News


Study: High-speed rail could use Caltrain corridor

Analysis looks at running bullet trains on upgraded Caltrain tracks

Caltrain officials on Wednesday (Aug. 17) presented the results of a study that tested the feasibility of integrating high-speed rail with Caltrain on its Peninsula tracks.

While stressing the preliminary nature of the study results, Caltrain Modernization Program Acting Director Marian Lee said the possibility clearly exists for a "blended system" that could accommodate high-speed trains and a modernized Caltrain along a shared two-track corridor.

"The blended track system has merit," she said.

The study, which was conducted by LTK Engineering Services using computer simulations, concluded that if Caltrain were to electrify all of its operating trains, upgrade its signal system, and construct a 7- to 8-mile stretch of "passing tracks" in the middle section of the line, the existing two-track right-of-way could accommodate up to four high-speed trains and six Caltrain trains per hour, Lee said.

The analysis supported a concept proposed by Peninsula lawmakers Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and Assemblyman Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park), who in April called upon the California High-Speed Rail Authority to revisit its plans to build out a high-speed rail system that would run separately from Caltrain between San Francisco and San Jose.

A high-speed rail system running independently from Caltrain would be duplicative and would never earn local support, the lawmakers said in a joint statement issued two months ago.

Sen. Simitian on Wednesday said he welcomed the results of Caltrain's test study.

"My colleagues and I have been making the case that High Speed Rail 'done right' means a 'blended system' along the San Jose to San Francisco corridor -- a system that integrates High Speed Rail with a 21st century Caltrain," Simitian said in a statement.

Since California voters approved Proposition 1A in 2008, which authorized $9.95 billion for the high-speed rail system, Peninsula residents and officials have vociferously debated the merits of the rail plans, including design options that entailed adding aerial tracks and tunneling underground.

Lee cautioned against overplaying the results of the analysis, emphasizing that much more research would need to done before plans to construct a blended system could move forward.

"This is an ongoing study," she said. "There are a lot of assumptions we still have to think through."

Lee said the test did not consider freight train use along the corridor, the impact to cities like Belmont where passing tracks would be installed, or the need to accommodate increased train traffic by lowering crossing gates and blocking street traffic at more than 50 intersections between San Francisco and San Jose.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelof van Ark emphasized in a statement Wednesday that the shared-track plan would be an "initial" step for the bullet-train system, which eventually would call for four tracks and the ability to run 10 to 12 trains per hour.

The two-track plan would "allow us to provide a reduced but adequate initial level of high-speed service in the near term," he said.

"I look forward to working closely with our planning partners along the corridor to evaluate this provisional study and pursuing a regional consensus to advance this segment," van Ark said.

Eshoo said she was "pleased" with the findings but that more work needs to be done in order to reach a consensus.

"The preliminary analysis shows a viable path forward that minimizes community impacts by keeping the project substantially within the existing Caltrain right-of-way, avoids unwanted aerial viaducts, and saves taxpayers billions of dollars," she said.

The cost of the high-speed rail system, which is planned to stretch from Los Angeles to San Francisco, was recently estimated at $67 billion.

Caltrain has scheduled outreach meetings on Friday (Aug. 19) with Friends of Caltrain and Friday (Sept. 2) with the Peninsula Cities Consortium.

A PowerPoint presentation of Caltrain's preliminary findings is available at the Caltrain website.

— Bay City News and Palo Alto Weekly staff

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Note the caveat: "Lee said the test did not consider ... the need to accommodate increased train traffic by lowering crossing gates and blocking street traffic at more than 50 intersections between San Francisco and San Jose."
When you do consider this, you quickly conclude that this blended track approach is a non-starter.

Four tracks along most of the corridor are an absolute necessity. NIMBY's and Tea Baggers get out of the way.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

No.

The idea of having a high-speed train shooting through the middle of Palo Alto and the rest of the peninsula within feet of houses, apartments, cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians is insane.

Move it, put it under ground, better yet - don't do it.


Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm

The minute you're separating 10,000+ students per day from reasonable access to their schools (per city!) you pretty much have a non-starter on your hands. And cutting off emergency services to half of each city 50% or more of the time? That's exactly what you're doing if you think you're running trains per hour without grade separating every single crossing.

LUDICROUS. In other words - this was a NON-STUDY.

This is not happening, and Simitian and Eschoo better get their @sses in gear on getting this nonsense stopped. RIDICULOUS.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Perhaps the study did not mention the need for lowering crossing gates because they expect to use grade separation for these crossings.

