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Rail CEO: Peninsula design not 'predetermined'

Original post made on Aug 30, 2010

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has sent out a letter to Peninsula communities seeking to quash fears that the plans for the proposed high-speed rail line have already been determined.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 30, 2010, 10:25 AM

Comments (17)

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Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Aug 30, 2010 at 11:33 am

I hate these Palo Alto stories that are taken verbatim and not even minimally modified for the readership of the Mountain View Voice. One would assume that the City Council High-Speed Rail Committee refers to the Mountain View City Council HSR Committee and City Hall refers to Mountain View City Hall which is not located on Hamilton Avenue.

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Posted by Margaret who lives N of Central Expy
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 30, 2010 at 2:30 pm

I live very close to the tracks. I do not want the HSR to happen because:
1) I don't think that they're going to run a train through the peninsula at 400mph under any circumstances, and I believe that the trains will run at CalTrain-comparable speeds. Therefore, waste of money for all cities from SF to SJ.

2) They're talking about building the tracks 45 feet int he air, either on some kind of scaffolding or on a 'berm' 45 feet in the air, which I take to mean, essentially a WALL 45 feet high going right down the peninsula. If you think there's a culture difference between people N of El Camino and S of El Camino now, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

3) The talk of moving the Adobe Building in order to make room for PARKING SPACES definitely turns the stomach. We really need to know how much land this plan requires to be taken from owners. We need to know what the real cost is to people, and part of the cost is the displacement, noise, look, and division of the community.

4) I question how many people are going to spend $$ getting to LA in twice the time it takes to fly.

I think it might make sense from SJ to LA, and increase CalTrains from SF if needed. Who in Mountain View is working to stop this plan? CAN I JOIN??

Margaret who lives 4 houses from the tracks.

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Posted by Scott S.
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 30, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I may be missing something obvious, but why not bypass the downtowns along the peninsula altogether by putting the tracks along 280? That way you could still connect San Jose and San Francisco. I suppose this might require switching over at 380 to get to SFO.

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Posted by Ron Chestnut
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 30, 2010 at 4:07 pm

After riding high-speed trains in Japan, France, and Germany, I really don't understand why stops on the peninsula are under consideration at all. Stops make the train slow. And with no stops, high-speed rail on the peninsula has no up-side for peninsula communities.

Build up the existing rail (and bus) infrastructure a bit and let the high-speed stuff start south of San Jose. The right-of-way discussion becomes easier, spacing stops a hundred miles apart becomes politically easy, building it becomes much less expensive, and the benefit with respect to air travel is still there.

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Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm


Don't worry about high-speed rail actually happening. There's simply no money to pay for it.

I don't know why Voice articles cover high-speed rail as if it's something that's really going to happen.

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Posted by Chris Parkinson
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 30, 2010 at 4:22 pm

I'm running up to Sacramento on Wednesday for the public comment on this disaster of public planning. I do not want any competition to urban mass transit. I want the Governor to get off his high horse and give Cal Train the money to electrify. We already spent a fortune upgrading the tracks. If Cal Train electrifies it will meet and or exceed BART's capacities thereby making HSR a moot point in the San Jose to San Fransisco corridor.

Therefore I ask that San Jose not be a second rate city and be a terminus station through Gilroy and the Pacheco Pass tunnel. Same Holds for San Francisco through Oakland and either Hayward through the Altemont Pass or Fremont through historic Niles Canyon.

The San Jose to San Francisco then is a no project in the EIR and end of discussion dividing up our cities with potential 100 foot tall buildings. I have standing to sue and I along with 500 other people will if the HSR proceeds on this foolish tax payer wasting venture. If the San Jose to San Francisco corridor was never on the table originally we would already be breaking ground on this great project.
At this point either do this right or not at all.

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Posted by Chris Parkinson
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Margaret- Join up with me and anyone else like city officials who also see as Palo Alto does the folly of this boondoggle.

Contact me at

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Posted by Jarrett
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm

@ Margaret,

I don't know where you're getting 400mph from. High Speed Trains will reach 220mph in the Central Valley, and run between 110-125 on the Peninsula. Caltrain currently reaches 80mph. Since new Caltrain trains will be compatible with HSR trains, and will share the same overhead wires and grade separations, there is a mutual benefit for local and regional service from this project.

You don't have to worry about the wall anymore; the supplemental Alternatives Analysis carried forward trench and at grade options in Mountain View while eliminating the aerial and the retained fill options.

