The Failure of “Me First” Transportation Planning

New BART director Nick Josefowitz has written an excellent article outlining the failures of “me first” transportation planning, using as examples ineffective freeway expansions in Orange County and the extension of the BART Fremont Line to Warm Springs, currently under construction.

See http://www.sfexaminer.com/the-failure-of-me-first-transportation-planning/.

The “Money Quote:”

…BART’s historical pattern of investment is a good example. In the past couple decades, the region has built extension after expensive extension on the edge of the system. This December, the latest of these expensive extensions will open in south Fremont near the Santa Clara county line. This new extension cost $890 million to build, and will cost over $12 million annually to operate.

This extension — and many of BART’s other end-of-line extensions — are the Bay Area version of Orange County’s failed freeway widening program. The new station in south Fremont will funnel more and more riders into an already overloaded BART system, without fundamentally increasing the capacity of the core system to accommodate them. Not only will this increase the crowding for those living in Fremont, but for all BART riders throughout the Bay Area…

Significant Rail News, October 31, 2014

Marin Voice: SMART Needs San Rafael-Larkspur Trolleys
http://www.marinij.com/Opinion/ci_26810902/Marin-Voice:-SMART-train-needs-San-RafaeltoLarkspur-trolleys

From the Dark Side, We Knew It Dept: Portland Eliminates Free Parking For Disabled Placards, Frees Hundreds of Spaces
http://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/index.ssf/2014/10/downtown_portland_disabled_par.html

We Knew That Dept: The Bias In Transportation System Design
http://systemicfailure.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/the-bias-in-transportation-system-design/

Chandler, Arizona Looks At Light Rail, BRT
http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/chandler/2014/10/28/chandler-approves-second-arizona-avenue-transit-study/18062139/?from=global&sessionKey=&autologin=

London, England Reveals Preferred Route For CrossRail Two
http://www.railway-technology.com/news/newsnew-crossrail-2-preferred-route-revealed-4422750

Major Downtown Sacramento Developer Thinks Streetcars Are Worth Paying Special Assessments
http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2014/10/30/downtown-developer-dave-taylor-believes-in.html

Opinion: Sprawl and Bad Transit Increase Unemployment
http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/10/30/confirmed-sprawl-and-bad-transit-increase-unemployment/

Clayton County, GA Votes On Extending MARTA Rail And Bus Service
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11749466/claytons-vote-on-marta-could-reverberate-beyond-county?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141024003

Construction Begins For All Aboard Florida’s Downtown Fort Lauderdale Station
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11749476/demolition-begins-for-all-aboard-floridas-new-station?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141024003

BART’s Oakland Airport Connector Testing, Should Open Before Thanksgiving
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/BART-s-Oakland-Airport-Connector-on-track-for-5856835.php

CAHSRA Tries To Short Circuit Judicial Process Via Surface Transportation Board Ploy
http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/10/29/4205579_state-rail-agency-seeks-to-avoid.html?rh=1

Plans For High[er, 110 mph] Speed Rail Between Chicago and Detroit
http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2014/10/29/high-speed-rail-boost-roundtrips-detroit-chicago/18088995/

Amtrak Creates “Blue Ribbon Panel” To Solve Chicago Rail Gridlock
http://www.metro-magazine.com/news/story/2014/10/amtrak-forms-blue-ribbon-panel-to-address-chicago-rail-gridlock.aspx?utm_campaign=Rail-Transit-NEW-20141029&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

Better Late Than Never Drowned Railcars Dept: New Jersey Transit Agencies Prepare For Future Hurricanes Like Sandy
http://www.metro-magazine.com/news/story/2014/10/nj-transit-agencies-preparing-for-future-sandy-like-storms.aspx?utm_campaign=Rail-Transit-NEW-20141029&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

Get A Warrant? Dept: Chicago Mayor Defends Random Bag Searches At CTA Rail Stations
http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/rahm-defends-cta-searches-world-different-now/mon-10272014-335pm

Sacramento Streetcar Funding Push Underway
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11749062/science-center-downtown-streetcar-funding-push-is-on?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141023002

CA Bullet Train Barely Discussed In Governors Race
http://www.latimes.com/local/politics/la-me-campaign-train-20141028-story.html#page=1

