High Speed Rail Update: Animations of Potential Palmdale-Burbank Routes

Animation of one of the proposed HSR routes through the San Gabriel Mountains. The E2 alignment has a long tunnel in the valley, under the community of Shadow Hills. Image: Screengrab from HSR Blog.
Animation of one of the proposed HSR routes through the San Gabriel Mountains. The E2 alignment features a long underground section in the San Fernando Valley, under the community of Shadow Hills. Image: Screengrab from HSR Blog.

The California High Speed Rail Authority released three simple animations showing possible routes for the Palmdale to Burbank section. The animations appear on separate maps, so it’s hard to compare them side-by-side, but they give a pretty good idea of how very, very long the proposed tunnels are.

The routes vary slightly in the San Fernando Valley. They all begin in a tunnel, and cut either under Pacoima, emerging to pass around Hansen Dam, or under Shadow Hills, emerging for a moment in the recreation area before dipping back underground to cut through the San Gabriel Mountains. The routes also differ as they approach Palmdale, with the train emerging from the tunnels in a few places and then going back underground before finally emerging just west of Palmdale itself.

All three routes feature extensive tunnels through the San Gabriel Mountains. Estimated costs for the different HSRA segments were released in its 2016 Business Plan, but the cost differences between these three potential routes are buried in a Supplemental Alternatives Analysis. Buried deeply. The short version is that the most expensive of the three is Route E1, the middle route that passes close to the Pacoima Dam and steers mostly clear of Highway 14.

Check out the routes.

Note that there is a public meeting on the alignments tomorrow night, Thursday, September 22, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Fernangeles Recreation Center, 8851 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Sun Valley.

  • Railroader


  • Railroader


  • Miles Bader

    … and yet these same people probably embrace their 12-lane-local-road-strip-mall-fast-food-when-in-doubt-pave-it-hellscape……

  • QuestionQue

    California High-Speed Rail is engineered for 220 mph on long straight sections and the trains are capable of more than 220 mph and has gentle curves for less slowing than conventional track on the curves. The Federal ARRA grant requires speeds of at least 110 mph.

  • Truereporting

    Is “at least 110 mph” the same as 220-242 mph as claimed by others above? Will a one-way trip SF-LA take 2:20 as voters were promised. You be the judge.

  • QuestionQue

    You misread your own reports. California High-Speed Rail is built using Section 501, High-Speed Rail Corridor Development, funds used for eligibility for this program is restricted to projects intended to develop high-speed rail corridors. Such projects must be located on a Federally designated HSR corridor, and be intended to benefit IPR services reasonably expected to reach speeds of at least 110 miles per hour.

    California sought and successfully secured $3.3 billion in ARRA funds and other funds made available through federal appropriations and grants for planning and environmental work, as well as construction of the first construction section of new track dedicated exclusively to high speed passenger rail service in the Central Valley, which is underway.

  • Truereporting

    Federal stimulus funds used for construction have strings attached; they must be used for maintenance, repair, and expansion of the existing shared system carrying freight and HSR. Read the Congressional Research Report: https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42584.pdf
    “There are two main approaches to building high speed rail: (1) improving existing tracks and signaling to allow trains to reach speeds of up to 110 miles per hour (mph), generally on track shared with freight trains; and (2) building new tracks dedicated exclusively to high speed passenger rail service, to allow trains to travel at speeds of 200 mph or more.” Per https://www.fra.dot.gov/Elib/Document/1468 “The $8 billion HSR/IPR funding contained in ARRA represents the first appropriations for Sections 301, 302 and 501 of PRIIA,” which requires that the funds be used for upgrading existing facilities to permit 110 mph operations.

  • QuestionQue

    No where in the California High-Speed Rail plan does it say track between San José and Bakersfield will be shared with freight or that initial service will be diesel locomotives. Initial service from San José to Bakersfield will be on dedicated totally grade separated track using high speed electric trainsets capable of operating at 220 mph.

  • neroden

    Teslas are almost 100% 19th century technology, with the sole exception of IGBTs and computer controllers.

    Actually, they’re using the same tech in modern electric trains, except Tesla uses a somewhat less advanced and less powerful version than the trains.

    Bet you didn’t know that.

  • Bill hutchison

    That just is not true.

  • Truereporting

    Sorry, Kraut and Richard. The limitation is on the track, not the equipment. As to BS, take the time to understand exactly what is being built for $64 billion (without Burbank-Bakersfield) and what using the federal Stimulus dollars meant in terms of engineering. That money could only be used to upgrade existing functionality on standard track operations, and the best you can do on shared track is what you see on Acela trains in the eastern corridor–about 110 mph.

