It was a good discussion, and I came away with the following impressions.
Things that surprised me in a good way:
- Caltrain is finally considering the possibility of level boarding, although no funding has been identified.
- Bryan Dykes, from the Transbay project, was quite supportive of shared platforms and further pointed out that a bigger constraint on capacity comes from the excessively long platform dwell times requested by Caltrain and HSR.
- The escalator pits on all three platforms of the Transbay Transit Center are built to accommodate any platform height.
- Ben Tripousis of the HSR Authority stated that fare collection and security issues were not necessarily show stoppers for shared platforms, and that platforms could conceivably be shared provided they are built to HSR specifications.
- Caltrain has not started the waiver process for CPUC General Order 26-D, although they have acknowledged the potential need to do so.
- Marian Lee of Caltrain stated that Caltrain's reasons for wanting to terminate some trains at 4th and King is to serve certain markets there (presumably in reference to Giants games). I didn't have a chance to question further, but they seem to be missing that every Transbay train would also stop (underground) at 4th and King-- it's not an either-or, it's one or both.
- Caltrain seems eager to roll out the red carpet for any "tenant railroad" that comes calling.
- The three agencies are clearly not communicating enough about this issue to support the important decisions that Caltrain needs to make very shortly for its new vehicle procurement.
- HSR is going with high platforms, period. That particular train has already left the station, and there will be no turning back from the joint procurement with Amtrak. If platforms are to be shared with HSR, they will be high platforms.
- HSR cites as justification for the massive station complex in San Jose that numerous tenant railroads (the "downstairs folks" such as ACE and the Capitol Corridor) plan massive expansion that will need a lot of track and platform space.
- People in the advocacy community are not in agreement on the need for platform sharing. Some believe that Caltrain needs low (~25") platforms more than it needs platform sharing with HSR at Transbay or anywhere else.