Remaining Free Parking At Certain BART Stations Days Numbered
http://www.contracostatimes.com/News/ci_26794340/End-of-era-for-free-parking-at-BART

BART Seeks Public Comments On BART Station Improvements In San Francisco
http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/public-can-weigh-in-on-bart-stations-improvements-in-sf/Content?oid=2910441

Silicon Valley Business Group Wants To Improve Caltrain
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Business-Caltrain-group-vows-to-improve-commute-5849249.php

Sun Also Rises In East Dept: All Aboard Florida Company Spending Money On Political Lobbying
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11748590/all-aboard-florida-spends-millions-on-florida-political-process-newspaper-investigation-finds?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141021002

Well, Media Thinks So Dept: Bullet Train Path Looking Smoother
http://capitolweekly.net/bullet-train-path-smoother-california/

Rail And Transit Advocates Knew This Years Ago Dept: Don’t Get Your Hopes Up About Self-Driving Cars
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/10/why-you-shouldnt-get-your-hopes-up-for-the-self-driving-car-calif-high-speed-rail-no-14/381850/

Tax To Fund ACE Trains To Modesto Discussed By Politicians
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11748271/officials-advocate-stanislaus-transportation-tax

Chicago, IL: Flyover Aims At Cutting Metra And Amtrak Train Congestion
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11748273/flyover-aimed-at-cutting-rail-congestion?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141018002

Amtrak May Sell Real Estate and/or Development Rights In Northeast Corridor To Raise Capital Funding
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-23/amtrak-considers-selling-real-estate-for-development.html

What French Cities Can Teach The U.S. About Transit Design
http://www.citylab.com/commute/2014/10/what-france-can-teach-us-cities-about-transit-design/381742/

New Jersey: Will Wise Guys’ Kin Get Benefit Of Their Property?
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11748000/transit-agency-weighs-court-bout-vs-mobsters-kin?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141017003

No One Goes There Anymore Because Its Too Crowded Dept: Five New York Subway Records Set in September
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11747972/subway-hit-new-ridership-record-five-times-last-month?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141017003

FRA Releases First “Southwest Multi-State Rail Planning Study”
http://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0723

But Are You Sure They Are Willing To Pay For It Dept: Poll Says Americans Favor Public Transit Over Roads
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/10/more-prefer-public-transit-to-road-building/

Texas: Proposed Routes For Dallas-Houston High Speed Rail Revealed
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/transportation/20141022-proposed-routes-for-dallas-houston-high-speed-rail-revealed.ece

Silicon Valley Sprawls East, How Tech Jobs, Housing,  Transit Are Shaping A “Megaregion”
http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2014/10/21/silicon-valley-sprawls-east-how-tech-jobs-housing.html?page=all

China Firm Lowballs Price On Constructing MBTA Replacement Railcars
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11747793/china-lowballs-mbta-bid?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141016002

Lack Of Park And Ride Slots Reduces Los Angeles Transit Ridership, Media Says
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-california-commute-20141021-story.html

Minnesota: How The Twin Cities Got Transit Right [North Star Excepted?]
http://money.cnn.com/interactive/technology/minneapolis-light-rail/index.html

Revamping of Sacramento Valley Station – still no fix for long distance to platforms, though
http://www.comstocksmag.com/web-only/railway-station-revamp

Important Transit Measures In 2014 Elections
http://t4america.org/2014/10/21/transportation-related-measures-were-tracking-in-the-2014-elections/

From The Dark Side Dept: Can a $5.4 Billion Tunnel Fixed The “Notorious” I-710 Gap In South Pasadena?
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-ca-g-tunnel-for-notorious-710-gap-20141021-htmlstory.html

Business Leaders Claim Labor Pushed Proposed Railcar Factory From L.A. County
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11747009/business-leaders-say-labor-is-pushing-rail-car-plant-from-la-county?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141015002

Chicago, IL: Metra’s 30-Year Plan Could Reshape Regional Rail
http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/chicago-metra-30-year-plan-regional-rail-future

BART Makes Progress With South Fremont/San Jose Extension
http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/bart-to-san-jose-athens-metro-trams-surabaya

From The Dark Side Dept: Media Parrots Highway Lobby Alarm About “How Terrible” Congestion Is
http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/cost-of-traffic-congestion-numbers-twist-the-data-in-annual-prank