I think we should make sure that grade separation is part of the plan before making assumptions. Two tracks without crossings is a very different scenario than two tracks with the present track configuration.


Like this comment
Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Aug 17, 2011 at 11:53 pm

HSR or Caltrain "done right" means grade separation. Period. Grade separation is responsible rail design.


Like this comment
Posted by no!
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:14 am

It will be better done underground.


Like this comment
Posted by no!
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:24 am

Better yet,kill it.


Like this comment
Posted by Larry Cohn
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2011 at 2:14 am

"High-speed rail done right" is like saying "water that isn't wet." HSR will be a multi-billion-dollar money sink no matter what they do with the tracks.


Like this comment
Posted by a real name
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2011 at 4:26 am

with all the qualifiers they have given including the need for an additional 8 miles of passing tracks I would say the basic answer seems to be 'no, the blended solution will not work' in terms of meeting the desired capacity. The reality is Caltrain needs 4 tracks from SF to San Jose regardless of whether or not there will be high speed rail. In the 1920's Southern Pacific already had plans to build 4 tracks and electrify the line from SF to San Jose. That project was killed by the great depression and about 80 years later it's finally time to pick up where it left off. Suppose the 101 was just one lane in each direction with cross traffic and traffic lights every mile or so like it used to be. The same NIMBY's attacking HSR would be lobbying like crazy for more lanes and grade separated freeways and so on. That's of course because the 101 cuts through mostly "other peoples" backyards, such as in East Palo Alto and the less affluent areas of Menlo Park and Palo Alto. It's all just about money. Otherwise I got to say the Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto NIMBY's must have a bias that cars belong in the modern age but energy efficient rail transportation does not. With the 'blended solution' people in those communities will just be spending more time waiting in traffic behind crossing gates dropping down every few minutes. Those original grade separated options will look so much more attractive to everyone year after year into the future.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:37 am

Howard writes:

'Note the caveat: "Lee said the test did not consider ... the need to accommodate increased train traffic by lowering crossing gates and blocking street traffic at more than 50 intersections between San Francisco and San Jose."'

All these grade crossings need to be removed -- regardless of HSR or not. We just had an instance of a train hitting a car a few months ago, and there have been many others over the years. Google "TGV level crossing accident" and follow the various links to see the difference in speed and safety between running on "lignes classiques" and dedicated high-speed lines with no crossings.

I see no reason why CalTrain and HSR cannot share a common corridor that has all grade (level) crossings eliminated and has been upgraded to handle both local commuter (CalTrain) and HSR. HSR works very well in other countries, and, it can here, too.

One thing about the current approach that I don't understand: the current HSR plan seems to demand HSR all the way from the beginning. In France, the TGV trains can run on regular (lignes classiques) at much lower speeds, and, the rollout was incremental. Why does HSR have to run at full speed to downtown SF on day one?







Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:56 am

HSR or no HSR - Caltrain tracks need grade separation. This is benefit to everyone - school children, pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, and the trains.

If you never ride the train your commute around town during rush hour will be easier with grade separation.

I do fear hellish congestion during the construction but this is temporary.


Like this comment
Posted by aw
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2011 at 10:21 am

Why not build HSR on a Bayfront viaduct along the existing PG&E right of way? SJC, Alviso, Moffet, Redwood Shores, Belmont Shores, SFO, Transbay Terminal. Addresses parking, grade separation, land acquisition. Might even catalyze some east-west light rail or other transit on the peninsula.

With smart zoning around the stations it could create a series of beautiful 21st century live/work centers with great transit on the Bay. Much easier than trying to retrofit downtown Mtn View, PA, RWC, Belmont.


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2011 at 10:48 am

So how much money was wasted on this 'duh' study?

The rest of the world has no problem mixing high speed rail with slower commuter trains. Building a separate set of tracks is completely stupid.


Like this comment
Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 18, 2011 at 10:57 am

By Anon: "The idea of having a high-speed train shooting through the middle of Palo Alto and the rest of the peninsula within feet of houses, apartments, cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians is insane."

I just get people like you. You're OK with what we have today — a train going 80mph, at grade level, crossing over intersections near schools, using diesel and loud engines. But you're not OK with a train going 120mph that is completely inaccessible and not at grade level, electric and quieter.

How does that make any sense at all? Oh right, it doesn't.
- Evan, born-and-raised Palo Altan


Like this comment
Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 18, 2011 at 10:59 am

By Aw: "Why not build HSR on a Bayfront viaduct along the existing PG&E right of way? SJC, Alviso, Moffet, Redwood Shores, Belmont Shores, SFO, Transbay Terminal. Addresses parking, grade separation, land acquisition. Might even catalyze some east-west light rail or other transit on the peninsula."

