LOSSAN Corridor Rebuild

Discussion in 'Amtrak’s Future: Member Ideas and Discussion' started by NeueAmtrakCalifornia, Oct 30, 2019.

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  1. Oct 30, 2019 #1

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    The LOSSAN corridor is one of the most travelled Amtrak routes outside of the Northeast Corridor. However, to get it to remotely the standards seen on the Northeast Corridor, a lot of improvements would have to be made. These improvements include dual-tracking (at minimum), grade separation to eliminate all grade crossings, and electrification.

    Phase 1 (Los Angeles-San Diego): This is where much of the ridership comes from so I expect this is where the rebuilding will first take place.
    • Miramar Hill Tunnel: At La Jolla, the tracks take a u-shaped turn to run around Miramar Hill, so a tunnel will be built to cross Miramar Hill. This includes a new station at UC San Diego.
    • Track relocation from Del Mar to La Jolla: At Del Mar, the tracks run dangerously close to the coast line, and at La Jolla, they go through a hairpin turn, so the tracks will be relocated.
    • San Diego freight bypass: This would reroute freight radiating from the San Diego area to follow Interstate 15 and Interstate 215 into Riverside, redirecting freight traffic radiating from the San Diego area, and also making the LOSSAN tracks between Fullerton and San Diego virtually freight-free. This can work as a public-private partnership with BNSF similar to Norfolk Southern's Heartland Corridor.
    • San Juan Capistrano Tunnel: At near Dana Point, there is a near 90 degree turn, which will hamper speeds. A new tunnel between San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano will have to be built.
    • New ROW between Santa Ana and LA Union Station. Amtrak California can acquire the lightly-used Anaheim Subdivision from Union Pacific between Santa Ana and Norwalk and redevelop the ROW. Between Norwalk and Commerce, a new ROW following Interstate 5 will be built (can certainly make better use of that widening they've been doing), and between Norwalk and the Redondo Junction Grade Separation, a new elevated ROW will be built following the existing ROW. The Redondo Junction will be quad-tracked and connect only to the new Anaheim rail line. This will eliminate any track-sharing with freight trains. In tandem with the Norwalk-Fullerton rebuild, two tracks will diverge to run on the BNSF line to Fullerton.
    • Norwalk-Fullerton rebuild: between Norwalk and Fullerton, Metrolink and Amtrak run on tracks owned by BNSF. These tracks also run on the Southern Transcon, one of BNSF's busiest freight routes. SCRRA and BNSF can come to an agreement to jointly-own the tracks between Norwalk and Fullerton. Considering that CAHSR has plans to run HSR trains between LA and Anaheim using this route, SCRRA and BNSF can work with each other on eleminating all grade crossings and quad-tracking the entire line. This is similar to what CAHSR has planned for its LA-Anaheim route.
    • New maintenance facility: Amtrak has an existing maintenance facility (8th. Street Yard). While it's currenly fine as it, should the LOSSAN line and its radiating lines be modernized, the rail yard would be insufficient to handle the increased frequencies (this issue would also likely plague Metrolink). A reactivated Taylor Yard could have happened but G2 (where the majority of it is) has been earmarked for redevelopment as a residential community. This would make finding space for a new maintenance facility extremely difficult. A new maintenance facility in Commerce would be impractical as it's too far out from LA Union Station. The closest would be the existing ex-SP rail yard, but Amtrak and the SCRRA would have to negotiate with UPRR to gain a piece of it to remake it into a new maintenance facility. Such a development can happen best in tandem with a new route following I-10 via a redeveloped El Monte Busway.
    Phase 1.5 (Salinas-San Jose): Amtrak is planning on extending Capitol Corridor services to Salinas. Modernization and improvement of this route can happen in tandem with the Los Angeles-San Siego modernization.
    • Salinas Direct: This rail line closely follows US Route 101, bypassing Watsonville and Castroville, as well as several wildlife preserves.
    • New Gilroy-Salinas via Castroville and Watsonville alignment: The existing ROW runs sandwiched between wildlife preserves. This realignment will have the tracks run in parallel with CA-1. To bypass a granite mine, the realignment will tunnel south of Aromas to connect with the Salinas Direct.
    Phase 2 (Los Angeles-San Luis Obispo): Compared to the Los Angeles-San Diego, this section will be more difficult to build as there will be a lot more ROW acquisitions as the existing route is too winding for even a modern higher (i.e. 125 mph) speed rail line (particularly on the ROW that parallels UP's Coast Line as UP is clingy with their tracks but I can see them benefit from a rebuilt and modernized rail line)
    • New Los Angeles-Camarillo rail line: Between Camarillo and Los Angeles, a new rail line will be built, largely parallelling US Route 101. Much of this new rail line will be either elevated (such as through Ventura Boulevard) or underground (such as from LA Union Station-Studio City and much of the Conejo Valley). Upon being built, all Amtrak and Metrolink services will relocate to the new line. This would end up supplanting Metrolink services through the Simi Valley, so a DMU will be used for the old Ventura County line.
    • New Gaviota-San Luis Obispo track: Similar to the new Camarillo-Los Angeles track, a new ROW will be built paralleling US Route 101. This will bypass Lompoc and Vandenberg AFB and enable Amtrak to serve Santa Maria
    Phase 3 (San Luis Obispo-Salinas): This section has no corridor service, being only served by the long-distance Coast Starlight. Currently along this section, Amtrak plans to add stops to Soledad and King City. This section will likely be the last to be completed in the modernization program.
    • Cuesta Base Tunnel: The existing route has a very long and winding segment north of San Luis Obispo as it asends the Cuesta Pass. Building a new tunnel will shave off a sizeable portion of time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
  2. Oct 30, 2019 #2

