer together, compensate for our overcrowded highways and airports, and benefit the entire state.

Comment Re:Envy is one of the seven deadly sins (Score 1) 408

The above post suggests that "Grade separation is key" --- the project described will be entirely grade-separated, reducing pedestrian deaths, drivers' waiting time at crossings, and boosting the system's speed.

The above post suggests that California won't match Amtrak's Eastern corridor which has "curvey rights-of-way," --- but the project described here is acquiring property to build long, straight segments to achieve much higher speed's than the Eastern Acela trains.

The above post suggests we build Hyperloop instead --- but this invokes a technology completely untested at these scales, wheras the project described here uses proven technology.

Finally, the above post suggests an "electrified self-driving autobahn" .... at which point I lost any remaining faith in the writer's ability for rational thought.

Comment Support High Speed Rail (Score 5, Insightful) 408

I am shocked that by LA Times writer Ralph Vartabedian's article on the supposed risk and overruns to California's ongoing high-speed rail (HSR) effort. Vartabedian is a known opponent of HSR whose every article drips with antagonism against this project, as a quick review of his past articles will clearly show. Anyone who reads the purported analysis (in fact a single Powerpoint file, taken out of context) will quickly see that the article's claims are not justified -- for example, a *possible* $3B overrun (really less, since this compares against obsolete estimates) does not equal a 50% budget problem for a project of this size. The entire state stands to benefit immensely from this project, which will connect BART, Caltrain, and VTA users in the North with Metro, Metrolink, and Amtrak users in the South --- and connect both to the isolated, ignored, economically-depressed Central Valley. Californians, and all who believe in progress, should embrace this transformative project and reject the uniformed mudslinging by the Vartabedians of the world.

Comment Re:Pedigree (Score 1) 37

Small, red dwarf stars are "that way" merely because they have lower mass. So there's nothing systematically different about the amount of heavy elements in them, relative to Sun-like stars. In fact, our study said nothing at all about the likelihood of these planets to host life -- our knowledge of the requirements for that are slim enough, and our understanding of these new planets still too shallow, to say anything definitively about life on these planets.

Also, so far there is no clear sign that the occurrence of planetary systems around these small, red stars correlates with the heavy element fraction of the star -- but it's a field of active research that our team is looking into.

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