  • Kraut

    Stop trying to spread BS to cause FUD cause you look like a fool.

  • Kraut

    There are passing tracks at stations and all trains do not need to stop at all stations. Those are called EXPRESS trains. That is the way it works all over the world

  • Kraut

    Richard, don’t waste your time responding to, or worrying what Truereporting is saying, as it is just made up BS to cause FUD.

  • Railroader

    HSR accelerates up to 220 mph on long legs between stops…right ? Faster ? Maybe.

  • Richard

    Those are without the HSR trainsets. When the initial San Jose to Bakersfield segment is opened, conventional locomotives will operate the service and they are not capable of higher speed. When the Bakesfield to Burbank section is opened, HSR trainsets will be purchased that are capable of higher speed.

  • Richard

    The new line from Chengdu to Lhasa China just added to China’s long term plans is not a high speed line. It is expected to average only 108km/h.

    It is justified because the line will be very close to India and the disputed territory of Nyingchi. A good freight rail line that close to the border is crucial to Chinese preparation for possible war.

  • Truereporting

    Sorry, Richard. Current estimates of speed from Modesto to Bakersfield not more than 110 mph. CaHSRA plan specifically says est. time LA-San Jose will be over 4 hours, and an hour and train switch to CalTrain will get you to SF in 4.5 to 5 hours total.

  • Richard

    It’s 2 hours 40 minutes LA to SF, and while it may slow from Union Station to Burbank and north of San Jose; it will be capable of 242 miles per hour in between. Lets see your Tesla do that.

  • Richard

    It was never going to go 220 mph through the stations it was meant to serve. It’s difficult to board passengers while the train is going that speed.
    A dedicated track from Burbank to Union Station would be nice, but the train isnt going to get up to above 100 on it no matter what kind of track it is.

  • Petra

    It was supposed to be 220 mph in all stretches….

  • Petra

    Wow – a cheesy animation. Is that what we’re getting for our $9 billion now inflated to $64 billion and climbing?

    Kill it now.

  • Truereporting

    Which autos? Stanley steamers or Teslas? California’s HSR will run on speed-limiting standard track shared with freight trains, a major factor in making that promised 2:20 trip from LA to SF 5 hours long

  • Steve Taylor


    “…using 19th century technology”

    19th century technology just like automobiles are 19th century technology?

  • Dr. G

    I can’t wait for this to be built!!! Awesome.

  • Truereporting

    What California and the Demcramento leadership is showing is a remarkably deaf ear. Years behind schedule, at least twice as expensive and twice as slow as promised, using 19th century technology and twisting the political winds, California’s a prima fascia exhibit of why the largest public works transportation project was ill-conceived, over-promised, and under delivered. It will require taxpayer subsidies to build and operate its entire lifetime. How is that progress?

  • Railroader

    G’day ! SurZZ — up ! railroader.com It’s coming…at 220 mph in some stretches.

  • crazyvag

    Tunneling is easy. What’s hard to getting people to agree that tunnel portals won’t destroy the landscape which is still easier than running it on the surface and convincing those neighbors that additional tracks won’t be the end of the world which is STILL easier than a train through Atherton.

    Technical challenges can be solved. It’s the political challenges that delay your land acquisition that later cause LA Times to scold you how behind schedule your project is…

  • Maurice

    If Washington won’t fund this, Dacramento must.

    This is how California can show that it knows how to do big things in an era of Washington dysfunction and paralysis.

  • AlanTobey

    Just for comparison, China is now actively building a 1600 km HSR line from Chengdu to Lhasa at altitudes reaching above 12,000 feet and employing both dozens of tunnels and very extensive elevated roadbeds. Projected completion is targeted for 2030 at a cost of $130 billion or so. Perhaps this ambitious project is justified in the view of the central government because it supports the ongoing effort to pacify the restive Tibetan populations — an approach we haven’t yet tried here, but political desperation may be required if we are to pacify the restless hordes of drivers who remain opposed.

  • The tunnel idea is nuts. It’s the main reason the High-Speed Rail Authority switched to a different route plan months ago. It’s not going to happen. Even a Clinton administration won’t be able to provide money for this dumb project:



SPUR Talk: High-Speed Rail on its Way to Northern California

High-Speed Rail construction is well underway in the Central Valley, said Ben Tripousis, Northern California Regional Director for the California High Speed Rail Authority, during a forum at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association’s (SPUR) Mission Street center. “The High-Speed Rail question has shifted from ‘if’ to ‘when,'” he told the […]