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

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    Is this a formal proposal under consideration, or is it your own thoughts and ideas? Not a bad plan, either way.
     
  3. Oct 30, 2019 #3

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    My own thoughts and ideas
     
  4. Oct 30, 2019 #4

    seat38a

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    seat38a

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    Go look through LOSSAN business plans and long term documents. Most of what you suggest are already in the works such as tunnel through Miramar Hill area. Del Mar to La Jolla there's talk about trenching.

    Anything between LAUS and Anaheim are already planned under via CAHSR hybrid use plan with Metrolink.
     
  5. Oct 30, 2019 #5

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    CAHSR has basically been frozen outside of the IOS since Gavin Newsome became governor. Blended CAHSR between LAUS and Anahein can be fulfilled by an express electric Surfliner (and maybe extended San Joaquin if they want to extend if further from LA to San Diego should Tejon rail ever get made so we can have a one-seat ride from LA to Sacramento). Personally I'd rather they build a new ROW following I-5 for CAHSR between LAUS-Anaheim-Irvine for HSR. They can easily use the median of Interstate 5 to lay two HSR tracks and add a station in Anaheim (and it'd be adjacent to Disneyland no less)
     
  6. Oct 31, 2019 #6

    seat38a

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    seat38a

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    There is nothing that will get Californians to become militant overnight as messing with the freeway system or streets by taking away lanes. Project is already underway to add lanes which has pretty much made the 5 a total nightmare right now. If anything, the center median will be converted to a toll express HOT lane before any rail gets put down. Not sure why anyone needs to build on the 5 when there's plenty of space already on the current ROW. There's talk about moving funding from HSR to NorCal and Socal to finish those segments first so CalTrain, Metrolink and Surfliners can take advantage sooner.

    Being close to Disneyland as justification seem like corporate giveaway of tax payers money. Disney already doesn't pay any sales taxes on tickets and gets a rebate back on most of the hotel taxes they collect, if they want a rail link, they can pony up the cash themselves.
     
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  7. Oct 31, 2019 #7

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    They can just convert the center median of I-5 between Santa Ana and Commerce to rail tracks and make the new innermost lanes HOV. I can guarantee it would transport more passengers than HOV lanes in the same amount of space occupied. It also has the added benefit of allowing for a more direct route between OC and LA and overall faster speeds whereas the existing alignment involves detouring from I-5 to Orange and then again to Fullerton. The legacy alignment can be reserved for existing services whereas the I-5 line can be used for express Surfliner services before HSR arrives to OC

    What would be a good location for an Anaheim I-5 station since Anaheim's gonna be the only city served by the I-5 rail line between Commerce and Santa Ana to have a station.
     
  8. Nov 1, 2019 #8

    sttom

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    I would put any improvements to the Capitol Corridor on the "never happening list". The Capitol Corridor was supposed to be Reno to Salinas sometime between 2010-2012. And here we are....thank you local politics. I personally don't think rail in this state will expand beyond existing corridors until we have a governor that is better than ambivalent towards Intercity rail. We've been promised a lot, but the delivery has left a lot to be desired.

