Caltrain and High Speed Rail Authority bringing agreement up to date

In response to strong community pressure, Caltrain is planning to replace the obsolete 2009 Memorandum of Understanding with High Speed Rail describing how Caltrain will work with High Speed Rail in the coming decades.

When Caltrain, High Speed Rail, MTC, and a coalition of funding partners agreed this past year to an “early investment package”, in which Caltrain electrification would be completed to help the area’s commuters and get ready for High Speed Rail, they signed a new Memorandum of Understanding outlining the terms of the investment, including the blended system. And Caltrain’s Joint Powers Board approved a resolution describing its role as the lead agency to plan and implement the blended system, and other protections for local communities.

But the new documents left the old 2009 agreement in place. And the old document is obsolete and wrong in multiple ways:
* it does not define Caltrain as the lead agency for the project, and instead defines an obsolete organizational structure
* it describes the ultimate configuration of the Caltrain corridor as a four-track fully grade-separated system in contradiction to the current blended system approach and in opposition to the strongly expressed desires of local communities
* it describes the design process as occurring “with consideration of the cities on the Peninsula” – a much weaker statement than Caltrain’s later statements that grade separation will occur only with the consent of the city whose streets are being grade-separated.

The High Speed Rail Authority plans to discuss the topic at its December 6 board meeting in Sacramento (see the staff report.)

The High Speed Rail Authority agrees that Caltrain should be the lead agency for Caltrain electrification and electronic signalling, but then wants to be the lead agency for further changes to the corridor such as passing tracks.

Friends of Caltrain is hosting a meeting to learn about these agreements and give Caltrain feedback on how the agreement should be updated. The event will be at the Menlo Park Public Library, 800 Alma Street, Menlo Park CA near the Menlo Park Caltrain station, on Wednesday December 12 at 6:00 pm.

What do you think? How should Caltrain and High Speed Rail work together on the blended system? Come share your thoughts in person, and add your ideas in comments below.