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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

CHSRA releases preliminary alternatives analyses, announces plans to study shared-track alternative in L.A.


The California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) announced several developments during the past week.

On April 8, the agency released the preliminary alternative analyses for two sections of its statewide high-speed rail system. The San Francisco-to-San Jose analysis reconfirmed that a four-track, grade-separated alignment that includes a shared corridor with Caltrain is the best option, CHSRA said. By using existing Caltrain right of way, the high-speed system would minimize environmental impacts and increase interconnectivity, the study showed. High-speed trains could operate on the corridor at speeds up to 125 mph and Caltrain trains could operate up to 110 mph.

The analysis recommended that CHSRA continue to study four stations along the route: downtown San Francisco, with a joint terminal solution at the Transbay Transit Center and 4th and King streets; San Francisco Airport, with a connectior station in Millbrae; a potential mid-peninsula station, with facilities in Redwood City, Palo Alto and Mountain View under consideration; and downtown San Jose’s Diridon Station.

An alternative analysis for the Merced-to-Fresno segment showed that following existing Union Pacific Railroad or BNSF Railway Co. corridors would “best serve the purpose and need of the system,” according to CHSRA. However, a hybrid alignment using both UP and BNSF corridors would increase travel times.

The study also recommends that CHSRA further study a downtown Merced station, which would provide the best access to regional highways and public transit.

The results of both alternatives analyses will be discussed with technical and policy working groups in each area in preparation for the draft environmental impact reports.

Meanwhile, the authority voted in favor of further studying a shared-track alternative for the Los Angeles-to-Anaheim segment of the system. A shared-track alternative had been studied early in the environmental review process. Interest in it resurfaced following the $2.25 billion award in federal stimulus funds, and as the authority began working more closely with the Orange County Transportation Authority and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

CHSRA plans to continue studying a dedicated-track option as it works to develop a draft environmental impact report for the Los Angeles-to-Anaheim segment of the system.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/16/2010