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Barcelona’s Line 9 – Inspiring Montreal’s Pink Line (www.cat-bus.com)
85 points by luu 12 days ago | hide | past | web | 70 comments | favorite





I live in relatively small city with a pretty extensive "pre-metro" network. Our trams ride part underground, part on seperate lines above ground and part on tracks embedded in the road. Visiting cities like Barcelona, Paris or London always annoys me because of how awesome the Metro system is. Trains are usually on time, frequent and very fast.

I used to live in Tokyo and Singapore before moving to a crumbling city which aspires to developing world levels of corruption, blight, and bureaucratic ineptitude called “San Francisco”. Completely agree with how amazing well run transportation systems are. Also amazes me how consistently SF can fail miserably at even the most basic transportation projects. (SFO is a notable exception. No idea how that happened but we are so lucky to have it)

I moved from Singapore to San Francisco in 2012. Same shock. And yet, tons of interesting things happen in San Francisco, which is why I guess I'm still here.

I think we met at a few events towards the end of my time in Singapore. Definitely have a decent number of mutual friends.

It's quite a cool line. It's the only metro connection to Barcelona Airport, although if you're going to the center, it's a bit of a detour, as there are more direct routes.

Since the line is completely automated, you can sit at the front or back and get an unobstructed view of the tracks/tunnel.

If you're into trains/trams (like a certain founder of Pied Piper), it's worth checking out.


FWIW Line 9 construction was started in 2009 and is currently expected to finish in 2023. Most of it is open already though. It's a very cool construction technique but it's not fast.

Most of it but not most useful, unfortunately. Middle piece is missing - the one you actually need to connect entire city. Until that is in place - you still need transfers in city center.

The author is not right about the final cost of the Line 9 in Barcelona. It is a financial disaster x5 times more expensive than projected, twice expensive the high speed connection between Madrid and Barcelona! http://www.libremercado.com/2015-06-12/escandalo-la-linea-9-...

That Libre Mercado story is from 2015, when the line was still incomplete. It says "the final costs may reach $16.6B", but doesn't mention how much has already been spent or how realistic that upper-bound estimate was.

The OP article is from 2017, and likely has more up-to-date numbers (they claim a final construction cost of $6.9B). It is true that there were major cost overruns with Barcelona's Line 9, but not to the degree the Libre Mercado article implies.

More generally, readers using the Libre Mercado article as a source should be aware that Spanish media is extremely polarized on the question of Catalan independence, far more so even than current US media polarization. The Libre Mercado article is a product of that environment and reads as a hit piece on the pro-independence Catalan leadership.

On a personal note, I'm back in the US now but I used to live on a Barcelona L9 stop and the line is really nice. Fast, quiet, frequent service, ergonomic station design—OP is right, more cities should be copying it.


Some notes: - Libremercado quotes an openly pro-indepence as the main source: https://www.elcritic.cat/

- there is only 24 out 39 stations in nov-2019. The projections of my source are for the full line, when L9 north and south should connect.

- they ran out of money and finally they found an investor with another €750M. https://www.lavanguardia.com/local/barcelona/20180823/451412...

https://www.expansion.com/catalunya/2019/10/04/5d966291468ae...

May be it’s a great engineering achievement, but please don’t take it as an example of financial execution.


From the article:

> Another issue of the Barcelona Line 9, is actually cost.

> The Initial estimates for the Barcelona Line 9 pegged the cost at around 2 billion Euros (3 billion CAD), but actual construction cost turned out to be 6.927 billion Euros (10.3 billion CAD). Per kilometre, that’s 145 million Euros (216 million CAD).


Where is that money? Was it lost to corruption, mismanagement or incompetence?

Time. Time multiplies costs. Time is the destroyer of worlds. Mismanagement and corruption can burn time, but in general I think much bigger factors are regulation, which requires coordination among distant, unmotivated entities, difficult even with good project management; and 2) inevitable bureaucratic and democratic squabbles that continually impose new hurdles and regularly move the goal posts.

Also consider inflation. If a project is 5 or 10 years late, simple inflation can blow up reported budgets by large fractions. When people report that California High Speed Rail will end up costing $100 billion, like 30-40% of that is simply counting inflation-adjusted costs at the time of expenditure for the extended timelines. But most people think that's $100 billion in today's dollars.

My rule as a voter is that once a project is approved, I'll vote against or oppose any modification to the project, even if I didn't want the project or would really like the modification. I realize there are often rational reasons for modifications, but in public works the risk of burning too much time is simply too high. No project will be perfect; just get it done, already. If it made sense in year 1 when approved, it should make as much sense in year 20, otherwise it should never have begun.


