25 September 2019

Risk and Opportunity in Redwood City

Lowe, a major real estate development firm, is preparing to redevelop Redwood City's Sequoia Station, an outdated strip mall adjacent to the Caltrain station, into a 12-acre mixed-use project with towers up to 17 stories tall.  If that is eye-opening to residents of Redwood City, consider that few people yet know that a greatly expanded Redwood City station is the keystone transfer node to enable the growth envisioned in Caltrain's business plan service vision. This new station will require slightly more land than the railroad already owns, and can only be located in Redwood City, the sweet spot that lies halfway between San Francisco and San Jose at the connection point to the Dumbarton rail corridor.

This creates a risk: if a commercial development project is allowed to proceed without respect to the future real estate needs of the railroad, then Caltrain will be constricted and unable to build the optimal infrastructure to support future growth.

Additional Land Needed For Caltrain

Caltrain and Samtrans have extensive land holdings at the Redwood City transit center. Still, just a bit more is needed to build a high-functioning piece of infrastructure, and be could traded for other parcels. Click to expand the map:

Land needed for future expanded station in Redwood City (shaded green)
Design Principles

The absolute worst way to build it.
Existence of this city rendering is
reason enough to be concerned.
To ensure that the Sequoia Station project becomes an exemplar transit-oriented development, rather than relegating Caltrain to the role of development-oriented transit, the rail agency and the developer should agree on some broad design principles.
  • Think Big. Redwood City is one of the few stops on the peninsula rail corridor not surrounded by a sea of low-density single-family housing. Intensive land use and transportation must fit together to achieve a dynamic yet sustainable low-carbon future.
  • Form follows function. No amount of architectural flourish or amenity can make up for a poor station design. Optimize for convenient access, easy transfers between trains and buses, short walks, direct and intuitive routes.
  • Put the station at the center of the action, right over Broadway. Don't shove it to the north, out of the way of the development. The city rendering at right shows precisely what NOT to do.
  • Configure the station as two island platforms to facilitate cross-platform transfers, without time-consuming vertical circulation or platform changes. The Caltrain business plan's staff-recommended service vision relies entirely on these Redwood City cross-platform transfers; every single train that pulls into Redwood City will make a timed transfer to another same-direction train docked at the opposite edge of the same platform. Denoting express tracks as 'F' for Fast and local tracks as 'S' for Slow, the optimal layout is FSSF with two islands, resulting in F-platform-SS-platform-F. Again, the city rendering shows precisely what NOT to do: passengers would not only have to change platforms, but also cross the tracks at grade.
  • Elevate the train station to reconnect the street grid and make the railroad permeable to pedestrians, bikes, and other traffic. A busy four-track station is fundamentally incompatible with at-grade railroad crossings, and the only reasonable way to grade separate at this location is by elevating the entire station. Obstacles to pedestrian circulation such as the Jefferson Avenue underpass would be removed. Once again, the at-grade city rendering shows what NOT to do.
  • Use four-track approaches from the north and the south. Cross-platform transfers are most efficient if trains do not have to arrive and depart sequentially using the same track, which adds about 3 minutes of delay. The best transfer is one where the two same-direction trains can arrive and depart simultaneously on their own separate tracks. Temporal separation is efficiently established by having the local train stop one station away from Redwood City (southbound at San Carlos or northbound at a new Fair Oaks station at Fifth Avenue) at each end of a new four-track segment that will ultimately measure four miles. In this arrangement, the express trains naturally gain on the local trains without a single passenger being delayed at Redwood City.
  • Include turn-back tracks. Preserve room in the right of way north and south of the station for turn back pocket sidings, between the central slow tracks. Dumbarton rail corridor trains may not necessarily "interline" or continue on the peninsula rail corridor, so it's important to give them a convenient place to transfer and turn around without fouling other train traffic on the express tracks (hence FSSF arrangement). Same thing for a possible San Mateo local, which could serve the more densely spaced stops north of Redwood City.
  • Don't be constrained by discrete city blocks. It could make sense to build structures or connect them over and across the tracks, more tightly knitting the station complex into surrounding mixed-use neighborhoods. This has some surmountable safety and liability implications, but buildings on top of busy stations are a common feature of successful cities around the world.
  • Plan for long 400-meter platforms, not Caltrain's standard 700-foot platform length (again as seen in the city rendering of what NOT to do). While statewide high-speed rail plans currently do not include a stop in Redwood City, it is becoming enough of a destination and a regional transportation node that it makes sense to build a station large enough to future-proof it for service by long high-speed trains, regardless of what the California High-Speed Rail Authority might have to say about it.
  • Think ahead about construction sequencing. Redwood City should be grade separated in one project from Whipple to Route 84, including the elevated station, taking advantage of Caltrain's land holdings to minimize the use of temporary tracks. A shoo-fly track would have to be built on Pennsylvania Avenue (within the railroad right of way) to make room for construction of the western two-track viaduct. Trains would begin using the elevated station while a second eastern two-track viaduct is constructed. Pennsylvania Avenue could re-open later, under the new four-track viaduct. Construction sequencing may drive how much extra land is needed for the railroad, so it's important to think it through up front.
If these design principles are respected, the re-development of Sequoia Station will present not a risk but an amazing opportunity to enhance Redwood City by realizing its full potential as the fulcrum of the Caltrain corridor and of a new regional express network reaching across the Dumbarton bridge and beyond.


