News

Caltrain receives $19M grant for safety upgrade

Anna Eshoo: New technology a 'game changer' in railway safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation has given an $18.7 million grant to Caltrain to implement advanced technology for monitoring and controlling train movements. Palo Alto Weekly file photo.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has given an $18.7 million grant to Caltrain to implement advanced technology for monitoring and controlling train movements, according to Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.

The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which owns Caltrain, will use the technology for safety modifications, such as automatically stopping trains to prevent accidents like collisions and derailments.

"I'm glad to see federal funds put towards improving the safety of our local rail systems," Lofgren said in a statement. "This federal grant will benefit millions of residents and many businesses from San Jose to San Francisco."

Eshoo said the new technology, known as positive train control, is a "game changer" in railway safety. The federal grant will be provided under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant Program.

"This is a critical component to the modernization of Caltrain, the spine of our region's transportation system," she said in a statement.

In 2017, Caltrain reported an average weekday ridership of 62,190 people.

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Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Thomas Paine
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 6, 2018 at 1:48 pm

This is great! Now they can run more trains and create total gridlock for the 400,000 people who use at-grade crossings. This is typical Washington thinking; save time for the 60,000 train riders while creating havoc for the people using the crossings.


6 people like this
Posted by peppered
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2018 at 2:55 pm

peppered is a registered user.

@Thomas Paine
Sounds cynical. I'm grateful for the emphasis on safety. More frequent trains would be great in reducing congestion and environmental impact.


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2018 at 3:25 pm

Posted by Thomas Paine, a resident of Green Acres

>> This is great! Now they can run more trains and create total gridlock for the 400,000 people who use at-grade crossings. This is typical Washington thinking; save time for the 60,000 train riders while creating havoc for the people using the crossings.

Somebody approved massive building of office space in Palo Alto and neighboring cities. The gridlock due the trains will be far less than the resulting gridlock if all those people drive SOVs to work here. 800 people on a train is 800 fewer SOV trips on I-280, 101, Oregon/Page Mill, ECR, etc. etc.


56 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2018 at 3:28 pm

"$18.7 million grant to Caltrain to implement advanced technology for monitoring and controlling train movements"

LOL!!!

Caltrain spent & wasted $231 Million on the misguided, mismanaged and ultimately abandoned CBOSS deployment, which was meant to do precisely what the above $18.7 million is meant to do.

The Feds just haven't give Caltrain enough money to waste!


4 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2018 at 11:01 pm

Thomas Paine,

Be careful with your numbers. There are only 30,000 Caltrain users or 1% of the 3,000,000 people living on the Peninsula. Most of those users take two trips per day.

Caltrain has been overselling its effect on traffic congestion by claiming Caltrain takes 30,000 cars off the road, but since most Caltrain riders also own and use cars for a substantial portion of their transportation, each of the 30,000 Caltrain riders only removes a fraction of a car from the road. The fraction is:

Caltrain hours / (Caltrain hours + car hours), or
Caltrain miles / (Caltrain miles + car miles)

The real truth is at any given time the number of cars taken off the road by Caltrain is simply the number of people on the train at that time, which is way less than 30,000.


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2018 at 11:52 pm

Posted by Ahem, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Be careful with your numbers. There are only 30,000 Caltrain users or 1% of the 3,000,000 people living on the Peninsula.

Yes, let us do be careful with our numbers. By this definition: Web Link the population is 943,820. If you meant to include the city of San Francisco also, that would make it 1,828,183.

Now, how many of those people are drivers? I know people who live near Caltrain and take Caltrain and bicycle and walk, don't own cars, and average zero car trips per day.

>> Caltrain has been overselling its effect on traffic congestion by claiming Caltrain takes 30,000 cars off the road, but since most Caltrain riders also own and use cars for a substantial portion of their transportation, each of the 30,000 Caltrain riders only removes a fraction of a car from the road.

I don't understand what point you are trying to make. If someone living in San Bruno takes Caltrain to Palo Alto, that is an entire trip removed, and, an entire car that doesn't have to park in Palo Alto. Just three trains (seated capacity - at rush hour actual is higher due to standing room) deliver as many people as a freeway lane in an hour.

Whether or not the person living in San Bruno goes shopping for groceries in San Bruno after they get home from work is not relevant to the 20 freeway miles that were saved by their train trip to Palo Alto.

Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by jimmae
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2018 at 11:30 am

I enjoy my dozen Caltrain trips per month to visit family in SF.
Not a big techie,so I'll not comment directly on this study.
What I would like to see along on the Caltrain lines is a parallel trail, similar to what exists between Churchill and PA Med Center-Homer ave that runs the entire length of the Caltrain tracks.(yes,all the way from to Gilroy-SF)
Now that Caltrain has installed BIG fencing along the entire length of tracks,to engineer-install a paved -striped path and another BIG fence to still keep walkers-pedalers from getting near the train tracks when using this path would be super.
I believe many people could-would utilize this protected path to go short-long distances that now are safety prohibitive due to busy streets.


7 people like this
Posted by rise above it!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 7, 2018 at 11:34 am

" Now they can run more trains and create total gridlock for the 400,000 people who use at-grade crossings."

Not a problem in San Carlos, Belmont, San Bruno, etc..

Remind me again why PA still has at-grade crossings, when those towns do not? I guess they're just lucky or something. Maybe they're wealthier? Nah...


6 people like this
Posted by ODB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2018 at 3:34 pm

"Remind me again why PA still has at-grade crossings, when those towns do not? I guess they're just lucky or something. Maybe they're wealthier? Nah..."

Because they're not demanding a cross-town tunnel lined with platinum and are not waiting for Elon Musk to finish his design for flying trains?


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Posted by rise above it!, a resident of Adobe-Meadow, on Sep 7, 2018

>> Not a problem in San Carlos, Belmont, San Bruno, etc..

>> Remind me again why PA still has at-grade crossings, when those towns do not? I guess they're just lucky or something. Maybe they're wealthier? Nah...

Undesirable for three reasons:

1) Noise: noise from elevated trains disperses much more effectively than from below grade trains. This doesn't matter so much in most of the San Carlos +- section because most of it has El Camino traffic/commercial on one side and commercial/light industry on the other.

2) Train underpasses represent a pedestrian barrier, especially later in the evening, when there are no businesses or homes nearby. Lack of visible personal security contributes to the wall/barrier effect that raised highways and transit create.

3) Most of the right of way in Palo Alto is residential nearby on one side or both. Noise, privacy, and safety are all issues that are greatly mitigated with a lowered right of way rather than raised.

=> If lowering the train ROW is not affordable, then, I would rather build underpasses for cars/bikes/pedestrians, with serious attention paid to personal security.

Back on the subject of electrification and PTC: Yes, someone apparently royally messed up on the CBOSS program. But, all the same, (a working, affordable) PTC system has huge benefits, not only for safety, but, in safely reducing headway and increasing rush-hour capacity.


Like this comment
Posted by ODB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2018 at 4:55 pm

"If lowering the train ROW is not affordable, then, I would rather build underpasses for cars/bikes/pedestrians"

We've been down this path before. How many residences would be taken under this plan?


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