Three Bay Area legislators: No to elevated high-speed rail, yes to Caltrain electrification

Caltrain announces feasibility study for integrated HSR

Three Bay Area legislators joined forces today to announce their rejection of elevated tracks as an option for high-speed rail on the Peninsula, and to push for building the project within the existing Caltrain corridor.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto), and Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, issued a joint statement on Monday, April 18, to "set forth some basic parameters for what "high-speed rail done right" looks like in our region."

In essence, their vision of "high-speed rail done right" integrates the project with Caltrain through a combination of electrification and other upgrades.

The statement highlighted criticism of the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) by agencies such as the Bureau of State Audits, the Office of the Inspector General, and even the authority's peer review group.

"Frankly, a great many of our constituents are convinced that the High-Speed Rail Authority has already wandered so far afield that it is too late for a successful course correction," the statement said. "We hope the Authority can prove otherwise."

In conjunction with the joint statement, Caltrain announced preparation of a feasibility study to evaluate whether electrification and other upgrades can help the system accommodate high-speed rail. Additional studies will analyze ridership projections, service plans, cost estimates, and environmental impacts, with a draft of the results released by late 2012.

The struggling transit agency, which is plagued by budget problems, expects the upgrades to produce enough revenue to reduce its operating deficit by 45 percent in eight years, according to a press release.

Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline said he was very pleased with the news. "Looks like we are more aligned with our state and federal representatives today than we have been for a long time."

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Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Great (sarcastically) - we still get trains moving at high speeds 125mph with high noise levels. Unless every single crossing is eliminated we will be contending with continuous ear piercing train horns.
If the crossings are eliminated untold businesses and homes will still be lost and there will be years of dirt, noise and unbelievable traffic disruption. Numerous crossings will be eliminated thus producing major traffic forever on the streets where under/overpasses are made.
And we still get thirty plus foot power poles and lines stretching forever.
Don't forget folks - Gordon, Eshoo and Simitian love their jobs and they love the union support they get - that's the only reason their trying for an alternative plan - union jobs. I'm a lifelong Democrat, but in this case the Dems are screwing us to get their votes.
Typical politicians wasting tax money on a boondoggle that's been shown to be useless with plenty of false figures to get our vote.
Spend the money on our schools and colleges - that will go much further is producing permanent jobs.

Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I totally agree with Bob, and couldn't have said it better. Thanks Bob for taking the time to write a brilliant piece!

Like this comment
Posted by Mojo
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm

This is horrible news. A half hearted attempt to build HSR will only result in fewer riders using the system. California is ready for high speed rail.

Sadly our national leaders have their priorities all mucked up. They prefer to send 2 trillion dollars to places like Afgan-is-spendistan and Iraq-a-huge-bill while at the same time spending billions of dollars providing private security to countries like South Korea and Germany. Why not build High Speed Rail infrastructure here AND build schools and colleges HERE instead of abroad.

By the way... since we are safeguarding SK, they decided to build HSR. Germany already has several thanks in part to the fact that we pay for their military costs.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Amen, Bob!

Like this comment
Posted by No more bonds!
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Looks like they're all on board with fiscal irresponsibility - spending who knows what on actually building HSR, operating it at a loss, and building new power plants and power transmission lines across, and passing the costs onto you and me.

Let's see some integrity and intelligence from those we elect.

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Amen, Mojo!

Like this comment
Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I have posted a video of Senator Simitian making the announcement on YouTube

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Henry Riggs is a registered user.

Hold on guys. This is a good start, and a unified opposition to elevated trains is well beyond what we expected from our leaders. Also note the call to re-write the project based on honest data and sufficient funding (or project abandonment), specifically based on recent audits and analyses.
This boondoggle is a Sacramento chess game and Simitian et al have just made two strong moves - (1) honest accounting to force HSR face the local impact issues, and (2) high speed rail cannot rationally run at grade, so they have raised the stakes for getting it underground. The game is not over. Keep up the pressure, but don't shoot the allies.

Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm

> high speed rail cannot rationally run at grade

Of course it can run at grade, and should, wherever possible. We've been brain-washed into imagining high-speed rail as a sort of maglev futuristic Stilt-a-Rail. One look at Europe and Asia will tell you it doesn't have to be.

Like this comment
Posted by Earl
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm

"high-speed rail done right" wouldn't go up the Peninsula to San Francisco. Only 10% of the Bay Area's population lives in SF. Even less live on the Peninsula. And those percentages will only decrease as the Bay Area spreads east.

HSR in the Bay Area should be centered in Oakland and start with routes to Sacramento, out through the Altamont Pass to the San Joaquin Valley, and south through San Jose. And start other hubs in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The route between the Bay Area and LA is the least important part of part of HSR in California.

Like this comment
Posted by Allen Edwards
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:00 am

It seems obvious that Caltrain and HSR cannot both survive on the same route. Only one will survive so acknowledging that ahead of time is a great idea. It was nuts to think either that HSR would not take any riders form Caltrain or that Caltrain could survive any drop in ridership. It would be dead and we would have HSR running high above the unused (except for freight) tracks below. The issue to be solved with this proposal is how to share HSR and freight. It would seem to me that there just isn't enough freight running along the peninsula that this cannot be solved on one set of tracks.

Is HSR a good idea at all? That is a different question and one that should be answered but this is clearly a needed step in the HSR plans.


Like this comment
Posted by SMVoter
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm

All of you so worried about the HSR and Caltrain.......all of the complaining when it involves a stretch of about two miles.
Meanwhile, there are a few wars waging, a few soldiers getting killed daily, earthquakes, tornadoes and oil spills and a Tea Party with two clowns who like money more than most lawyers.
Why not just continue enjoying insulting one another like you do for a change?

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

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