From The Dumb Side Dept: Golden Gate Bridge District Wants To Dunn Walkers, Bicyclists For Using Big Red Bridge
http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_26769191/golden-gate-bridge-renews-talk-tolls-walkers-bicyclists

Portland, OR: Five Reasons To Support The Milwaukie LRT Extension
http://transitsleuth.com/2014/10/19/portland-milwaukie-sellwood-pmlr/

New York Subway Prepares For Ebola With Random Subway Drills
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/16/andrew-cuomo-ebola-subway-drills_n_5999108.html

Columnist: No Winners In Railcar Builder Kinkisaryo’s Departure From Palmdale
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-newton-column-palmdale-rail-cars-20141020-column.html

San Jose BART Extension Work Continues, Above And Below Ground
http://www.mercurynews.com/News/ci_26748487/South-Bay-BART-work-moving-ahead-above-and-below-ground

SMART Could Get More Railcars After 2016 Startup
http://www.marinij.com/novato/ci_26750110/smart-could-get-more-rail-cars-after-service

Freight Would Pay For It? Dept: New $250+ Billion+ High Speed Rail Plan Revealed From Moscow To Beijing
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2796861/plans-unveiled-new-144bn-high-speed-rail-link-moscow-beijing-cut-trans-siberian-journey-time-4-hours.html

Anti-Rail Gadfly Randal O’Toole Surfaces in Virginia Beach, VA Calling LRT “Lie Rail” (sic)
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11738446/light-rail-or-lie-rail-foe-tears-into-tide-at-beach-talk?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141011002

Report Says Younger Generation Prefers Transit [And Bicycles] To Cars
http://articles.philly.com/2014-10-17/news/55112681_1_millennial-generation-public-transit-nj-transit

CHSRA Wins Round In California Supreme Court; Opponents Continue Battle In Other Venues
http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article2830687.html

Foothill Gold Line Releases New Promotional Video
http://www.masstransitmag.com/press_release/12010037/foothill-gold-line-releases-new-video?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141010003

Twin Cities, MN: Metro Transit’s Green Line Doubles Ridership Over Previous Bus Service
http://streets.mn/2014/10/15/lrt-beats-bus-in-the-central-corridor/

Zurich, Switzerland: World Class Transit Metropolis
http://vimeo.com/108884155

Group Says High Speed Rail Shortchanging West Fresno Residents
http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/10/14/4177416_west-fresno-group-says-more-money.html?&rh=1

Creepy Crawlies Halloween Dept: Deadly Snakes, Leopards And Landmines Can’t Stop Sri Lanka Railroad
http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/venomous-snakes-landmines-and-leopard-attacks-cant-stop-sri-lankas-railroad

Another Reason Not To Drive Dept: Woman Who Doesn’t Own Car Gets 18 Tickets From Fastrak Highway Bureaucrats
http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2014/10/13/call-kurtis-i-dont-drive-fastrak-so-stop-ticketing-me/

Podcast: Return Of Streetcars In The United States
http://wnpr.org/post/return-american-streetcar

Nothing To Worry About Peak Period Only Commuter Bus Dept: Private Bus Tries To Compete Against Toronto Streetcars; Horsecars Too
http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/private-bus-toronto-streetcar-isle-of-man-horsecar

Opinions On California’s High Speed Rail Plans
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/10/all-aboard-for-the-california-high-speed-rail-chronicles/381386/

Thought Experiments Dept: Evolution of Twin Cities’ Green Line: A “Retrospective”
http://transportationist.org/2014/10/13/the-evolution-of-the-green-line-a-retrospective/

Before The Oil Runs Out Dept: Middle East Plans $200 Billion Worth of Rail And Transit Investments
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11720543/200b-worth-of-rail-and-metro-projects-planned-in-middle-east?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141007002

I’ll See It When I Believe It Dept, Road Bureaucracy Edition: DMV Offices People Like (?!)
http://www.mercurynews.com/mr-roadshow/ci_26704233/roadshow-best-dmv-office-may-be-your-home

Caltrain Trench In Palo Alto Would Cost Over $1 Billion
http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_26700938/study-trench-caltrain-palo-alto-could-cost-1b