Right, because building a train through an entirely new right-of-way, through wetlands and nature preserves is a great idea. It's not like there's an existing, very straight right-of-way that could easily fit high speed rail nearby — and has stops in downtowns throughout the Peninsula. Oh…wait. There is.


Like this comment
Posted by bet
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 18, 2011 at 11:08 am

you bet there is.


Like this comment
Posted by stanhutchings
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2011 at 11:14 am

HSR is not a 21st Century solution. Rather, High Speed Internet allowing video communication among family, friends, shops, schools, doctors, etc. plus autonomous "highly efficient smart cars" and "smart roads" that can transport even non-drivers (the young, disabled and the elderly)when they need transportation has much more promise. Stanford, MIT, DARPA and others are developing the transport technology while our Silicon Valley companies are developing the communication hardware and software.
The estimated $67 billion would be much better spent on R&D and implementation of real 21st Century solutions. However, I believe the billions would be better spent on improving health, education, and safety of Californians.
Nobody I know would currently take a HSR to Sacramento, LA or San Diego, much less the cities in between. However, they drive to and from those same cities frequently - even though air transport would be much faster and for single occupancy, cheaper. They also drive to many other destinations not projected for service: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, Mendicino, Napa/Sonoma, Humbolt/Mt. Shasta - the list goes on.
In my opinion, the cost of construction and projected fares, combined with lack of destinations, kill the HSR. Smart roads and autonomous vehicles would open up most of California to all Californians.
cc: Anna Eshoo, Joe Simitian, Rich Gordon


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2011 at 11:15 am

Killing High Speed Rail would be an important step in the US becoming a second-class nation.


Like this comment
Posted by Read the EIR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2011 at 11:24 am

Evan,

Do your homework. A close read of the EIR makes it very clear that there will never be an HSR stop in Palo Alto and many other Peninsula cities. We'll get the impacts without the benefits.

You correctly point out the obvious. Grade separation would be critically important with the increase of train preemption (and increase in train preemption probably will occur with or without HSR). Current delays to east-west crosstown traffic caused by train preemption already gum up car, pedestrian and bike traffic at East Meadow, Charleston and Churchill. It will only get worse if they increase the number of trains without grade separation. Increase in the number of trains with the related impacts of traffic preemption, noise, and viewsheds (say goodbye to the glorious views of foothills we currently enjoy from most vantage points in town) from HST would be intolerable without BELOW grade separation of the track (tunnel and/or trench).

Above-grade separation would create a ghetto of housing in the shadow of the tracks. It will create a concrete WALL dividing communities--not just Palo Alto, many towns on the Peninsula. This is the kind of stupidity that many communities experienced with the development of freeways thorugh the 50s, 60s and 70s. We should learn from those mistakes of the past. That kind of bad planning is now being undone at great expense all over the country. If HSR is going to be built, build it right so it won't have to be demolished and rebuilt.

In Europe when HSR goes through populated, residential areas, they usually go underground. That is what they should do here. Do it right or not at all.




Like this comment
Posted by again?
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 18, 2011 at 11:30 am

Underground again on the table?


Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

Spending $60 - $70 billion to build a railroad system, and untold billions more to operate a railroad system that has no business plan, and whose forecast for development and ridership have been highly suspect is a recipe for disaster for this state.

The state is raising college tuition, cutting services to the poor, and it's current infrastrucutre is deteriorating. The legislature and state government needs to get it's priorities straight, or the voters need to vote for someone else for the legislature.


Like this comment
Posted by America
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm

This is why I love America. No progress being made what so ever.

Why does Caltrain still use Big Diesel Trains that are loud and polluting, when we might as well use Electricity run trains? People complaining about the 'loudness' of trains, Don't live on Alma or on the other side. Easy easy fix. That is the reason why some properties are cheaper than others. Kids are not blocked off from schools, ie. There is a really nice underpass on Embarcadero Rd. that will take you to PAHS.

Me, being a college student is craving an easy way to get back and forth from school (LA), without needing to either take an 11 hour Greyhound/Amtrak.


Like this comment
Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Salad Tosser Howard wrote:

"Four tracks along most of the corridor are an absolute necessity. NIMBY's and Tea Baggers get out of the way."

I agree that four tracks are a necessity, regardless of one's proximity to the tracks or sexual orientation.


