A Word About This Site

Important Note: This site is designed to be a one stop shopping place for information relevant to the HSR project, the potential impacts to our communities and how to participate in the process. Since this is an all volunteer effort, a lack of funding relegates us to using the freeby sites. With no perfect fit available, this site is being treated like a hybrid blog/website. Like a blog, it is not stagnant, but like a website, information is categorized. Therefore one should not treat it as a blog by always looking for only the latest entry, yet periodically refer back to older posts for updated information. To make it easier, HSR-PREP has a newsletter designed to be used in conjunction with this site. If you wish to be notified of new information appearing on the site, it is recommended that you sign up for the HSR-PREP Newsletter. Another way is to create an RSS link on your homepage.

Spread the word. Be informed. Get involved.

Spread the word. Be informed. Get involved. If you have any issues at all with the high speed rail project as it exists, if you say and do nothing, it means you agree 100%. We are all busy in our lives. This cannot be used as an excuse later. If you have issues, you must participate in the process or forever hold your peace. Call, email or write your legislators. It takes 15 minutes using their websites. Participate in the public input opportunities with the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA). But don't wait.
Spread the word. Be informed. Get involved.

Caltrain, Union Pacific, and HSR

Caltrain is broke, declaring electrification is the answer for turning a profit. Simply put, electrification will allow trains to run faster, thus increasing capacity, plus electric trains are cheaper to maintain and operate. Just where the money to make the needed upgrades will come from remains a mystery, but it is clear that Caltrain sees HSR as a funding mechanism, assuming HSR has funding. The only other option is the passing of legislation for a direct source of funding by way of a tax of some sort, or other legislation that assures Caltrain receives some of the federal stimulus money if HSR is not ready by 2012. See this discussion on Robert Cruickshank's pro-rail blog for a better understanding of Caltrain's situation and how HSR figures in. For now, Caltrain depends on funding from three counties; SF (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency), SM (San Mateo County Transit District, aka SamTrans) and Santa Clara (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority or VTA), which have all suffered from the recession. Together, the three agencies comprise the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB) which is in charge of running Caltrain.

Clem Tillier discusses in his blog (Caltrain HSR Compatibility Blog) what seems to be the obvious solution if HSR is to be built along the Caltrain corridor, and that is building integrated systems rather than separate systems sharing the same corridor; something the HSRA and Caltrain don't seem to be exploring. Such a system would include shared platform heights and train constrol systems. With two separate systems and only two tracks per system, Caltrain's existing service will be cut back as it will no longer enjoy a third track required for the Baby Bullet to pass slower trains.

May 18, 2010. Read about Caltrain taking a stronger position.

Union Pacific (UP) is having a slightly different discussion and that is an unwillingness to share their right of way (ROW) with HSR. In part, this is one reason why the Program level EIR was ordered de-certified by a judge, because the route the HSRA had chosen between San Jose and Gilroy required building on the UP ROW, and UP was having none of it. Here is a May 11, 2010 article written by Mike Rosenberg for the San Mateo County Times titled "Union Pacific vows to fight high-speed rail" discussing their postering. A letter from Union Pacific to the HSRA dated April 23, 2010. A bit of silliness that perhaps sums up the way UP feels can be found in this video.

Freight versus HSR. Read this June 22, 2010 article from the Economist. America’s system of rail freight is the world’s best. High-speed passenger trains could ruin it.

The Right of Way (ROW). The Caltrain ROW is owned by three counties: San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara, however, San Mateo County paid for it carrying IOU's from the other two counties. I'm not certain of exact numbers, but some I have seen range in cost from $200M to $500M to San Mateo County.

An interesting idea from Charles Voltz of Burlingame in response to the HSRA's suggestion that if towns like Burlingame want tunnels they should pay for them. Charles: "San Mateo County can offer to forgive the debt of the other two counties in exchange for the Joint Powers Board insisting that High Speed Rail apply the current value of that debt to the cost difference between elevated tracks and a covered trench. This, of course, would have to be negotiated between the Joint Powers Board and its prospective tenant, High Speed Rail. There should be room for compromise sooner rather than later since the state estimates that every year of delay boosts the total cost of the project by $1.5 billion."