Town Square

Post a New Topic

Caltrain rethinks relationship with high-speed rail

Original post made on May 18, 2011

A recent decision to start California's high-speed-rail line in Central Valley has prompted Caltrain to reconsider its two-year-old partnership with the agency overseeing the controversial rail project, Caltrain officials said at a Town Hall meeting in Palo Alto Tuesday morning.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 10:09 AM

Comments (15)

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm

How does electrifying Caltrain improve service? What does an electric train do that the current diesel train cannot? Is that worth $1.5 billion?

Like this comment
Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm

@Mike: Fair question. They are quieter, less expensive to operate (fuel-wise) per mile, make the environmentalists happy, and most importantly, shorten commute times since they accelerate faster, allowing shorter travel times between stops.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I live 2 blocks from the tracks, and very rarely even notice the noise from Caltrain. If Caltrain DOES "electrify" the track, will the ticket prices reflect the fact that the operational costs are less expensive? For some reason, I seriously doubt that. And just HOW MUCH less expensive? Would it be like 8% lower, NOT REALLY making it a worthwhile reason to rationalize the project? And is it REALLY worth what appears to be, if I understand the numbers correctly, over $1 billion just to reduce the commute of a small percentage of the working, tax-paying public by what - a minute or two? Doesn't seem to be the wisest choice of how to spend our tax money in ways that serve the general taxpaying public.that would be in the best interest of the taxpaying public. Personally, I have absolutely NO use for a highspeed (or any other kind of transportation) train to ANYWHERE in southern California. We live in the more beautiful area - why would we want to go to a hot, dry, dusty and polluted soCal area? OF COURSE southern Californians want to quickly travel quickly to get to the more beautiful, classy and cultured area of the state - it's called "escaping"!

Like this comment
Posted by Patrick
a resident of Castro City
on May 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm

The biggest advantage of electrifying Caltrains would be to make it more cost effective. The costs for fuel and maintenance of diesel engines is extremely expensive. The last Save Caltrains meeting I attended the Caltrains representative indicated that if the trains were electrified the ticket sales would make up almost 80% of their operating costs vs with Diesel where it is musch less.

Like this comment
Posted by oldabelincoln
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm

The whole idea of high speed rail as it is done in Europe, Japan, and other countries is based on mid-distance population centers with good urban transportation networks at each end to go the last few miles with a taxi, bus, or subway.

None of these criteria are met by the proposed system, which has long distances, long travel times, and a sparse local transit infrastructure, with local travel distances generally too large to walk, with car rentals often cheaper than taxis.

In California, our travel infrastructure is based on car rentals at each end. Until that changes (hah!) we'll need car rental agencies at every HSR stop - unless you really think that someone coming from LA to do business with HP on Page Mill Road is going to get off at Mountain View, take the 52 bus to transfer to the 22 at El Camino and then some bus I'm unfamiliar with (I've only lived here 22 years) to go up Page Mill. Do we want car rental lots to take over MV and PA's downtown? The alternative is parking lots full of taxis, but one war or another, there must be many individual rental cars or taxis at each stop.

HSR needs dense urban infrastructures at each end, and we simply don't have that here. The closest we come is San Francisco, and you probably can guess how long it would take to get from a downtown HSR station to the Presidio complex today.SF is denser that the rest of California, but not dense enough. And it has one of the highest taxi fares in the US.

HSR will work in the Northeast Corridor - Bosto to DC - but not here. It's just not practical for California's situation.

Like this comment
Posted by ben
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Japan has an extensive government and private feeder rail system making it an almost door-to-door system that we do not have – fatal flaw for HSR here. No one should consider the L.A. sprawl as being serviced by high-speed rail or the East Bay region. . (This is not a door-to-door system – more cars traveling even further – more traffic jams.)
See: Web Link
or better yet Google “Map of Tokyo transportation system”
It is crazy and stupid of the pro transit people to think transit will transport people like in Japan.

Like this comment
Posted by BEN
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm


Here it is See: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by BEN
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 18, 2011 at 4:39 pm


See: Web Link
(Web Link)

Like this comment
Posted by ben
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I will again try to post the web link.


Like this comment
Posted by NIMBY
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm

The more I think about the High-Speed boondoggle, the more I think its rails should come no closer to us than I680, from Pleasanton to Martinez, then on north to Sacto. Built on our side of the bay, it's going into an already built-up area that has airports and rail service. Going into the 680 corridor, it will provide great transit and travel opportunities for the areas where our greatest future growth will be, and will be reachable from the northern peninsula and the eastbay via bart. Also, it will be farther from our known major earthquake faults.

Like this comment
Posted by Kid Bosco
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Electrify Caltrain? BAD idea. When the juice fails, a wire goes down, etc., it all stops, right where it's at. With each train individually self-powered, the system is less likely to be brought to a total halt, and trains can can at least proceed to a station.

Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Big
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 19, 2011 at 1:18 am

Electrify Caltrain: Yes, no brainer... but wait until you can get the money from the Feds or state.

HSR: The HSR stations in SF, SJ, MV will connect with BART, Muni, Light Rail, Caltrain, ACE etc. You add the bus lines, taxis, town car service and you will be able to get to any of the major population centers in NorCal.

Like this comment
Posted by David Bloom
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm

@Kid Bosco:

Yes, if the power goes out, trains will be stalled (until they can be moved by a diesel or battery-powered rescue train). But Caltrain diesel locomotives are less reliable than the power grid, so electrification would still lead to a large overall increase in reliability.

Like this comment
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 19, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I think it's great news that Caltrain wants to toss HSR under the bus, I am much in favor of Caltrain and think HSR new to be cancelled.

Like this comment
Posted by Oleg
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 16, 2011 at 11:43 am

It is much more important to make Caltrain corridor a closed system, like BART, so there are no grade crossings and pedestrians can't easily go on the tracks. This should be the highest priority, next the electrifying and only then - HSR.

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

Burger chain Shake Shack to open in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 16 comments | 4,210 views

The Cost of Service
By Aldis Petriceks | 1 comment | 961 views

Couples: When Wrong Admit It; When Right; Shut Up
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 414 views