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Double-tracked = doubly jacked in North County

Rail line improvements aim to increase train traffic usage twofold

On October 24, the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency (known as LOSSAN) made available to the public new information on the plans affecting its 7.6 million annual passengers and the residents in the coastal communities of North County.

In a new agency publication, LOSSAN says the improvements will focus on three main areas of rail transportation in coastal North County — adding Express Lanes on I-5, double-tracking the rail line, and enhancing coastal habitat and coastal access. It will offer “a balanced transportation system to provide travelers with choices for the future while enhancing the quality of life for residents.”

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During the next 20 years, the project will cost approximately $1 billion for improvements along the 60-mile San Diego segment, from the Orange County line to downtown San Diego. Part of the nation’s second-busiest rail corridor, the local project will include double-tracking approximately 30 miles of rail line, replacing aging rail bridges, and enhancing grade separations and crossings.

Currently, about 50 trains use the coastal tracks daily: the Coaster, Sprinter, Metrolink, Amtrak, and freight haulers Union Pacific and BNSF. The plans will double the daily usage, to the chagrin of trackside residents.

Train agencies have been criticized for their engineers’ unnecessary blowing of their horns in the middle of the night; the agencies claim federal guidelines require it. Local communities have looked into either changing the laws or installing “wayside” signal alerts that direct the attention-getting horn sounds only to those near a track’s road crossing.

California’s controversial and court-challenged L.A. to San Francisco high-speed rail project (now known as the “Brown-dogle” or “Jerry Brown’s Crazy Train”) never included a San Diego connection. Any future high-speed rail plans for San Diego would have to be down the I-15 corridor from the Inland Empire and not part of the LOSSAN coastal rail projects.

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On October 24, the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency (known as LOSSAN) made available to the public new information on the plans affecting its 7.6 million annual passengers and the residents in the coastal communities of North County.

In a new agency publication, LOSSAN says the improvements will focus on three main areas of rail transportation in coastal North County — adding Express Lanes on I-5, double-tracking the rail line, and enhancing coastal habitat and coastal access. It will offer “a balanced transportation system to provide travelers with choices for the future while enhancing the quality of life for residents.”

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During the next 20 years, the project will cost approximately $1 billion for improvements along the 60-mile San Diego segment, from the Orange County line to downtown San Diego. Part of the nation’s second-busiest rail corridor, the local project will include double-tracking approximately 30 miles of rail line, replacing aging rail bridges, and enhancing grade separations and crossings.

Currently, about 50 trains use the coastal tracks daily: the Coaster, Sprinter, Metrolink, Amtrak, and freight haulers Union Pacific and BNSF. The plans will double the daily usage, to the chagrin of trackside residents.

Train agencies have been criticized for their engineers’ unnecessary blowing of their horns in the middle of the night; the agencies claim federal guidelines require it. Local communities have looked into either changing the laws or installing “wayside” signal alerts that direct the attention-getting horn sounds only to those near a track’s road crossing.

California’s controversial and court-challenged L.A. to San Francisco high-speed rail project (now known as the “Brown-dogle” or “Jerry Brown’s Crazy Train”) never included a San Diego connection. Any future high-speed rail plans for San Diego would have to be down the I-15 corridor from the Inland Empire and not part of the LOSSAN coastal rail projects.

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Comments

It should be double-tracked all the way to LA from San Diego.

Oct. 27, 2014

Any talk of more double tracking in SD County will bring out the NIMBY's in force. The whole line needs to be double tracked. Wait, you mean that some of the nation's second busiest rail line is only single tracked? Yes, that's true, and not just a small portion of it. A lot of it isn't much different than it was in the 1880's when it was built. But anyone who reads this needs to take notice that this isn't just some little spur track line. It is the second busiest rail line in all the US. Only the Boston-Washington line is busier, and that runs through NYC.

The $ billion quoted will not permit double tracking through Del Mar or up the grade to the Miramar summit. To really redo that stretch will require tunneling through Torrey Pines, and that project would require far more than a "mere" billion bucks.

As to that unnecessary horn blowing at crossings, it is absolutely true that federal regulations demand it. The only way it can be avoided is to have some double-safe crossings installed, and those are very costly. Are they better than the noise? Well, the listener must be the judge.

Passenger rail traffic on the line will just increase as the population grows, and as traffic congestion worsens, and as car operational costs grow. The residents along the line have no prospect of real relief. Their best bet is to campaign for removal of grade-level crossings, quiet crossings, and better equipment. But then, those who live close to the rails are best able to take advantage of rail travel.

Oct. 27, 2014

No, it shouldn't be double-tracked all the way, Mr. Captain of Industry. First reason: having a hundred trains going through the State's most protected reserve, Torrey Pines, is just a bad idea. IT'S PROTECTED. Second, the Coaster is a heavy rail commuter train that only runs from Oceanside to downtown San Diego. To go further south you then have to transfer to the trolley, which is preposterous. The commuter trolley needs to be developed further north and along I-5 such that you can have trains every 5 minutes, not every half hour maybe 10 times a day, like the cumbersome Coaster. And put a heavy rail line there, too. Third, 100 trains along the cliff in Del Mar? What are you thinking? They're sandstone, not granite and they're going the way of all those cliffs. Remember sea level rise? Oh, I forgot. Captains of Industry don't believe that.

Oct. 29, 2015
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