Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm
The much acclaimed "blended" system of combining both Caltrain and "high-speed rail" on the existing two tracks of the Caltrain corridor is attributed to former Senator Simitian, Congresswoman Eshoo and Assemblyman Gordon.
State Senator Hill now offers legislation that assures funding for electrification and the "blended" two track configuration.
All this is clever, but not clever enough.
1. The anticipated funds will come from legislatively mandated high-speed rail money. It can't be used for non-high-speed rail expenditures like electrifying Caltrain. Nonetheless, it will happen anyway.
2. In order for high-speed rail to meet the legislatively required travel time of 2:40 between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Caltrain corridor would need to include an additional dedicated two tracks (thereby four tracks) to permit the required higher speeds for the high-speed trains. Sharing tracks with Caltrain won't cut it.
3. "Blended" is a sleight-of-hand. It appeases all us Peninsula trouble makers who are happy to have Caltrain electrified and willing to settle for two tracks to be used by both the Caltrain and high-speed trains. That situation -- two tracks -- will exist only as long as there is no more funding for the higher speed second pair of tracks for HSR.
4. The four-tracks plan is not going to go away, regardless of Senator Hill's legislation. The four tracks elevated have always been both the CHSRA and Caltrain intention for as much of the corridor as possible. Initially the plans called for a wall high enough for car traffic to go through at grade level beneath the four tracks. A more economical solution, especially in our mid-Peninsula neck of the woods is the four-track viaduct and that 'solution' remains among the CHSRA intentions.
5. We have been observers of the Governor, Legislature and CHSRA playing fast and loose with legislation for over a decade.
That's not going to stop. We cry "FOUL" and they ignore us. Why? Because they can.
6. No one should doubt that the elevated four-track viaduct concept is not going to go away -- EVER! All that's necessary is enough funding. And when it comes to funding, state or federal, never say never!