There has been an increasing level of freight traffic in the San Joaquin Valley, through the Altamont Pass and Niles Canyon, and along the Coast Line in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. In addition to freight congestion, more frequent train service by both Caltrain and Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor has meant heavy train traffic along the line between Santa Clara and San Jose Diridon Stations. This bottleneck sometimes delays ACE trains.
Officials at ACE are looking at ways to speed up and add more service (ACEForward project), including measures such as…
- Double tracking in key locations.
- Reactivate the county owned track in the Niles Canyon (currently used by Niles Canyon Railway excursion trains) to permit usage by freight trains and free up capacity on the current track for passenger service.
- A dedicated right-of-way for passenger trains, including tunnels through the Altamont Pass.
- Realign ACE service to switch rail route through Tracy and relocate ACE station in Tracy to Downtown Tracy.
After extensive environmental evaluation, ACE chose not to pursue track upgrades through the Niles Canyon due to opposition from Niles Canyon Railway and others to relocate freight train traffic. For the forseeable future ACE would be limited to 4 round trips per day to Silicon Valley. ACE is planning to extend station platforms to serve trains as long as 10 cars to accommodate expected future demands, especially after ACE extensions to Modesto and Sacramento are completed.
ACEforward initiative also considered other elements and service extensions, but the agency is now pursuing these projects as stand alone projects.