SCAG Maglev Task Force

Reported by Paul Dyson, RailPAC President — This is the first of these meetings that I have attended and so some of these observations may be old news to many of you.

Although the Task Force is meant to focus on the core line from West Los Angeles to Ontario Airport, the majority of those attending the meeting were from Anaheim and South Eastern cities not along the line of route. Because Orange County voters have rejected an airport at El Toro, northern OC cities, especially Anaheim, are desperate to find means of moving passengers to and from airports. Anaheim is especially anxious to protect its tourist and convention business. The OC reps called for further studies for a link along the 57 to join the Ontario line.

The consultants, IBI Group, have mapped out a calendar of 4 more informational presentations which are, including today’s:

April: Review of System Design
May: Review of alignments
June: Station Concepts and Maintenance Facility.
July: Summary of Initial Operating System.
August: Cost Analysis.

Looks like they are keeping themselves busy.

Also, there are plans for a delegation to visit Shanghai to view the Maglev, but the group is still arguing as to who should pay. Apparently the Chinese authorities, who are now de facto in the business of selling their own system, will pay expenses for the group while in China. The ethics of this are questionable.

The cities are forming a JPA to move the project forward. The theory is still that private capital will build and operate the service on “donated” public rights of way.

The line will be predominantly on elevated structures, with pairs of pillars at 100ft spacing an average of 25ft above the ground. Alignments under review include the 10 freeway, and a combination of UP row, 60 , 710 and 10 freeways to LAUS, and in all cases the 10 freeway west thereof. One can only imagine the nightmare traffic during construction.

Members expressed concern that the Chairperson had missed the last three meetings and overall attendance was poor.

My comments: I’d like to think that this money-sink monstrosity will never be built, but dumber things have happened. The consultants admit that it will be extremely challenging as the chosen route (as with any other in the region) is completely built up. This is particularly true along the freeway alignments, and the structures will have to be a lot taller than 25ft to get over the existing interchanges. The four stations will be about 18 miles apart, which is about the total distance of the existing line in China. It seems therefore that the trains will be either accelerating or decelerating for most of the trip and that the line will be unable to draw much benefit from the high speed capability of the technology.

Groups such as ours need to continue to focus on less expensive alternatives that can be implemented in a much shorter time frame. We have to continue to campaign for upgrading Metrolink to a Regional Express system.

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