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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Proposed 'blended' Caltrain, HSR system could work, LTK study shows


A new study suggests the Peninsula rail corridor could accommodate both high-speed rail (HSR) and Caltrain service by sharing existing track in most areas, a blended option that would minimize impact on local neighborhoods and “considerably” reduce the project’s cost, Caltrain officials announced yesterday.

Based on preliminary data, the analysis supports a concept proposed by U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), California Sen. Joe Simitian and State Assemblyman Richard Gordon, who suggested the project share existing track structure within the Caltrain right of way to save costs and address local concerns about building new track through neighborhoods.

To date, design alternatives for the project have included fully grade-separated, four-track options that span most of the corridor’s length. The new study indicates a “much less intrusive, more cost effective alternative is sufficiently valid to justify additional study,” Caltrain officials said in a prepared statement.

Caltrain hired LTK Engineering Services to assess the corridor’s capacity. Using a computer model to simulate rail operations, the analysis showed that electrification of the corridor and installation of an advanced signaling system could provide enough track capacity to operate six electric Caltrain trains and two HSR trains per hour.

The addition of a seven- to eight-mile section of four tracks near the center of the rail line would provide passing track and expand capacity to accommodate as many as four HSR trains per hour in addition to six Caltrain trains, agency officials said.

“More analysis is needed, but this operational concept could help deliver a state-of-the-art rail system in a way that is cost effective and minimizes community impacts,” said Caltrain Executive Director Mike Scanlon.

During the next few weeks, Caltrain officials plan to solicit public feedback on the study’s findings. The California High Speed Rail Authority is reviewing the study, Caltrain officials said.

“This is the beginning of a process we hope will lead to a positive outcome for both Caltrain and high-speed rail,” said Caltrain Modernization Program Acting Director Marian Lee.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/18/2011