Pittsburg Secures Grant For Its eBART Station
http://www.contracostatimes.com/east-county-times/ci_26698659/pittsburg-secures-2-5-million-ebart-station

Chicago, IL: Aldermen Seek O’Hare Airport Express Trains To Union Station, McCormick Place
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11715574/aldermen-seek-ohare-express-train-to-union-station-mccormick-place?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141003003

Dallas DART Looks At Rail Extensions Options To North
http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/dallas-metro-light-rail-bus

Rod Diridon Receives “Hall Of Fame” Award From American Public Transit Association
http://www.kcbd.com/story/26727636/rod-diridon-sr-to-receive-hall-of-fame-award-from-american-public-transportation-association-in-houston-on-tuesday-october-14

Are There Differences Between Motorist And Pedestrian Brains?
http://streets.mn/2014/10/08/is-there-a-physical-difference-between-the-brains-of-pedestrians-and-motorists/

Minneapolis, MN Will Pursue Streetcars and BRT For Poor, Minority Neighborhoods
http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2014/10/minneapolis-pledges-pursue-streetcars-and-brt-way-better-serve-poor-and-mino

Tour Of The Roof Of New Anaheim Surfliner Train Terminal
http://gizmodo.com/a-tour-of-the-futuristic-roof-on-californias-new-high-s-1641494500

Amtrak Northeast Corridor Hudson River Tunnels Into New York Need Extensive Repairs
http://www.metro-magazine.com/news/story/2014/10/report-details-needed-work-to-fix-amtrak-n-y-tunnels.aspx?utm_campaign=Rail-Transit-NEW-20141008&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

New Hudson Tunnels May Require Amtrak To Buy $400 Million Hotel Next To Penn Station
http://www.nj.com/traffic/index.ssf/2014/10/amtrak_has_404_million_hurdle.html

Boorish Punks Inconvenience Other Riders On New York Subways
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11714401/man-spread-a-widening-blight-on-public-transportation-say-riders?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS141002002

Downtown L.A. Light Rail Subway Begins Construction
http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/la-downtown-subway-istanbul-metro-path-extension

Supporters Say Alameda County Measure BB “Last Chance” For Livermore BART Extension
http://www.contracostatimes.com/contra-costa-times/ci_26674731/city-bart-officials-call-measure-bb-last-chance

From The Doh! Homer! Dark Side Dept: Talking Cars Are Distracting To Drivers
http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_26678597/talking-your-car-can-be-dangerous-studies-say

New York Will Face Transit Crisis When Hudson Tubes Undergo Repairs
http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2014/10/06/with-no-new-rail-tunnel-on-the-horizon-under-the-hudson-new-york-faces-a-looming-transport-crisis/

Hey, I Thought This Was In Tony Soprano Land Dept: Transit Board To Rehire Felon After Prison Term Up
http://wvmetronews.com/2014/10/01/centra-board-votes-to-retain-general-manager-after-prison-time-board-president-resigns/

Doh! Homer! Dept: Dan Walters – Bay Bridge Failures Cast Doubt On High Speed Rail
http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article2620092.html

Concerned About Safety, California PUC To Inspect Railroad Bridges For First Time
http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article2621371.html

Poll Shows High Interest In Riding SMART By Marin And Sonoma Residents
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11709930/smart-poll-shows-interest-among-potential-riders-is-strong?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS140927002

CHSRA Takes First Steps Towards Buying Rolling Stock
http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2014/10/02/high-speed-rail-authority-takes-first-step-toward.html

Zombie Trains In Time For Halloween Dept: Push For Ballard-West Seattle Monorail Line Rises From Its Grave
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11708914/push-for-ballard-west-seattle-monorail-line-revived?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS140926003

Hard To Tell When BART Parking Lots Are Full
http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Infuriated-drivers-go-in-circles-as-BART-parking-5795134.php

Marin County: Generic SMART Station Design On The Right Track For Civic Center
http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_26643461/county-generic-smart-station-right-track-at-civic

Fort Worth, TX: TEX Rail Receives FTA “Record of Decision”
http://www.metro-magazine.com/news/story/2014/10/tex-rail-receives-fta-record-of-decision.aspx?utm_campaign=Rail-Transit-NEW-20141001&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

