caltrain.jpgThree elected officials gathered in Menlo Park this morning to issue a joint statement urging the California High-Speed Rail Authority to integrate the planned train system more closely with Caltrain along the Peninsula.

Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, joined state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and Rep. Anna Eshoo at Caltrain’s Menlo Park station to announce what Simitian called “the first step in a new conversation” between the CHRSA and Caltrain.

“We call upon the High-Speed Rail Authority and our local Caltrain Joint Powers Board to develop plans for a blended system that integrates high-speed rail with a 21st century Caltrain,” Simitian said.

The politicians each spoke about the resistance among residents in numerous Peninsula communities along the high-speed rail project’s San Jose-to-San Francisco segment to various aspects of CHRSA’s proposals for the area, including running trains on an elevated viaduct and installing rails and other infrastructure outside Caltrain’s right of way.

They specifically called on the high-speed rail authority not to pursue elevated rails along the Peninsula.

Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, called Caltrain the “transit spine” of the Peninsula and said that a high-speed rail system that operates separately from the local commuter system would be duplicative and would never earn local support.

Caltrain officials today announced that the agency will start a round of feasibility studies to determine whether plans for an upgraded Caltrain commuter rail system could accommodate high-speed rail operations on the Peninsula.

Proposed modernization improvements to Caltrain include phasing in electrically operated trains and installing new signaling systems.

“Caltrain, CHSRA and Peninsula communities will need to work together to define a planning process that facilitates meaningful dialogue and consideration of an initial HSR service,” Caltrain planning and development executive officer Marian Lee said in a statement.

Chris Cooney, Bay City News

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