Details emerge on blending Caltrain with future high-speed rail 

click to enlarge Caltrain
  • Jeff Chiu/2013 AP File photo
  • The modernization of Caltrain tracks is expected to reduce pollution by 90 percent, the agency says.
By 2019, Peninsula residents will see a much more efficient, quieter and environmentally conscious Caltrain system. That’s what Ben Tripousis, Northern California regional director for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, told local business owners at the Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Forum on Tuesday.

Tripousis highlighted the impact of introducing high-speed rail transportation in California, and revealed what the Peninsula can expect when the system blends with Caltrain’s route from San Jose to San Francisco.

The agencies will ultimately run on two tracks through the Peninsula, with Caltrain operating six commuter trains per hour on its new electric system and the High-Speed Rail Authority running four trains per hour.

Four locations on the Peninsula are being analyzed for passing tracks — two in the mid-Peninsula, one near San Francisco and the fourth near San Jose, Tripousis said.

There will be no elevated tracks on the Peninsula as part of blended system, according to Tripousis.

Caltrain is receiving upgrades as part of its modernization program, a $1.5 billion project paid for in part by the rail authority as well as with local, regional and federal dollars.

Caltrain has started working on its federally mandated advanced signal system, slated to be complete by 2015. It will allow for future increases in ridership.

The trains will also be able to start and stop more quickly, allowing them to run more closely together.

Additionally, electric trains will be much better for the environment than Caltrain’s current diesel system, according to agency officials.

“We should have 90 percent less pollution,” Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn said. “The trains will be quieter, and will be able to stop at more stations.”

Caltrain’s makeover will happen before the bullet trains come to the Peninsula, but having a modern rail system will make it easier for the High-Speed Rail Authority to implement its own trains when the time comes.

Construction on the electrification of the tracks is slated to last three to four years, with the new rail system expected to begin operations in 2019.

High-speed rail officials expect to break ground on construction in Fresno sometime this year, Tripousis said. By 2029, the high-speed trains are anticipated to run from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours.

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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