Probably all of them. We tend to think corruption first because the guy that was highest authority in the region for decades (and the capo of independentists mafia) is charged with accusations of a massive and systemic institutional corruption, that extracted 3% of every public contract.

The guy has been found to hold foreign accounts with astronomical amounts. That's not even controversial, he's more or less confessed, but he's not jailed yet after years of investigation and mountains of evidence.

Still that's not 3%, but multiple 100%'s.


It Montreal, it will cost more... the corruption is more than 3% either...

It is worth noting that BART chose to do something similar for its extension into San Jose, and now the deadline has slipped from 2026 to as late as 2030.

That Line 9 is pretty radical. If it works, it'll be cool. Might be best to wait a bit and see if it works.

That's true, but honestly, given the glacial pace of transit infrastructure development in Canada, it probably will be done by the time this project gets approved.

(I'm a Torontonian.)


Yep. Was waiting for Toronto to chime in on this one. If only... if only...

I'm sure the Ontario line will be a great success... /s

> One interesting thing to notice is that there isn’t much space for walkways inside the tunnels. In the image above, there’s no place to walk between the center wall and the train.

I wonder if air resistance becomes a problem with such small tunnels.


Barcelona L2 and L3 available as addons for OpenBVE simulator.[0]

[0] https://en.bvebarcelona.cat


It says its the longest metro service in Europe... I assume they are not including the Elizabeth Line in London that will be 117km in total.

It says it's the longest "metro line" once it finishes construction. The Elizabeth line isn't a metro line, and it's underground tunnel is only 21km.

Longest automated metro line. Also the Elizabeth Line is not really a metro but a high frequency regional rail line.

This might be off topic, but I highly encourage anyone to visit Montreal - ideally in summer, but even in winter. It's the most vibrant city in Canada, and the 2nd best city in North America (behind NYC).

If you want to discover precisely what the Bay Area is missing when people talk about "culture" - Montreal has it.

Note: I'm a 30+ year Bay Area native.


> the 2nd best city in North America (behind NYC).

I'm curious what set of criteria could possibly take into account all the cities of North America and lead to such a conclusion. Montreal and NYC are not even remotely similar.


Disagree. Montreal is as if Paris and Brooklyn had a baby.

I no nowhere else on the North American continent that has as much nightlife (except Miami), as many restaurants (except NYC), as many universities (???) and young people (???) and just "stuff to do"

The city has a very lived-in feeling and great architecture. Completely the opposite of California.


I've wanted to visit Montreal my whole life but this comparison makes me want to avoid it!

It's a great city for tourists in summer.

But to live in Montreal is another ball game. Shops close at 9. On weekends by 5. Never ending construction. Old noisy apartments. Crazy drivers. Badly marked road signs.

The only good thing I have experienced so far is the metro system & the underground city.


I quite enjoyed it when I was there and I intend to visit again, but the comments above about it having the greatest nightlife of anywhere except Miami struck me as slightly mad. Maybe there's some secret stuff that I have not discovered yet...

You haven't missed anything. St Catherine's street is all the nightlife you get in Montreal. As a resident of Montreal in my opinion, a tourist will find the city good for a week or so partly because of its unique look n feel European style. After that the reality of Montreal's worn down infrastructure kicks in. I would say Montréal is just riding on its old glory days before Bill 101.

Also good luck getting customer service in English. Its worse if you are not white.

I am not sure you can call it 'culture', but I find Québec is culturally friendly to "white French speakers"


When’s the last time you’ve been? I’ve found everyone to be extremely friendly, even in the east (French) side of the island.

All you need to do is learn “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French - but I’m learning!”


Im a temp. resident of Montreal but contemplating on moving out of Quebec soon. As a non white minority, I don't feel welcome in Quebec at all.

There are more, but here is the latest:

https://twitter.com/sleeCJAD/status/1192881494689288192


I hardly think this problem, while absolutely abhorrent, is unique to Montreal.

You will have to be a resident in Montreal to experience it. Tourist spots don't count.

That really depends on the neighbourhood.

Some typically french lower class neighbourhoods have xenophobic francophones, but in the last 15 years they have moved off the main island or in the far east boroughs (Riviere des Prairies, etc.).

If you're on the actual island of Montreal, it's unlikely you'll face any problems for not speaking French. I've known dozens of people immigrate here speaking only one language and adapt fine.


Why the downvotes, this is exactly how it is, we have to talk about it openly, expose it and try to change it!

Or learn a little French, which is extremely not at all hard.

I spent a few days there and by the end of my time was conducting the entirety of my simple shop purchases in French, despite not having studied it before.


That's a very tall claim in regards to learning a language especially French.

You just need to learn some basics. "I would like" "I feel like" "Where is" "Hello, goodbye, Good day"



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