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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

California High-Speed Rail Authority OKs shared-track option study of L.A.-to-Anaheim leg


Yesterday, the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s board voted to move ahead with environmental work on a plan for a high-speed rail system to share tracks with Metrolink and Amtrak trains that run between Los Angeles and Anaheim.

The plan “could allow high-speed rail to operate in the narrow and heavily trafficked corridor with a minimum of disruption to neighborhoods and property owners nearby, potentially saving substantial property acquisition costs,” according to a prepared statement.

Citing “interest from local officials and a change in policy by the Federal Rail[road] Administration,” the board had renewed its investigation of the shared-track alternative. Ultimately, the board voted to approve a Supplemental Alternatives Analysis for the project’s Los Angeles-to-Anaheim section. The analysis had recommended that environmental and preliminary engineering studies continue for both a shared-track system, on which high-speed, commuter and Amtrak trains would travel, and for a dedicated-track system devoted exclusively to high-speed trains.

The shared-track proposal — “still in its early stages,” the board noted — calls for two new tracks to be built and shared among the passenger services in the region (Amtrak, Metrolink and high-speed rail), with trains traveling a maximum speed of 90 mph. Three existing BNSF Railway Co. freight tracks would continue to carry a small number of Metrolink and Amtrak trains. Plans call for up to three high-speed trains through the region per hour, two fewer than projected in the dedicated-track alternative, resulting in a 3.5 percent decrease in projected ridership.

The analysis also calls for continued study of stations in Fullerton and Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs. The analysis also calls for further study of new at-grade train platforms at both Los Angeles Union Station and at the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center.

In other CHSRA news: The board yesterday reelected Chairman Curt Pringle and Vice Chairman Tom Umberg to their respective positions.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/9/2010