Tucson Streetcar Ridership Continues To Exceed Projections
http://www.metro-magazine.com/news/story/2014/09/tucson-streetcar-ridership-exceeds-expectations.aspx?utm_campaign=Rail-Transit-NEW-20141001&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

“My Bridge For A Bucket of Bolts” (With Apologies To Shakespeare’s Richard III) Dept: Bay Bridge Bolts Sitting In Water
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Nearly-all-Bay-Bridge-tower-rods-sitting-in-water-5792535.php

A 110 mph Upgrade Example for San Joaquins

See links below to an article and website about proposed upgrades to existing Chicago-Detroit Amtrak corridor service on existing tracks, to 110 mph standards and other improvements, all for less than $3 billion.

As shown by the Chicago-Detroit corridor example, with the addition of a Bakersfield-Los Angeles route via Tejon Pass–34 miles shorter than via Tehachapi–conventional upgraded San Joaquins could travel from Sacramento or the Bay Area to Los Angeles Union Station in ~4 hours, 45 minutes versus ~3 hours for 220 mph non-stop express high speed rail, or 3 hours, 30 minutes+/- for a high speed “all stops local.”

But CAHSRA wants Calfornia taxpayers to spend another $50 to $100 billion on top of the $10-$12 billion+/-  a combined San Joaquin upgrade/Tejon route would cost to save a maximum of 60-90 minutes per trip. While 3.0-3.5 hour travel times are needed to effectively compete with air travel between Sacramento/Bay Area and Southern California, they are not needed to compete with most intercity trips, which are made by automobile.

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2014/10/29/high-speed-rail-boost-roundtrips-detroit-chicago/18088995/

http://www.greatlakesrail.org/

CHSRA Responds Directly to TRAC; Our Response

TRAC’s opinion piece on September 28th (http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/article2614730.html) in the Sacramento Bee apparently annoyed the denizens of the California High Speed Rail Authority, leading to a response by CEO Jeff Morales (http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/article2623053.html), plus a followup, much more detailed letter directly to TRAC on October 22 (http://www.calrailnews.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Response-to-TRAC-10.21.14.pdf).

The text of our response to Morales’ Bee op-ed and followup letter is presented below.

Mr. Morales:
You PR people chose to reiterate their talking points rather than respond to our arguments, in composing your October 21 letter responding to our SacBee OpEd. Key examples:
You write “We remain confident that an operating segment can be delivered with existing funds and future Cap and Trade proceeds, at which point a private entity would pay for the rights to operate the system (and receive the revenue it generates), thus allowing for completion of the full statewide system.” Note the lack of an answer for how CHSRA will fill the $26 billion shortfall in the budget for its Initial Operating Segment, which it admits needs to be complete before any private investment is possible. We all know Cap and Trade won’t go that far.
Your people either don’t understand or refuse to accept the judicial rulings. As we wrote, both the trial court and the Court of Appeal found deficiencies in CHSRA’s compliance with Proposition 1A. The Court of Appeal, however, ruled there was no remedy for the failure to comply, at this time. The Supreme Court chose to not review that decision. In no way did it “reaffirm compliance.”
Your comments about “what the Congress and President appropriated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” betray either an intentional misstatement of the terms of the legislation, or ignorance of them. Several Midwestern states are upgrading Amtrak service to 110 mph under that program, on “tracks owned by private freight operators.”
You write “Currently, there is no passenger rail link between Bakersfield and the Los Angeles Basin…” If CHSRA makes good on its intention to proceed with Palmdale-Burbank, there won’t be one for a very long time. While it wasn’t mentioned in the OpEd due to space considerations, TRAC has long considered the missing rail link as its top state priority.
You write “We have consulted extensively with experienced foreign governments and high-speed rail operators to improve and refine our plans.” This is a far cry from the open bidding process we recommend, where the successful bidder puts capital at risk, rather than mere advice.
Finally, you offer a very skewed reading of Proposition 1A. CHSRA is reverent about complying with legislative intent (except that of having an operating system by 2020), even though these are not mandatory provisions. Yet it brazenly flouts the mandatory requirements–the part of the bill it didn’t write–and then begs the Supreme Court for a Get out of Jail Free card when caught.
If you wonder how CHSRA managed to alienate rail advocates that would otherwise be its natural supporters, look no further than these points.