Like this comment
Posted by High Speed from SJose
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm

What is wrong with high speed starting in San Jose to go south and upgrading Caltrains to electricity? The SF politicos want a showcase terminal like Grand Central Station and that is why these duplicate train systems are being studied.
Ten trains per hour, really? No one will ever get across Alma to anywhere West of it! Electric trains along the current corridor to San Jose and then connect with the high speed to bullet your way to all points South.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm

The idea of California or America moving powerfully in the future is a strong image ... but the reality seems to be lately, with our first focus on anything being to pay the right people and give the correct tribute to the idea of privatization that all these visions become the "property" of those who only care how to make the maximum amount of money off whatever it is from the start, and then to see if they can build in ways to suck money out of whatever it is in the future.

This mythology for the Western world that seems to have taken over is about as sensible as trying to dig a big hole in quicksand, you spend a lot of energy and end up in the hole, but after a while you realize your in a hole you did not expect with no energy to get yourself out.

Focusing purely on Palo Alto, the most cool thing would be to have trains that go underground with some number of stations above ground.

Putting the rail underground takes care of human beings getting on tracks and allows aboveground land to be reclaimed for quieter safer uses where it is needed most, ie. near or on Alma, which is a very good artery except for the fact that it is so narrow. It makes Palo Alto better in that it allows better and faster mobility and access to our city alleviating traffic problems and could even add some small parks to local areas.

How nice would it be to be able to go from the California St. areas to the park across Alma for shoppers or people on their lunch break without getting in their cars and adding to smog, traffic and wasting time? Or just to better integrate everything on either side of Alma together ... it would make the city much nice, quieter and easier to get into and out of.

This seems like the right thing to do, so until we can do it right, unless there is another competing idea that is as good, we should not do it at all. We are going to lose the livability of our city if we keep developing bad things for the sake of development. We have already lost most of the foothills area to ugly development.


Like this comment
Posted by plan
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Do not do it.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2011 at 1:52 pm

The thing is that HSR can share the same track as Caltrain as can be attested by similar schemes elsewhere in the world where sharing track has been the norm for eons.

Just because a HSR train can go at high speeds does not necessarily mean that they will go at high speeds on the Peninsula. I imagine that the highest speeds on the Peninsula will be similar to the current baby bullet trains and when the train leaves San Jose that is when it will start being high speed.

The necessity for changing trains is a slow down for those using the train, but if the train varies its speed depending on its locale, then the train is keeping its passengers moving at the optimum speed.


High speed in Europe means that although the trains can travel at very high speeds when they are in rural areas, the trains slow to whatever makes sense when in urban areas. This system works well and with modern signalling and safety measures sharing tracks with slower systems, including those that stop more often, can be done safely.

For those who doubt me, I suggest you do some research on systems elsewhere. I have used trains extensively in Europe over the past few decades and have experienced all this, including commuting on tracks that were being upgraded for use by new electric trains while still using the old deisel service.

The technology exists and is improving all the time. Retaining the present Caltrain system any longer would be the same as using an operator to make a long distance telephone call.


Like this comment
Posted by Barry O'Bama
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Just kill the damn thing.


Like this comment
Posted by aw
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2011 at 8:39 pm

@Evan “there's an existing, very straight right-of-way that could easily fit high speed rail nearby — and has stops in downtowns throughout the Peninsula”

The problem is that HSR doesn’t “easily fit” in the Caltrain RoW. Hwy 101 wasn’t built to run down El Camino for the same reason. CHSRA wants 1000s of parking places adjacent to Peninsula stations – we’re not talking about HSR as a light touch on existing downtowns. It’s a redo.

HSR is a unique opportunity to rethink the whole Bay Area live / work development model. It’s a unique opportunity to make the Central Valley commutable to good jobs in Silicon Valley, LA and Sacramento and to remove ABAG development pressure from the Peninsula. It’s a positive – if we can afford it, and if it doesn’t destroy century old neighborhoods we have on the Peninsula today.

Let’s do the EIR for running an electrified HSR up a Bayshore viaduct before we reject the idea. If we want to see HSR delayed on the Peninsula for a generation, we should stay on the track we’re on. If we want it built in our lifetimes, we should look at creative alternatives that leverage existing transit infrastructure and promote 21st century urban models.


