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.