Spanish HSR Station & Tunnel Flood In Girona, Spain

Photo – Flooded High Speed Rail Station in Girona, Spain

By Richard F. Tolmach

Barcelona-Figueres AVE high-speed trains as well as all Spanish international TGV service was stopped for over a week, following heavy rain September 29 that flooded the Girona AVE station and blocked the six kilometer tunnel north of the station. About 15,000 riders were negatively affect- ed, and several hundred trains cancelled.

Renfe was initially forced to cancel all AVE (high speed) and AVANT (regional expresses) north of Barcelona, partly because the line was cut, partly because the entire local fleet was stranded in Figueres. By three days after the incident, water was drained from Girona AVE sta- tion and service was re-established to that point, using sets borrowed from Madrid. The fleet shortage and delays turning trains also somewhat disrupted and delayed Barcelona-Madrid AVE service.

The line north of Girona was more chal- lenging, because infrastructure operator ADIF had to clear 15 million gallons of water from the last mile of the tunnel, a process that lasted several more days. ADIF requested help from the army’s Emergency Military Unit (UME) which brought 84 sol- diers, 30 vehicles, a boat and an aircraft

to Girona. Its pumps were theoretically capable of moving 300,000 gallons an hour, but the distance between the closest access point and the water meant slower progress.

Conditions for travelers to Figueres and France were chaotic. Passengers were gen- erally redirected to conventional regional trains or bus shuttles, but without much warning. International passengers clogged both Girona and Perpignan stations, waiting for delayed buses to show up.

Between 2 and 4 inches of rain fell in the 24 hours preceding the tunnel problem. This certainly was not a 100-year storm, but set a record for more than decade, because the region has had low rainfall for years. Various streets and highways around Girona also flooded at the same time.

The Girona AVE station was particu- larly vulnerable to flooding because it was placed underground next to a watercourse. The conventional Renfe station above it, perched 20 feet above water level and with a modern viaduct connecting northward, was relatively unaffected.

The AVE station filled to platform level, approximating the appearance of a Venetian canal. The tunnel filled to 7 meters height, enough to submerge the catenary. Luckily, no trains were on the line at the time.

For three days, ADIF was silent on the cause of the flood, but then blamed the problem on city infrastructure. ADIF went so far as to claim that flooding of AVE through Girona acted to divert water from flooding city streets, which prevented “greater harm” to the city itself.

Girona Mayor Carles Puigdemont retort- ed, calling the ADIF statement “a shameful text that is an insult to public intelligence.”

Opening the line required overcoming many problems. The tunnels were filled with mud, which had to be cleaned with more water. Until the tunnels were dry, ADIF technicians couldn’t check damage caused to catenary or AVE’s electrical and signalling equipment.

Ironically, less than a week after the disaster, Girona hosted a summit of cit-
ies on high speed for which French par- ticipants had to arrive by bus. Girona Parliamentary representative Santi Vila believes that the AVE flood made the Rajoy administration “ridiculous in the eyes of the world.” In a speech before Parliament, he noted that Rajoy has made high speed rail its flagship project, and characterized the tunnel flood as a “collapse of a project of which [Rajoy] boasted until recently.”

Mayor Puigdemont not only criticized the AVE project for negligence, but for intrin- sic safety flaws in its design. He made
the point that many lives would had been in danger if the tunnel had flooded when trains were operating instead of overnight. The tunnel section below the river was one of the most expensive features of the line through Girona, but now seems to have become the Achilles heel of the project.

On October 10, the Girona City Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution stating that the event showed that the AVE line, although operating for 21 months through Girona, is clearly not completed and lacks essential safety provisions.

Officials characterized ADIF as having produced “totally unnecessary and unac- ceptable risk.” The text concludes by ask- ing ADIF to complete “immediately and urgently without further delay” remaining work especially in Central Park and in the neighborhood of Sant Narcís. It has been forwarded to the Minister for Public Works, Ana Pastor, the Ministry of Development and President of ADIF.

The resolution criticizes ADIF for resum- ing service without adequate security. Mayor Puigdemont was sent to Madrid to put ADIF on notice of the City’s concerns..

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