01 November 2008

About This Blog

Welcome to the Caltrain - High Speed Rail Compatibility Blog. (what a mouthful, huh.)  The purpose of this blog is to discuss how the California High Speed Rail project will be integrated with Caltrain on the peninsula corridor between San Francisco and San Jose. We often hear that high speed rail (HSR) must be "done right." That sentiment is easy to agree with, until one tries to define what "right" actually is: different stakeholders have vastly different ideas about this.

This blog exists to educate and enlighten the discussion about high speed rail on the peninsula, so that people on all sides of the debate can argue from a position of knowledge. California taxpayers are footing the bill for this megaproject, and it's only appropriate that they be given enough information to intelligently judge the designs that the civil engineering firms are going to come up with. The California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) and its engineering consultants are pursuing an "outreach program," but one can't expect that this program will meet much more than the minimum standards required by federal (NEPA) and California (CEQA) environmental protection laws. In theory, the CHSRA is accountable to the people, but if the people aren't knowledgeable about what is being done, there is no basis upon which to react and hold the agency accountable.

We need information, and a convenient place to discuss it: right here on this blog.

Editorial Stance

This blog generally supports high speed rail on the peninsula. There are a few underlying editorial assumptions that readers should know about.
  • This blog accepts that HSR is a worthy investment. While we will often discuss details of how money is invested, and whether it is being wasted, the fundamental question of whether or not to build high speed rail is not a topic of this blog. For that sort of stuff, please visit the California High Speed Rail Blog and its extensive archive.
  • This blog accepts that HSR will run between San Jose and San Francisco on the Caltrain corridor, as a result of the Pacheco Pass alignment selection.  For many reasons, this alignment selection was likely not the best one, and an Altamont alignment would have been superior even in the narrow context of peninsula rail operations.  The Pacheco vs. Altamont routing continues to be one of the hot-button issues of the HSR debate, and discussion of it is welcome so long as it stays relevant to the peninsula.
  • This blog will often get technical. The nerdy train stuff is actually important in allowing peninsula residents to understand what is and isn't possible. We will try to make such technical topics as accessible as we can. Don't hesitate to use the comment section to ask questions.
  • This blog is tolerant to all view points, including those of so-called NIMBY (not in my back yard) opponents of the project. Everyone of every ideological persuasion benefits from the free and respectful exchange of ideas. Offensive, disrespectful or way-off-topic comments may be deleted at the discretion of the blog administrator.
Blog Inputs

Several people contribute material to this blog and expand its breadth and quality. All of them do so on a volunteer basis, and they are given credit where it is due, in each blog post.

Anonymous tips or contributions are welcomed. You may either post anonymously in the comment section, or contact me directly at clem (at) tillier (dot) net. Anonymity and confidentiality are guaranteed upon request. If preferred, I can meet with you in person.

About the Author

My name is Clem Tillier. I am an interested citizen, taxpayer, and potential user of high speed rail. I am a peninsula resident and frequent Caltrain user. Although I am an engineer with a life-long interest in trains, especially of the high speed variety, I do not work in the rail transport industry. I have no relationship with the CHSRA or any of its engineering consultants, whether personal, professional or financial. I think and write about this topic in my spare time, which explains the occasional hiatus.