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State releases rail plans, calls public meetings for feedback

California’s railroad planners are set to release their long-term plans for the future of rail in the state, including the controversial and costly voter-approved high-speed rail corridor that would run from San Francisco through Orange County but stop short of reaching San Diego.

The California State Rail Plan, a 10 year Caltrans initiative intended to integrate plans for the state’s proposed high-speed rail program with existing and proposed conventional railways in the state, has announced the release of a draft proposal and series of public meetings to present the Plan and gather public input.

A meeting is scheduled in San Diego for February 19 at the Caltrans office located at 4050 Taylor Street in Old Town.

Of particular local significance is a portion of the Plan that would address service along Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route, which originates Downtown at Union Station and runs 350 miles north to San Luis Obispo on California’s central coast. The route is Amtrak’s third-busiest, and generates the nation’s highest ridership outside of the New England region.

In addition to developing a platform for blending proposed high-speed rail development with existing infrastructure, the Plan will form a basis for allocating federal and state funds for intercity rail transportation of both passengers and freight, including monies from the federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, which requires states to develop planning documents and update them every five years.

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California’s railroad planners are set to release their long-term plans for the future of rail in the state, including the controversial and costly voter-approved high-speed rail corridor that would run from San Francisco through Orange County but stop short of reaching San Diego.

The California State Rail Plan, a 10 year Caltrans initiative intended to integrate plans for the state’s proposed high-speed rail program with existing and proposed conventional railways in the state, has announced the release of a draft proposal and series of public meetings to present the Plan and gather public input.

A meeting is scheduled in San Diego for February 19 at the Caltrans office located at 4050 Taylor Street in Old Town.

Of particular local significance is a portion of the Plan that would address service along Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route, which originates Downtown at Union Station and runs 350 miles north to San Luis Obispo on California’s central coast. The route is Amtrak’s third-busiest, and generates the nation’s highest ridership outside of the New England region.

In addition to developing a platform for blending proposed high-speed rail development with existing infrastructure, the Plan will form a basis for allocating federal and state funds for intercity rail transportation of both passengers and freight, including monies from the federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, which requires states to develop planning documents and update them every five years.

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One almost sure source of "feedback" will the residents of Del Mar who want to have the tracks removed from the bluffs there. Those residents of that small, exclusive and costly city have proposed that the tracks be routed inland, or underground, or just removed from their sight. One resident a few years ago said that the entire line to LA, commonly referred to as the LOSSAN corridor, should be shut down, removed, and the land sold. His reasoning was that the trains that run on the line fail to generate a profit. Passenger trains are supposed to be profitable, when operated by public agencies? I thought they were a public service, and the line to LA is very heavily used to move people. Never mind.

It would improve the line if it were removed from the Del Mar bluffs and taken inland and then routed through a tunnel through the hills of Del Mar and again south of Sorrento Valley. That would eliminate the lengthy and curvy part of the line south of Sorrento Valley up to Maramar and down through air station property. Flattening and shortening the line would speed things up greatly. That would be a multi-billion dollar undertaking and isn't going to happen soon. One feature that could come soon is the double-tracking of the line for all or nearly all of its length. At the present time, the line is handling about all the traffic possible due to the limits that many single track portions impose.

Another matter that needs some attention is our eastern rail link, the one that dips into Mexico before re-emerging into the US. Now owned by the Metropolitan transit agency, it has been out of service for most of the past thirty years. One operation attempted to put it back into service a few years ago, but now it is used only for taking freight into and out of TJ and out toward Tecate through San Ysidro. It should be part of some overall plan to have rail service in San Diego County.

Feb. 13, 2013

Passenger rail is a loser .... especially between metro areas. Brown ignored the provisions of prop 1A and issued bonds anyway. There is no private investment, no real ridership estimates, it can never support itself, they have no idea where future funding for construction will come from or how the train will climb over the Tehachpi pass .. Freights do it with many engines and very slowly. To reduce cost the eliminated the tru HSR electrified rail and will be building conventional rail. Freight works, freight is profitable and takes trucks off the freeways.

The rail project that dips into Mexico is a good one, private financing .. as long as it can be absolutely secure, I'm for it ..

Feb. 13, 2013

''Passenger rail is a loser .... especially between metro areas." What does that mean? Money loser? Nobody has been attempting to make a profit on such trains for decades now. They run as a public service. "Loser" because you don't like them? That's your opinion, but many do not share it because the LOSSAN corridor carries more passengers every year.

Don't confuse this HSR plan with upgrades of the LOSSAN corridor. They are quite separate issues. And Caltrans is looking at freight issues along with passenger hauling.

Feb. 14, 2013

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