    I'm also surprised there hasn't been a push to get LA-SD headways to 30 minutes. Or the Capitol to hourly, but then again, we for local politics to compensate for in our Intercity rail lines in this state.
     
  9. Nov 1, 2019 #9

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    They deemed a Reno extension unlikely for now due to high freight traffic on the Donner line and lack of funding. Literally the only other way is to provide passenger service to Reno is to build a new rail tunnel under the Donner Pass, and it would be nearly 40 miles long and take more than two decades to build and force Amtrak to swap locomotives at say Auburn for electric since 40 miles is too long for diesels (the nearly 8 mile Great Northern tunnel in Washington state is pushing it). On the other hand, Amtrak California has plans to extend it to Salinas (in tandem with Caltrain) by 2020. And then there's the Second Transbay Tube that would connect to the Transbay Terminal
     
  10. Nov 1, 2019 #10

    sttom

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    Forgive me for not having faith in local government in this state. Also what 40 mile tunnel? I've been following this for years and I have seen no mention of a tunnel project.

    I am aware of the Caltrain to Salinas project which is set to start by 2021, with Amtrak at some yet undetermined time in the future. This project only seems to have gotten started because of some scraps from SB1. Which is one of my many problems with California's state government, it talks big about public transit, but it and deals out scraps to disorganized local governments to implement things that have an incentive to screw each other over.

    Not to mention up here our services still haven't recovered from the recession.
     
  11. Nov 1, 2019 #11

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    They did not explicitly mention a Donner Tunnel but the high freight traffic and harsh winters on the Donner Pass rail line are going to convince Amtrak that the only other way to provide any more passenger train service to Reno is to build a tunnel since Union Pacific isn't going to allow any more passenger trains on the Donner rail line. The tunnel in question would start from northeast of Colfax before ending at Truckee.
     
  12. Nov 2, 2019 #12

    sttom

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    Donner Pass isn't fully double tracked thanks to the SP trying to save money once upon a time. There is a single track segment west of Truckee that is the major bottle neck. There are also segments were passing tracks are possible.

    Also, the UP owns the Western Pacific mainline which could also be improved to add capacity. I'm not saying to pay UP to upgrade both lines, but to throw some tax incentives at the WP line and pay to upgrade Donner Pass. A 40 mile tunnel is just a magic solution to a mundane problem.
     
  13. Nov 2, 2019 #13

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

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    I know it was manpower-intensive to keep open in the winter, but the original Summit Tunnel alignment over the pass as improved with snow sheds worked just fine for over a hundred years. How about simply restoring that? (Edit To Add) As a second track, I mean.
     
  14. Nov 8, 2019 #14

    sttom

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    I wouldn't see why not besides the state not wanting to get involved. If the pass was double tracked and had enough sidings, adding the promised 4 trips per day would be a matter of getting enough equipment to do it. There are a lot of stretches of former SP track that was once double tracked that isn't now. My grandpa was one of the crew members that was there when it happened.
    The only other obstacle I would see is getting the railway to use the Feather River Route long term to prevent congestion in the future.

    I know the reason things broke down the first time was over splitting upgrade costs. UP demanded that California pay for track work all the way to the border, which California was ok with in principle. The condition being that Nevada would pay for track work into Sparks. Nevada at the time was run by a "No New Spending" Governor Gibbons who said no. CA wanted to extend to Truckee and the railway wouldn't budge on the funding work to the border bit. Then the Recession hit. Or at least that's what news reports circa 2012 said.
     
  15. Nov 10, 2019 #15

    NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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    What kind of tax incentives at the Canyon Subdivision (former WP line)?
     
  16. Nov 11, 2019 #16

    sttom

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    My guess would be some sort of "pay for improvements and you get to write off some portion of the cost off sales, income or diesel taxes" along with some sort of property tax abatement. I only mention the property tax abatement since the property UP owns is probably still valued at 1980s values thanks to Prop 13, or even lower if it inherited the WP's tax basis. But this is all assuming the state even cares to put money into upgrading tracks east of Sacramento since the Capitol is now a effectively local concern. And the legislature loves those, keeps them from having to actually do things.
     

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