  1. Agree with all these points, especially the 4-track approaches, Having all locals stop at San Carlos instead of waiting an extra 5 mins at Redwood City would be a big improvement in the moderate growth service plan.

    On the south side, the 5th Avenue station replacing atherton sounds great but there’s not much space there to work with, Maybe a Dumbarton junction infill station makes more sense? Could even terminate the Dumbarton line there instead of Redwood City. It’s a good access points for employer shuttles etc. to 84 and a shorter ride for those transferring to destinations south, which would be most dumbarton commuters today. Lots of space with not much there except tilt-up industrial buildings. Close enough to Fair Oaks neighborhood to still serve residents there.

    1. Dumbarton Junction is less than a mile from downtown, an awkwardly short stop spacing. It is especially awkward for the expresses (“Baby Bullets” in the local patois) which you would definitely want to connect to Dumbarton, in both directions.

    2. Yes, 5th Avenue is much better from a stop spacing point of view, but Dumbarton still still serves the purpose of adding another stop in the 4-track segment, so long as it serves a reasonable number of riders, unlike Atherton.

      Good point about the express trains but concerned about the impact of interlining in RWC has on mainline schedule, especially at the higher service levels proposed in the business plan?

  2. Everyone here already aware but for reference: RWC's Whipple Av study is expected to be completed in 2021, around the time electrification should be getting close to completed and when Caltrain has to start laying down passing tracks. Caltrain is working to make CHSRA Alt B reality.


    Been wondering what exactly how Caltrain would set it up if they did Alt B and the North 4-track, which I think are practically doable over the next decade. With that complete, they can move onto 4-tracking into Mountain View and then San Mateo last. ACE and the CapCor assist with a full 4-track (+1 non-electric freight/Starlight) extension to Salinas.

    1. I think in the short term 4-tracking isn't needed anywhere else than from San Carlos (just north of station, perhaps relocating platforms to Arroyo) to Dumbarton Junction. All the other 4-track segments being contemplated up and down the corridor as part of HSR planning (Alternative B) or Caltrain business plan scenarios are really only necessary after HSR becomes a real thing, i.e. after they punch a tunnel through from the Central Valley. Before then (late 2030s?) Redwood City is the only place where you really need it.

      Caltrain could use that sort of overtake facility tomorrow. The ping-pong limiteds (e.g. 269/273) would become a much more convenient cross-platform overtake.

    2. Here is your tunnel: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/b4e315_73752617ab0d40968cad85be61e25ad8.pdf (slide 8). The ask for Fast is $1.1B for 6 miles (slide 10).
      Merced gets a bus to Gilroy: https://youtu.be/21G6N7t60wI?t=9258

    3. Do you guys agree that the Valley Link DMU was the right call over BART to Livermore?

      This stubby reverse branch to BART seems like a bad idea. This line is already likely to have two reverse branches towards the Bay (ACE to SJ, and Dumbarton to Redwood City) - adding a third will just decimate the frequency on each of those reverse branches too badly.

      Really I think there should be no reverse branches; and all trains through Altamont should proceed through Niles Canyon and over Dumbarton.

      Get from Altamont to SJ by a transfer to BART at Fremont, Capitol Corridor at Newark, or opposite-direction transfer to Caltrain at Redwood City.

    4. Alternatively, just run all VL and ACE trains south to SJ via Caltrain's corridor. If the Dumbarton bridge exists, there's no reason not to. SF VL/ACE riders would have to transfer at Atherton or Menlo Park though, unless a new Shinn Park station is built to facilitate a transfer to BART there.

      Of course this begs the question why does VL exist, but they can also rebuild the 680 line and consume eBART. In which case, it becomes a normal branchline but oriented towards San Jose and not SF. Express trains to Sacramento, and maybe Zephyrs/Starlights, would assume VL's spots on the "ACE" line in the SP ROW/580 median.

      A lot of this is SF's problem. If they continue dragging their heels on the Caltrain DTX and 2nd Tube, everyone will gradually build around them.

  3. Why not? Redwood City is already ruined! There's nothing outdated about Sequoia Station , GREEDY developers are happy to suck the last ounce of charm out of our neighborhood for money, that's all!

