Wednesday May 20 – Caltrain board workshop – HSR compatibility and bike space

On Wednesday, May 20, Caltrain is holding an important board workshop to discuss key decisions regarding the electric car purchase.   The discussion will consider important topics:

  • how Caltrain will achieve level boarding
  • how (or whether?) Caltrain platforms will be compatible with High Speed Rail
  • how much space to allocate for bicycles vs. standing room
  • how much (if any) space to provide for bathrooms)

The board workshop will be from 9am to Noon at Caltrain HQ at 1250 San Carlos Avenue in San Carlos. The material will be presented again in the evening at the Citizens’ Advisory Committee at Caltrain HQ at 5:40pm.

If you are very interested in this topic, consider making the time to attend the workshop (a difficult time for people with regular work hours).  If you are interested in the topic and can’t make the board meeting, please come to the CAC meeting in the evening.


At the meeting, hopefully Caltrain will provide new information to help boardmembers – and Caltrain riders - evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of the available options:

1) How much peak hour capacity will Caltrain be able to provide under considered scenario for level boarding, as measured in total passengers per hour, standing and sitting.

2) How would level boarding at 50″ with internal stairs affect dwell time (the time the train is stopped at the station letting passengers on and off), which is a substantial component of trip time?

3) How many Caltrain trains and High Speed Trains per hour will be able to serve Transbay, which is expected to become the highest ridership station on the Caltrain line once it is opened

There are additional considerations that will be important to the overall decisions:4) If there are stations that would deliver level boarding at 25″ in the long term, how would dual height boarding (for 8″ and 25″) be implemented during the transition period?  Does the gradual transition to 25″ platforms impose any additional constraints on construction phasing, operations, or EMU vehicle design?

5) How would would platform compatibility affect options for station design at Millbrae and Diridon, with regard to cost and customer ease of use?

6) How would platform compatibility options affect the eventual blended service – with regard to blended commute service, where a commute passenger between SF and SJ would be able to choose any of 10 trains per hour; with regard to Caltrain as a feeder system to/from High Speed Rail. How would dwell time affect the reliability and schedule quality of the blended system?
7)  Given the costs and impacts to Peninsula commute service, including hundreds of millions of potential costs to the High Speed Rail project, does it make sense for High Speed Rail to look at lower platforms as an option, along the lines of emerging European standards?For riders and stakeholders of Peninsula corridor rail service, the main benefit of Caltrain modernization is increased commute capacity in the short, medium and longterm.   Ridership growth trends are expected to continue, and the region will need continued capacity improvements to keep up with ridership. Other key benefits are schedule quality – even and predictable service without odd time gaps – and reliability –  ability to routinely make connections and recover from incidents.

Hopefully Caltrain provide the board and riders with information about the factors that will shape the longterm value Caltrain and the blended systems, to enable well-informed decisions.