Southern California breaking news and trends

Working on the railroad: Bullet-train consultant questioned over biz ties

Courtesy California High Speed Rail Authority

A rendering of what a high-speed rail train would look like traversing California's desert.

Frank Koppelman, a $400 per hour consultant with the California bullet train project, once worked for Cambridge Systematics Inc., the company that prepares the ridership estimates he was hired to assess for the rail authority. 

Koppelman, who reportedly has a close relationship with a top Cambridge executive, worked for the company on a pair of projects before taking his job with the CA High-Speed Rail Authority in 2010, says the L.A. Times

Critics say the ridership estimates from Cambridge are not accurate but Koppelman's panel concluded that the Cambridge estimates are reliable.

The consultant reportedly told the Times that his objectivity was not compromised because of connections to Cambridge, explaining that most experts in travel forecasting would have similar business ties.

Read More...

Shhh! OC is one of the quietest counties in the U.S.

train whistle

Kevin Galens via Flickr Creative Commons

When you can't hear the train, that's when the train is coming. And that's exactly how Orange County wants it.

On Jan. 18, the Orange County Transportation Authority will be celebrating its victory over railroad noise pollution with the establishment of "quiet zones" throughout the county. In your face, horns!

Additionally, OCTA has just completed a comprehensive rail safety program with $85 million of enhanced safety measures implemented at more than 50 crossings. The upgrades allowed OC cities to apply for "quiet zone" status, said the Orange County Transportation Authority in a statement.

Currently, more than 72 commuter and freight trains travel through the OC every day. By 2030 that number is expected to grow to 108. Multiply that by the law requiring engineers to sound the horn up to four times per crossing, and the answer is: loud.

Read More...