Like this comment
Posted by Walt
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:31 pm

A nearly identical article, maybe the source for this article?, appears on line at sfgate Web Link In that article, there is what is probably a very important apparent quote from Roelof van Ark, chief executive officer of the rail authority, who apparently said "while the results [from the referenced study] are preliminary, they show that it could be possible to build a lower-cost, lower-impact route up the Peninsula as the first phase of the ultimate system." The first phase of the ultimate system. It sounds to me that van Ark sees this is a great possibility to get a stake in the ground on the peninsula now, and build out the much derided elevated system that he and the authority dream about, at a later date.

In other disturbing news, Gov Brown "Jerry Brown calls for high speed rail to move forward" Naturally, there was no statement as to where the billions of funding were coming from.

Read more: Web Link

Have the political contributions from the myriad of 'consultants' currently feeding off the HSR Authority's receipt-less spending binge been tracked to those politicians who defend this pork on rails?


Like this comment
Posted by coooper
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2011 at 11:22 pm

I agree with aw, a serious study should be made of putting HSR out near or even in the bay. If land acquisition costs are factored in, overwater trestles to SF may prove to be cheaper and faster, and with less overall environmental impact.

As far as I can tell, CHSR has never considered alternative options like this.

I would like to see auto trains, which exist on the East Coast, such that I can drive my car from downtown L.A. to my ultimate destination.


Like this comment
Posted by Larry Cohn
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2011 at 1:30 am

Auto trains running up and down the EXISTING Coast Line (the one Amtrak uses) start to make sense and would cost billions and billions less than HSR. There would be savings to the traveler in not having to rent a car at his destination and it would spare him from having to drive through the awful tule fog in the valley. Much of its success would likely depend on how fast the trains could be made to go. It's not the system Rod Diridon and Quentin Kopp dream of with its wildly inflated ridership projections. Oh well.


Like this comment
Posted by notrains
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2011 at 1:46 am

I have not been on a train for 20 years,so stop building it.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2011 at 5:09 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Trains ain't gonna go away. Keep the grand schemes, but in the mean while:
Eliminate all grade crossings.
Electrify.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 19, 2011 at 10:39 am

Take a step back and realize what is happening --- it's a big dance and courtship.

CalTrain has wanted electrical conversion for decades. Can't afford it at all, runs at a deficit. HSR = deep pockets for change to electric.

If CalTrain doesn't convert and receive a huge subsidy from HSF, it will continue its very slow death spiral.


Like this comment
Posted by voter
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 19, 2011 at 10:40 am

KILL HSR!!!


Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I thought that Obama and Gov. Brown are all for proceeding on HSR - complete with the strong likelihood of giving all the business to China - outrageous! Even just that aspect is terrible and should not be permitted.
If someone can get the ear of the Feds and the state of CA, this might be a good time to do that.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Electrification can be free! Just contract with PG&E for horsepower by the hour - PG&E builds everything and supplies motors, and bills per horsepower hour. No public expenditure until the trains run.


Like this comment
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Fiscally imprudent, this project is unwise; it's time to put an end to HSR.


Like this comment
Posted by kay djordjevich
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm

High-speed rail could use Caltrain corridor.

That statement is a little misleading, considering the quote from CEO Roelof van Ark that the “ shared-track plan would be an ‘initial’ step for the bullet-train system, which would eventually call for four tracks and the ability to run 10 to 12 trains per hour.”

How can this shared-track plan win local support?

Beyond the fact that it would only be a temporary solution, I have several questions which are not addressed in any articles I have read about the proposed bullet trains.

1. How are these trains powered? Overhead power lines (to be built) or a third rail, requiring rebuilding of the existing track bed? Can high speed trains actually travel on the existing tracks?

2. Will new tracks have to be in place, and how will the replacement be managed without disrupting Caltrain travel?

3. Once this is settled, regardless of the power source, how will these trains be entirely segregated from pedestrian and auto traffic -- by a wall? or what sort of barrier?

4. Will all train stations be re-built?

5. What about the more than 50 intersections to be constructed, as they say “grade crossings”, which means overpasses or underpasses for automobile and for pedestrian traffic. Would they all be built simultaneously? Or one by one? how long will that take?
How will the traffic disruptions be managed? Will there be overpasses and underpasses constructed to carry 2 tracks? Surely they will be made wide enough to accommodate 4 tracks – since that is the end game. (Businesses and apartments and homes adjacent to the crossings must be badly impacted, or perhaps demolished.)

