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Blending high-speed rail with Caltrain?

Study looks at shared system on 2-track corridor

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, 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" near the middle of the rail line, the existing two-track right-of-way could accommodate up to four high-speed trains and six Caltrain trains per hour, Ms. Lee said.

The analysis supported a concept proposed by Peninsula lawmakers Rep. Anna Eshoo, state Sen. Joe Simitian and Assemblyman Richard Gordon, 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," Sen. Simitian said in a statement.

Ms. Lee was cautious in 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."

Ms. 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.

High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelof van Ark said Wednesday he appreciated Caltrain's study and said the HRA and its transit partners would be evaluating the results in the coming months.

"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," Mr. van Ark said.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Konrad Sosnow
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Blending high-speed rail with Caltrain makes a lot more sense than the California High-Speed Rail Authority plan to build an elevated, separate, noise producing, eyesore, system along the Peninsula. Of course, the feasibility of the High Speed Rail system continues to be in question.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by @Konrad
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm

"Of course, the feasibility of the High Speed Rail system continues to be in question."

Not much question. I think the answer is clear.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I say integrate the bay area transportation system with BART. I would support this idea!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Why would Caltrain, which has enough problems of its own, want to go anywhere near the high-speed rail project, which has nothing but problems.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jusme
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 19, 2011 at 9:01 am

On 'n on we(they) go - this project is so flawed that appeasements
continue to be forthcoming. Now, all of a sudden "perhaps" the
Cal Train tracks can be used in conjunction with HSR. Well, that
would sure eliminate a massive, disruptive construction "project."
This whole HSR idea is slippin' and slidin' from what little support may be remain. Disband the Board, thank them for their "service" and
let's move on to something more viable. Period!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I liken this idea to be like adding fresh strawberries to a blended fruit drink that's already spoiled...you need to start over.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chupacabra
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Just wait til somebody decides to step in front of one of these bad boys.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tina
a resident of Jackson Park
on Aug 23, 2011 at 10:16 am

Sounds like they're having problems buying up people's houses so they can tear them down & put tracks through neighborhoods. Seems easier to use existing tracks. I would think it would be doubtful, with Sacramento's tight budget, for this to be at all likely or feasible in the near future. As a taxpayer, is frustrating that they are continuing to spend money on people's salaries to think about it & do "studies." I would like them to put everything on hold & resume once the budget has enough cash to afford it.


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