Statewide High Speed Rail
Plan Getting up to Speed
In This Issue:
No. 2002-1
March-April 2002
by Margaret Okuzumi
Sometimes in the advocacy business,
it's hard to know just how effective you are.
These past several months have shown us
that all our hard work and relationship build-
ing is paying off in numerous ways.
On Caltrain Weekend Shutdown...
We're pleased that Caltrain brought the
weekend shutdown proposal before the
Caltrain Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC),
allowing the public to give input on the mat-
ter early on in the process. Under the CTX
project, Caltrain will be shutting down ser-
vice on weekends for about 22 months, so
that Caltrain can complete the construction
of express tracks to enable the new super
express service to start in the Fall of 2003.
Many people have understandably ex-
pressed concern and outrage over the pros-
pect of no weekend train service for such a
long time. However, the weekend shutdown
was preferred by the CAC as well as by yours
truly, when compared to scenarios that called
for heavy construction on the railroad seven
nights a week.
Caltrain had proposed, as an alterna-
tive to the weekend shutdown, switching the
service to single track starting at 7 PM on
weeknights. This would have made it diffi-
cult for commuters to work late or attend
evening meetings such as our own (see back
page for upcoming BayRail meetings). In ad-
Transbay Terminal Land Transfer
Negotiation Continues......page 2
High Speed Rail Authority Selects
Caltrain Route......page 3
Caltrain Projects a Regional
Priority......page 3
Q&A on High Speed Rail......page 3
Membership Form......page 5
Calendar of Events......page 6
BayRail to VTA: Safety 1st at Stations
Santa Clara County Valley Transpor-
tation Authority (VTA) recently held public
meetings on changes to its plan for Caltrain
improvements within the county. VTA is re-
vising the plan partly due to declining rev-
enue from the Measure A/B sales tax ap-
proved by county voters in 1996. Members
of the public, including BayRail Alliance
members, attended the meetings to provide
feedback on VTA's plan.
In the three meetings, held in Moun-
tain View, San Jose and Morgan Hill in late
January, VTA proposed that the remaining
Measure A/B funds for Caltrain be spent on
new bus facilities and expanded parking at
stations between Palo Alto and Santa Clara.
Because of the Caltrain "Baby Bullet"
project, which requires stations to accom-
modate four tracks, VTA also had to redo or
shelve upgrade plans for some stations. VTA
had planned pedestrian underpasses and
[See
VTA
, page 4]
platform improvements with room for only
two tracks. "[VTA is trying] the best to sort
it through," VTA staff Jim Lightbody said in
regards to making its plan compatible with
other Caltrain plans, including electrification.
Between San Jose and Gilroy, VTA is
negotiating with Union Pacific, the owner of
the tracks, to allow more service. So far, UP
has allowed VTA to add one additional round
trip between San Jose and Gilroy sometime
this year. In the meantime, VTA has begun
constructing a second track from Tamien
Station to Capitol Station. VTA argues that
this construction is necessary before it can
add more trains to and from Gilroy.
In addition, VTA plans to build out-
side boarding platforms at stations between
Tamien and Gilroy in conjunction with double
tracking--if and when such construction
takes place. On the other hand, the proposed
[See
On The Topic
, page 4]
[See
Getting up to Speed
, page 2]
The plan to link the Bay
Area, Sacramento, and South-
ern California with 220 mph
trains is beginning to see sig-
nificant progress. For the first
time, Governor Davis has
pledged strong support for
the plan.
If built, the proposed
700-mile, $25-33 billion system
would be the largest single
public works project in Cali-
fornia history by three times,
according to Rod Diridon, Sr.,
the recently appointed chair
of the California High Speed Rail Authority
(HSRA) board of directors. Trains would zip
between downtown San Francisco and
downtown Los Angeles in two and a half
hours, offering faster door-to-door trip times
than flying.
Environmental groups, such as the Si-
erra Club, see HSR as a potential alternative
to air travel which would reduce the need for
airport expansion. A shift of many travelers
from air to rail would result in the elimination
of many short distance flights within Cali-
fornia. Advocates argue that this would free
up takeoff and landing slots at airports for
more lucrative longer distance continental
ON THE TOPIC...
From the Executive Director
Flashback to 1993: Rod Diridon, current chair of the
California High Speed Rail Authority, speaking on the
occasion of touring German ICE train stopped in San
Francisco in 1993. (photo: Russell Reagan)
BayRail Alliance
http://www.bayrailalliance.org
Formerly Peninsula Rail 2000