6. And then there is the final plan -- to run 10 to 12 trains per hour. How many passengers are expected to use these trains? And once they arrive in Los Angeles, how do they get to their final destination? (Shuttle bus? rental cars? helicopters??) Hundreds of them every hour.
Or take it from the other end, how will all those hundreds of Los Angeles-bound commuters get to the San Francisco station, and where will they park--will we have in place a shuttle system for them, feeding from all over Northern California? (Even supposing that there actually are so many potential state-wide commuters out there)

On the Peninsula we are accustomed to being close to the Caltrain tracks, they are threaded through our neighborhoods and cities, which grew up around them. But commuter trains are not the same thing as High-speed trains! Do you imagine that you can add dozens of high speed trains each day, rocketing up and down the Peninsula, through these neighborhoods, traveling across “grade-crossings” which must be made wide enough to accommodate 4 tracks, without disrupting the communities?

Kay Djordjevich,

Menlo Park Resident


Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm

@ Ms. Djordjevich:

By definition HSR is overhead electric, not third rail like BART. According to railroad rules, 79 mph is as fast as trains can go through at grade crossings. So without separating train traffic from all other traffic there is no HSR. The point of the study is that until HSR reaches full ridership, a passing track is all that is needed beyond concepts already discussed by Caltrain. This arrangement would allow some HSR's to use the operating slots of the current Baby Bullets, so initially the train frequency might not even increase.

Construction Staging and funding have always been the biggest hurdles to grade separations for Caltrain, and now HSR could be the way out. As for schedules and specific disruptions, until our neighbors on the Peninsula can find a way to support something instead of being against anything but tunnels, HSR will never have the resources to do sufficiently detailed design to answer those questions.


Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Let's use these and future funds to research and implement beaming people from place to place. Star Trek showed us the way.

No noise, no encroachment on our communities nor pollution.

And it has a much better chance of working out than the high speed rail project.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

HSR aside, th3e existing service, both freight and passenger and commute must be improved. Grade crossings can be eliminated the Simitian way, just outlaw them. Then let the cities find alternatives. Electrification can be had at NO COST, just by having PG&E build and own the works and locomotives and sell horsepower hours.


Like this comment
Posted by NONIMBYS
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 26, 2011 at 11:55 pm

As usual the lame loudmouth selfish pigs that live in Palo Alto and Menlo Park actually act and think that they have the answer for the rest of the state ..
Rmember idiots you bought property on a railroad line I thought you were the smartest people in the world??? Guess not dumb dumbs... I suggest you pack your little bags and your tacky little prop 13 homes and move.. cheapskates


Like this comment
Posted by Herb Borock
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm

On July 7, 2011, the Republican leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced a new six-year transportation reauthorization proposal that streamlines and reforms federal programs, and expedites the project approval process.

In the section "Streamlining Project Delivery & Cutting Red Tape", under the heading "Efficient Environmental Reviews", the Committee leadership propoal "Classifies projects in the right-of-way as categorical exclusions under NEPA." NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act that is the Federal version of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

An unintended consequence of the proposal for a blended system for Caltrain and High Speed Rail if the Republicans on the Transportation Committee get their way is that a High Speed Train between San Francisco and San Jose on the Caltrain right-of-way would be exempt from at least federal environmental review.

The entire reauthorization proposal is at: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by milt
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2011 at 9:56 pm

HSR is nothing but pork, period. Notice how the debate isn't whether a not so fast train to no where is really necessary, but how much to spend building it. I have yet to read any report lamenting the transportation options between LA and SF, which is supposed to be the whole purpose for the ridiculous train in the first place. I've read lots of speculation, and laughable ridership estimates that HSR still clings to, however. At this point, it seems to be clear that various labor unions in the state are the biggest supporters of the HSR system, salivating over the possibility of grabbing some of the billions that will need to be throw at this disaster on rails. Take a look at this article posted at californiawatch.org, Web Link concerning the escalating costs of HSR. Down in the comments that follow that article, the third comment makes some interesting points about exactly who is supporting HSR at this point. Transportation experts?, communities along the proposed route?, train buffs, no, organized labor. Have a look at the linked video where organized labor does its best to keep the tax dollars flowing freely. Web Link

Concerning the 'blended' system, if Simitian, Gordon and Eshoo support this option without separated crossings everywhere on the Peninsula, they have effectively thrown their constituents on the tracks. If the report does not specifically stipulate separated crossings, chances are they will never be a part of the plan.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

El Camino: Another scheme to increase congestion?
By Douglas Moran | 10 comments | 1,654 views

Post-election reflections -- and sponges
By Diana Diamond | 13 comments | 1,614 views

Couples: Philosophy of Love
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,270 views

Trials of My Grandmother
By Aldis Petriceks | 1 comment | 792 views