Sunday, May 01, 2011

Train Robbery or Pragmatism?

Several of our local representatives, Anna Eshoo, Joe Semitian, and Rich Gordon have recently released a joint statement on High Speed Rail and CalTrain. The jist of it is that the CAHSRA should drop plans for building a viaduct through the peninsula, and use the CalTrain right of way as-is, with electrification (which would mean running at conventional train speeds).

There seem to be several points to all this:

  • They are representing their anti-viaduct NIMBY constituents.
  • Get HSR financial support for CalTrain's infrastructure.
  • Combine and improve existing commuter rail systems with true HSR in the Central Valley, to get much improved, if not true HSR service.

Certainly the second and third points appeal to me, if not the first.

I would really be quite happy if the state could string together some sort of system that could get us to LA in less time than driving, sometime in my lifetime, instead of doing nothing while it spins up plans to make the trip faster than flying, someday, maybe...

Anyway, I sneakily feel like if HSR trains began running in the corridor at reduced speed, the right of way could be incrementally upgraded, with grade crossings removed one-by-one with an overpass here and an underpass here, and speeds could be ramped up with careful attention to mitigating noise, and we could covertly get true HSR on the peninsula without ever stirring up a fuss.

The proposal has come under fire from Tracy assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, an author of the HSR bond issue, who characterizes it as a "train robbery" to siphon funds from a statewide project to a local one. I haven't seen this in mainstream media sources, but here it is in the Menlo Park Almanac and the Merced Star.

I don't think this is a very fair complaint since upgrades to the peninsula line were part of the advertised HSR project from the beginning. And presumably parallel improvements to Metrolink would be involved at the other end of the line.

I favor a compromise that means something actually gets done.

4 comments:

Yokota Fritz said...

Once I got over my initial annoyance at Simitian's press conference, I began thinking along your lines -- it'll (hopefully) get things going while removing Peninsula objections and, perhaps eventually, the line will be upgraded to HSR anyway. So it adds another 15 minutes to the trip along with a transfer in San Jose, and I suspect a lot of people will probably end up driving and parking in San Jose anyway. Take it in baby steps.

And you're right: upgrading Caltrain was always part of the deal anyway, and it's certainly faster and less expensive than buying all new right of way to reach S.F.

Unknown said...

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Bay Area Web Developer

kaviya said...

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Bay Area Web Developer

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