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Reps: High-speed rail should end in San Jose, link to speedy Caltrain

Original post made on Apr 18, 2011

Saying that government funding for California's High-Speed Rail program will be "severely limited ... for the foreseeable future," local federal and state representatives are calling upon the California High-Speed Rail Authority to essentially end the high-speed rail route from Los Angeles in San Jose and allow an improved Caltrain system to take passengers to San Francisco.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 18, 2011, 12:36 PM

Comments (18)

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Posted by Tired_Activist
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Sounds reasonable to me. Thanks for the report!

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Posted by Bubble_Head
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I learned the term "duplicative."

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Posted by oldabelincoln
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm

A step in the right direction.

I have used high speed rail in Europe, where the density and comparatively short travel times makes for a useful system. There are good public transportation systems to go the last mile or two from the high speed rail stations. It works well.

Here we have low density and longer distances, and inadequate public transportation systems for that last mile. A high speed rail user coming from LA to Silicon Valley will have to rent a car to go the last mile - and he or she will have taken hours longer to get here than by air. Why would anyone want to do use such a system?

Much better to build up the local public transit than have expensive trains that can't compete with airplanes. HSR is just not a good fit for our situation in California.

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Posted by gcoladon
a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

I have always doubted we needed a new set of tracks going up the peninsula. Kudos to Eshoo, Simitian and Gordon for taking a stand on this issue.

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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm

A modernized, electrified Caltrain system will have an immediate positive impact while the planned first leg of the HSR project, a 65-mile section in the Central Valley which would not operate trains until more of the system is built, is a railroad to nowhere. Note that the initial section will not be equipped with maintenance facilities, locomotives, passenger cars or an electrical system necessary to power high-speed trains.

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Posted by Alex M.
a resident of Willowgate
on Apr 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I sure hope that a modernized electrified CalTrain combined with high-speed rail won't be using ground-level tracks like the current CalTrain. Elevated viaducts are preferable, tunnels even more preferable. There are already enough accidents involving CalTrain due to having tracks going through pedestrian and automobile right-of-ways.

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Posted by Ron Chestnut
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm

This seems eminently reasonable. The major disruption of pushing the high-speed line all the way to San Francisco never made any sense to me. Upgrading Caltrain along with great connections at the San Jose end is a great solution to the cost, convenience, and construction issues.

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Posted by GDM
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm

How about these Reps putting some money up to greatly improve Caltrain and also create a permanent source of adequate funding to fully operate the system. It's easy to come up with the proposal, but where is the money?

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Posted by Member
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Where were Eschoo, Simitian and Gordon when the High Speed Rail (HSR) bond measure was voted on? The whole SFO to LA HSR is boondoggle, driven by big political egos in both SF and LA, not by need.

The legacy of the HSR bonds will be the famiiliar CGI animations shown on the broadcast news, perhaps a road to nowhere in the middle of the Central Valley - and debt.

I ride and love Caltrain - the way it is. Make your connections with a bicycle.

If you want 21st century Caltrain, you'll have to wait until the 22nd century. Maybe.

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Posted by Dumas
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm

What are "positive train controls and new rolling stock"?

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Finally some clear thinking on the subject.

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Posted by 4 elevated rails
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm


We need to rip up the path and install 4 rails for a brand new capability.

It will be seamless and no additional noise will be heard.

What a waste of time and funds over the past 3 years of study. The TOD development at the lumber yard depends on this for success also.

What is common sense ?

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Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Déjà vu all over again! For HSR to support Caltrain "electrification, positive train controls and new rolling stock" has been in Caltrain/HSR public plans for years! Below is information circulated *early 2009* by an engineer I know who studies rail systems and has attended JPB (Caltrain board) meetings for many years. This summarizes publicly available information from Caltrain and HSR. Some of it appeared previously in a Feb. 6, 2009 _Voice_ letter.

1. 25 kV overhead catenary electrification for HSR is the same method planned for years anyway to electrify Caltrain. This technology is well established in Europe, Japan, and Northeastern US

2. Caltrain and HSR (separate programs with different charters) have overlapping interests. Sharing existing Caltrain corridor is efficient and minimum-impact (i. e, minimizes eminent-domain acquisitions) from HSR's perspective. And the easiest, best-understood, shovel-ready construction expenditures for HSR consist of Caltrain improvements serving both systems. A likely early expenditure of HSR funds would fill the current funding gap for Caltrain's long-planned electrification, benefitting Caltrain users even years before a full-scale HSR system operates.

3.. Caltrain has spearheaded regulatory updates both for Caltrain's improvements (electrification etc.) and for HSR. Caltrain has
become a lead agency for modernizing Federal rail standards

4. HSR's goal of "fully access controlled and grade-separated" tracks spurs many of the local concerns. But you don't fundamentally even need to resolve those questions until after basic HSR service is demonstrated. That's because HSR trains don't _fundamentally_ need to traverse existing crossings any faster than current trains do. They could begin operation even with today's Caltrain tracks, speed limits, and crossing protocols (at some cost in HSR trip time). Track and crossing improvements then raise HSR capacity (how many trains can run daily) and speed. One improvement is to increase Caltrain's current 4-track segments (HSR's eventual goal has always been to expand the rest of Caltrain's line to 4 tracks). Another is to grade-separate remaining crossings (discussed for years already for Caltrain safety -- without funding prospects, before HSR).

Caltrain uses its two existing four-mile sections of 4-track line (Brisbane, Sunnyvale) for Baby Bullets to pass local trains. If these sections increase in length to the south on both sections, the existing tracks will have capacity for perhaps a dozen or so HSR trains daily (besides full Caltrain service). In the long term, for a higher frequency of HSR trains, and desiring the most safety and scheduling flexibility, it would be ideal to have the entire route from San Francisco to San Jose with four tracks and fully grade separated. However, that may not need to happen for 15 or 20 years at the earliest.

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Posted by Scott S.
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I definitely like the ideas presented. HSR between SJ and LA makes a lot of sense; getting true HSR up to SF doesn't have as good cost-to-benefit ratio.

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Posted by Sabrina
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 19, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I am thrilled to read that my representatives are enacting reasonable dialogue about HSR and Caltrain. Indeed, our cities are designed so much differently than those of Europe that we will definitely need to customize the plan to specifically fit our region(s) to reach a workable compromise, but I truly believe this is necessary for California--and the sooner the better!!

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Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Detailed analysis of the recent developments in the CA high-speed rail blog:

Web Link

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Posted by Margaret near the train tracks
a resident of Willowgate
on Apr 20, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I am so glad to read this article. It has always seemed to me to be a crazily huge expense for all of the cities along the peninsula to have to lay down more tracks. I live near the tracks, and I can tell you that I don't like the idea of:
1) Elevated tracks, which would provide a further dividing line for the cities.
2) Stations needed to imminent domain land from citizens.
3) I'll say it again - the huge expense!!! We already have tracks between San Francisco and San Jose, thank you!

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Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 21, 2011 at 9:40 am

Let's repeal the HSR bond issue and build a great Cal Train. We need to add a few overhead road crossing to cross over the tracks.

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

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