High Speed Rail and Caltrain address passing track concerns

At their September Board meeting in San Jose, the High Speed Rail Authority board voted to approve a preferred alternative that does not include passing tracks on the Peninsula Corridor between San Francisco and San Jose.  

As we wrote earlier, this is a cause for concern, because Caltrain’s updated business plan calls for a more regular service pattern and higher service frequency that will require passing tracks at such time as there are High Speed trains.  Adding high speed trains without passing tracks would result in low-quality, bunched Caltrain service. 

So Friends of Caltrain made comments, in person and in writing, urging the High Speed Rail Authority to acknowledge, as it had already acknowledged regarding its preferred alternative for Diridon Station, that it would update its environmental analysis to take into account new information, including Caltrain’s service and plans at the future time that High Speed Rail is getting ready to start service. 

hWe also urged Caltrain to develop corridor management processes that would require HSR to avoid disrupting Caltrain service and bring funding to increase capacity when needed.

Here are the responses of High Speed Rail to the Friends of Caltrain letter, and the response of Caltrain to the High Speed Rail preferred alternative. 

High Speed Rail wrote to Friends of Caltrain acknowledging that additional environmental clearance (and mitigation) will be needed in the future before coming onto the corridor

“Our efforts have taken place concurrently with Caltrain’s development of a business plan to lay out a long-range vision for the corridor and the Diridon Integrated Station Concept Plan (both of which are ongoing). These efforts are important planning work for the future and are still evolving meaningfully. The Authority’s environmental documents will take both of these efforts into account but they will both require separate environmental clearance at the time that they are further developed, finite and stable.” 

Caltrain wrote to High Speed Rail about need for future passing tracks

Caltrain sent a letter to High Speed Rail, to the effect that passing tracks will likely be needed by such time as High Speed Rail provides Peninsula service, and Caltrain will use its ownership of the corridor to negotiate infrastructure and operating agreements that protect high-quality Caltrain service. 

It’s hard to predict what will happen and how soon, as High Speed Rail works to finish construction and start service in the Central Valley and obtain funding to extend beyond its first segment. But it’s good to get these acknowledgements on record.

Thanks to everyone who encouraged actions to address this issue.