SAN CARLOS (KCBS) – A new Caltrain study has found that high speed rail trains may be able to use the existing Caltrain tracks to move up and down the Peninsula.

The study found that the joint-use system would be possible if Caltrain were to get some major upgrades. It calls for the electrification of all trains, upgraded signals and the installation of passing tracks.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

Palo Alto State Senator Joe Simitian said this idea of a blended system is moving the project towards the right track.

“Let’s scale the project back to something that is more affordable and frankly, more practical in terms of building community acceptance up and down the corridor,” he said.

California High Speed Rail Authority spokesperson Rachel Wall said she is optimistic about the “blended” track system.

“It’s important that we have studies like this to give us an initial look at what may be feasible as a gradual introduction of high speed rail (takes place),” she said.

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier said the new attitude is a change for high speed rail officials.

“Initially, the high speed rail folks weren’t real keen on the idea of sharing tracks with Caltrain. They wanted their own line that was going to be able to accommodate up to 10 trains an hour,” he said.

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:

One of the downsides of the blended approach is that fewer bullet trains per hour will be able to run between San Jose and San Francisco.

You can hear Phil Matier’s comments Monday through Friday at 7:50am and 5:50pm on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. ani says:

    I am sorry, but the idea will not work. There are risks of a high speed train being incompatible with the tracks currently used by CAL train. Anyway, who did this study? Didn’t someone clearly see the risks of possible derailment? Why didn’t anybody do their homework? And the other risks is crashes involving automobiles that get caught on the tracks. These thing do happen, especially when the tracks are at street level. The elevated tracks are the best choice so no pedestrians will carelessly wander into a path of an incoming train. Even fencing the areas don’t really work. People were seen climbing the fence to get to the other side. As for the laws to try to keep trespasser out, it is fruitless because people don’t care to follow the law. Also the high speed train has to be inaccessible in any distances in order to get the desired results. Hgh speed trains and existing traffic of automobiles just don’t mix.

  2. Terry says:

    High speed rail is common place throughout Europe, Japan and China. I have used the French TGV trains many times and hope that we will move quickly forward to build our train here in California. Once it is built, we will no longer be forced into our cars for an unpleasant drive to Los Angeles or into a crowded plane to sit on a runway for hours. I suspect that those who oppose this idea have NEVER been on a high-speed train before. Once you experience this modern form of transportation you will be a supporter.

  3. Roderick Llewellyn says:

    I’m a huge supporter of High Speed Rail. Obviously a “blended” system has problems, but it has the advantage of reducing costs and impact to the Peninsula, and allowing service to being more quickly. Frequent high speed service, coupled with more frequent Caltrains, will eventually have auto drivers fuming at frequent cross-gate closings. They will regret having cheaped out. Eventually, however, all grade crossings will be eliminated. Ultimate build-out costs for a four-track system of course will be higher if we start with a blended system.

    That being said, let’s not be under any illusions that approving the blended approach will stop the anti-rail fanatics; if anything, it will energize them. After cutting the system down from four tracks to two, and eliminating the viaduct, they will then whine about the consequences of their own activism: that car drivers now have to wait at crossing gates. These people want to eliminate HSR entirely and many, despite their claims to the contrary, want to destroy Caltrain as well. Their list of objections will be endless. When we deconstruct one anti-rail argument, they will make another; when you disprove that objection, they will return to their first one or find a third. No matter how silly their objections, they will make them as shrilly and loudly as possible. One local paper printed an objection along the lines that “we don’t need HSR because we have the Internet” (however, the writer didn’t offer to give up his automobile). Negotiating with these people is pointless. Mark my words, these fanatics will never rest. Giving in to these do-nothing complainers will result in the death of a thousand cuts, whereby the system has been torqued around so much to satisfy every absurd complaint that it thus becomes impractical. Then the whiners will exclaim: “See! Transit doesn’t work!”

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