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Lawmaker rips plan for 'blended' rail system

Original post made on May 2, 2011

A Central Valley assemblywoman came out swinging on Friday against a proposal by three Peninsula lawmakers to 'blend' Caltrain with California's proposed high-speed rail, calling the proposal a "Great Train Robbery."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 2, 2011, 11:59 AM

Comments (9)

Posted by MountainViewResident
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2011 at 2:23 pm

State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and state Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park,are attempting to address the concerns that the residents of the Peninsula have expressed in HSR meetings. On the other hand, Cathleen Galgiani, D-Tracy,does not give a flying f___ about the residents of the Peninsula.

Posted by David Bloom
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Except for the short segment taken up by VTA light rail (this might be correctable with a short tunnel for VTA, which is much easier to do for light rail than for commuter rail or high speed rail), the Caltrain right of way through Mountain View is already wide enough for quadruple-tracking.

This could also potentially provide Mountain View with funding for long-needed grade separation of Rengstorff Avenue.

See Web Link

Posted by Spaghetti Freddie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm

MountainViewResident- While that may be true, we do have to at least pretend like we can play nicely with our neighbors. There is a valid point in the criticism of Simitian et al's suggestion. The idea of a high speed rail is fairly incompatible with local commuter service, and Simitian's suggestion(wink, wink) that you can run a train in the middle of the night to satisfy the legal funding requirements is blatantly not cool.

Make no mistake, Simitian, Eshoo, and Gordon have a level of disdain for Tracy pretty much equal to that which you accuse Galgiani of having for us.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Hmmm, why would we need another train from LA to SF? We already have one.

"Los Angeles to San Francisco by Train

The Amtrak Coast Starlight line runs from Los Angeles' Union Station to San Jose or Oakland's Jack London Square but does not go to the city of San Francisco. The trip from LA to Oakland takes a little over 11 hours and costs $52 one way. From San Jose, you can transfer to Caltrain to get to San Francisco or you can take a bus from Oakland."

Spending money like there is no tomorrow makes real good sense.

Posted by NeHi
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm

It is good to see discussion at all levels. Too bad there wasn't more before the election. California was given a choice between a flawed plan or none; so now Ms. Galgiani says we need to build the errors as well as the hits. The time to fix problems is before construction.

Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 2, 2011 at 9:09 pm

The original plan for High Speed Rail, as I understand it, presumed that Caltrain would be upgraded to electric power with improved roadbed and rails and, of course, no more at-grade crossings. Maybe the HSR folks presumed all that would come out of Caltrain's pocket.

As for the speed between San Jose and San Francisco, the same train could and should operate all the way to San Francisco, regardless of its speed along the way. In other words, the Caltrain improvements could also be used by High Speed Rail trains.

In case High Speed Rail missed it, Caltrain's near-miss with a death spiral this year was because San Mateo County decided they could not afford to pay their share of Caltrain's operating expenses. (San Francisco's and Santa Clara's shares are calculated as proportional to San Mateo's share, i.e., their shares would also have been zero.) This problem is almost certain to come back to haunt us next year. Caltrain needs money, folks.

The proposal by Simitian, Eshoo and Gordon, while aimed at paying for capital improvements, not operating revenue, would have the effect of reducing operating costs (electric is cheaper than diesel) and speeding up schedules, and perhaps increasing ridership--all of which would help reduce Caltrain's operating deficit. Finally, if High Speed Rail is using Caltrain's right of way and rails, they should contribute their share of the costs.

Posted by Mark Townend
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2011 at 11:24 am

Not a resident but feel that the dissimilarities of the caltrain vs highspeed services are being overstated. Both run on the same gauge of track and seem likely to be destined to use the same electric supply system. For the tunnel section into the new SF station, shared tracks are already proposed, so there has to be compatibilty with signalling and comms systems. A largely double track arrangement with additional parallel sidings where required to pull off into individual or closely-spaced groups of stations could provide a high capacity and fast system for both services. The only really contentious issue seems to be a reduction in the maximum speed of the HS trains, but the important thing for capacity is reducing the difference in speed on the 2 track sections. China has recently announced a reduction of speeds on some of its proposed HS lines for 'safety' and probably cost reasons. Politically inspired minimum journey times shouldn't be bought at any price and a more viable, faster caltrain could be an important feeder for the HS trains further south.

Posted by Dave Chapman
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Anna Eshoo is moving in the right direction on this one.
We need to find some appropriate way to kill the XNT
(EXtremely Noisy Train), and diverting the funds to
CalTrain is as good a plan as any.

The real question is, of course, "Why is California
spending way over $9 Billion on a choo-choo train?"
If people want to ride on 19th century mass transit,
they can just go to Disneyland.

I hear that they have a very nice train.

Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Isn't CalTrain the 'noisy' train. Not very quiet at all. If I can hear the train passing with all sorts of houses in my way, then CalTrain must be noisy.
If it is possible to BLEND this rail system with HSR, then go for it. So what if the trains will run down the Peninsula slower than orginally planned. At least the HSR will be here. But we would not have to give up half of Alma St. or even Central Expressway. It would be great to Electrify CalTrain. Enough said for now...

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