- 4 tracks all the way, from San Jose to San Francisco
- Full grade separation, i.e. no grade crossings
- 125 - 150 mph top speed (far lower than the 220 mph capability of HSR)
- Electrification with a 25,000 volt overhead contact system
What will that look like where you live?
We can try to draw the big picture from the CHSRA's Environmental Impact (EIR/EIS) documents for the Bay Area, published in May 2008. There's lots of detail in the report and appendices.
A map of the peninsula from a 2004 EIR/EIS document (at right) summarizes where the peninsula tracks are planned to run at-grade, in tunnels, or in elevated or sunken sections. The CHSRA also provides a more recent, interactive Google Map. These maps are clearly preliminary, as anyone with detailed local knowledge will attest; they will be fleshed out in the next few years during the detailed engineering phase.
HSR plans call for building most of the new peninsula tracks at ground level, or in elevated / sunken sections as labeled in the above map. Cross sections of these configurations are provided, with the most common shown below.
Ground level 4-track section. Caltrain already has these (minus the overhead wires) in Brisbane, Redwood City and Sunnyvale, to enable Baby Bullet service. The ROW width is about 100 feet, including service access roads used mostly for trimming vegetation. This configuration is labeled A.38 in the map above.
Elevated 4-track section. Where space is available, this can be built on a wide berm. Where space is not available, retaining walls are used as shown in the figure, keeping ROW width to within 75 feet (with external access presumed). Labeled A.39 in the map above.
Sunken 4-track section. The ROW width is within 75 feet (with external access presumed). Labeled A.39 in the map above.
Caltrain has some additional dimensioned cross section drawings in Chapter 2 of their electrification EA/DEIR (see in particular Figure 2.3-3).
At any location, the choice of configuration will depend on a variety of factors:
- Grade separations, where the height of the tracks is constrained by the presence of an under- or overpass
- Available right-of-way width: some configurations consume more space than others, with possible eminent domain impact
- Noise and aesthetics (sunken is preferable on both counts)
- Expense: anything involving lots of earth moving and pouring of concrete will automatically cost lots of money. That is certainly bad for the taxpayer, although the large construction firms that design these projects sure don't seem to mind.