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Fantastic news: Caltrain wants to move to modern light rail

Original post made by Railroader, Atherton: Lloyden Park, on Jan 26, 2007

What fantastic news that Caltrain wants to move from heavy rail to modern light rail type EMU's (Electrical Multiple Units). This may sound esoteric, but the ecological difference is huge as the energy to accelerate heavy rail cars from each station stop is tremendous. With recent track and scheduling upgrades, board member Art Lloyd's promoting of the change could indeed make Caltrain "the model for the country."
For those who might like to help the process, note that the stumbling block is the old Federal Railroad Act -- essentially, passenger trains operating on freight lines must be freight heavy on the assumption of collisions, even though commuter lines don't run freight at the same time.
The rules have needed updating for decades but those in Congress have not been inspired to take it on. A note from a citizen or two could go a long way.
In the meantime, thank you Art Lloyd for speaking out.
Henry Riggs, Callie Lane, Menlo Park

Comments (3)

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Posted by Choo-choo-choose electric
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jan 29, 2007 at 10:12 am

Thanks for the information, Henry. One question:

Would the EMUs be less noisy than the diesel trains that currently chug down the tracks?

I wonder if any of our local representatives are on a transportation committee or subcommittee that deals with this type of topic. Letters of support from voters might be more effective if they were targeted to a senator or congressperson who deals with such issues.

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Posted by Elizabeth Lasensky
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 29, 2007 at 12:29 pm

That is indeed great news! We should all write to our representatives in Congress to change that regulation. In the case of Menlo Park, that would be Anna Eshoo.

The light rail systems in Santa Clara Co. and in San Francisco are both much quieter than the current trains chugging up and down the Peninsula.

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Posted by Menlo Park resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 29, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Every weeknight between 9 and 10 p.m., a freight train passes through Palo Alto, and makes a return trip an hour or so later. I am guessing, but I think it carries fuel for power plants up closer to San Francisco. It can be an engine with just a car or two, or three engines dragging a heavy, heavy 100-car load.

Passenger trains are still running when this train is on the tracks. I don't understand how the current law about the safety of heavier passenger trains would not apply unless the freight trains start running after midnight.

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