Remember, the parking discussion existed only because the city was being considered for a HSR station. If the city was chosen and wanted a station, then we would have to examine parking solutions.

As for the time-competitiveness versus air, you must include the time it takes to traverse the security theater, check in and travel to your final destination. With the fuss at the airport added into the equation, the one hour on the plane time can easily balloon into 2 or more hours. Consider the price of fuel as well. Even with the modest fuel price spikes over the summer of 2008, airlines started instituting all sorts of extra fees and charges to cover expensive fuel costs. Since short hop LA-SF flights don't make much money compared to transoceanic and transcontinental flights, they are the first ones to get axed once costs rise.

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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm


I too support your idea of HSR from SJ to LA, and increase CalTrains from SF if needed.

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Posted by Jarrett
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 30, 2010 at 5:06 pm

@Stop in SJ Idea

This doesn't work for a few reasons. First, the ballot requires trains to go from San Francisco (not san jose) to Los Angeles in 2:40. Second, HSR service would lose its time competitiveness and make the service inconvenient with a forced transfer in San Jose. For the passengers that choose to continue, they will overwhelm existing Caltrain service. If Caltrain adds trains to meet the demand, that means they will have to run more express service and local service which means more 4 track right-of-way and more grade separations. After these upgrades the peninsula rail corridor would be mostly grade separated, have long stretches of 4 track mainline and be completely electrified. It would basically be the same as what's proposed with the HSR project except with more inconvenient service.

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Posted by SoLetsSee
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm

So... Lets see... the caltrain express San Jose->San Francisco takes 57 minutes with 4 stops... the HSR would have 2 stops. The trip is roughly 45 miles... at an average of 80mph, caltrain would take about 34 minutes vs 23 minutes for HSR. This includes no time for stops, nor reduction in speeds due to acceleration and deceleration, slower for at-grade crossings, etc. Even with all that, best case, HSR saves 11 minutes compared to the baby bullet. True, HSR has two stops vs four, but those stops would likely take longer since each stop is a regional, long-haul boarding station. The total stop time likely is the same. I, for one do not think it is worth the BILLIONS it will cost for HSR up the peninsula to save 15 minutes. Then consider the fact that it will take me at least 15 minutes to DRIVE to the nearest HSR station or take Caltrain in the OPPOSITE direction to get there, and then hop on HSR to get back to where I started. And even then, I would only recover a fraction of that time because I would not be taking HSR from SFO, but rather from Palo Alto or RWC. Why exactly should I be supporting this? It will not save me any time whatsoever, but will further burden us with BILLIONS in debt payments. Start it in San Jose, or not at all (from someone who lives nowhere near the tracks and would be caught on the 'good' side of the wall anyway). What a waste.

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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2010 at 8:24 pm

USA is a registered user.

"The plan is apparently a hypothetical scenario being used to obtain the federal funding."

I don't where to begin with that one.

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Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 31, 2010 at 7:17 am

Jarrett, why wouldn't there be security theater when boarding high-speed rail, too?

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Posted by Margaret
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 31, 2010 at 3:52 pm

People who agree with me - glad to meet you!

Jarrett - I pulled the 400 miles an hour number out of the air. I disagree with your air vs rail argument. I doubt that the numbers would overwhelm CalTrain.

I think that you could take a bullet from SF to SJ, switch, and get to LA nice and fast. If it's cheaper, like you promise it would be, then all those droves of people you think are going to go for it, will.

It's just that that the benefit of building from SF to LA (compared to SJ to LA) is slight, and the cost of ripping up all the towns from SF to SJ is unimaginably huge. As an abstraction, I like the idea of HSR, but the idea of tearing up all the towns in this way seems unduly expensive. And I live near it so I care about that.

Gotta go to soccer practice!

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Posted by Referee
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Remember, when HSR proponents talks about ridership numbers, they're likely using the estimates that were proven to be falsely inflated.

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Posted by Scott S.
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 1, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Just to pose the question again (it got lost a few screens up), what about HSR shadowing 280 between SJ and SF? If people want to go to one of the intermediate Peninsula towns, they switch to Caltrain.

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Posted by Andrew B
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm

It really seems to me that they are doing this project in the way that is most likely to fail. They ought to be beginning construction *right now* on the leg from LA to SJ. Building it this way means that they could later consider different track options when they get up to here, and if they run out of money perhaps they could at least connect to SJ and we'd have something to show for it. If they manage to get some HSR between SF and SJ and then run out of money, it won't be of much benefit to anybody, and will just make a bunch of people annoyed.

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