    1. Certainly Sequoia Station is not outdated.... that statement is ridiculous.

      In any event, SF Supervisor Peskin is on a tear to take over Caltrain functions in some kind of a new regional transit district. He claims this is needed to attract must have new federal dollars for future development, including the DTX to the Sales Force center.

      More than likely the real reason for his plan is to gain more power over funding and future plans being delivered to SF and at the expense of the Peninsula Cities

    2. The climate is on fire. Housing is so expensive that people either have to live in tents and RVs, or spew more CO2 into the atmosphere as they drive from further away. And the only thing you can think of is preserving the "charm" of a strip mall that is right next to a critically important transit node on the peninsula? Do you realize how out of touch you are? The sense of entitlement that you Bay Area NIMBYs have is shocking. You think you are entitled to dictate everything that happens within miles of your house. NO WAY to anything that offends your sensitivities (and ANY amount of change is sure to offend!)

      Why are you so afraid of change? Does it make you feel insecure? I see that if you are a resident of RWC, you have some amount of power, which you have done nothing to earn, and the idea of more people coming in and diluting that power has you shaking in your boots. The deeply emotional reaction you have posted above is a dead giveaway. You are scared of becoming irrelevant. So you will set the entire earth on fire in order to hold on to the status quo that you so long for.

      You pin the problem on a boogeyman: "GREEDY developers". How will you solve the housing affordability problem without building? Supply and demand is a fact. Do you propose mass genocide? Wouldn't put it past you Bay Area NIMBYs: you got yours, and it's pretty nice, so the rest of the world can just DROP DEAD for all you care. Did I get that right?

      What a snowflake! You think that you, POOR YOU, have already had to put up with enough change in your lifetime, so you're drawing the line here, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Right?

      Get over it. People all over the world have had to deal with changing physical environments, ever since the dawn of history, and before. Throughout the course of history, change is the only constant. Forest becomes farms. Farm becomes town. Town becomes city. City gets bigger. Buildings get taller and closer together. This is the story and history of humanity. Why are you entitled to anything different?

      And especially when that change is in the name of addressing things like climate change and housing affordability, fighting that change puts you squarely on the *wrong side* of history.

      No problems will ever be solved without change. In generations past, they had a word for development: PROGRESS.

      Get. Out. Of. The. Way.

    3. On the list of things that should be preserved in Amber, I think Sequoia Station is nowhere near the top. It’s a parking crater next to a traffic sewer.

    4. to Unknown, why do you have to be so insulting? These are hugely tough issues. I do not agree that Sequoia Station is outdated but I also see that the need for Caltrain improvements is valid. But it's not easy and not just for those who grew up in RWC. It's hard to believe that the dozens of businesses currently in Sequoia Station, and the hundreds employed at the various stores there, are going to have an easy time finding new jobs. And it's hard to believe that 17 story housing is something that is going to beautify RWC; nor do I believe it's going to be that affordable unless it all happened to be Section 8 housing why I would say is highly highly unlikely. It's also hard to disagree with the greedy view when places that have been in business 60 years, just remodeled, face a rent increase of 50% and thus have to close (yes, I'm talking about the Woodside Deli). Isn't there some way to preserve the shopping and the jobs... I know there are no easy answers. But the vitriolic comments here sure don't help.

    5. You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. When what's on the line is the survival of the human species due to climate change, some things like a few businesses that have to relocate, and a few peoples' views - are acceptable collateral damage.

      We could throw this whole project in the dumpster on account of a few cherished businesses in that strip mall, and then the owners decides to close up shop and move to Boise six months later anyway. You wouldn't presume that we should tell these business owners that they are not allowed to relocate as they see fit, would you?

      I don't know what it is, but there's long been a movement afoot to make things that are temporary, permanent. I mean, I get it, familiarity is comforting - so we can make ourselves feel good by trying to block change - but if the homeless encampments all over the Bay Area, and Greta Thunberg's speech at the UN aren't a wake up call, I hate to think what it'll take. Will a lot of people have to find new jobs? Will some peoples' views be disrupted? Heck yeah. But the status quo is long past its sell by date. The day for action was 20 years ago. Every day we delay, the eventual disruption that will be required to dig us out of this mess gets bigger.

      A lot of people are going to have to let go of some things that they're holding on to. It's the only way forward.

    6. @Anonymous: Lowe, the developer proposing to redevelop Sequoia Station envisions keeping the ground-floor retail square footage the same (175k sqft). Safeway & CVS would definitely stay (and stay open) and get new, updated stores fronting El Camino to move into. The other smaller tenants (who all lease from Regency) may or may not stay (or come back, as the case may be).

  4. Breaking News: https://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/news/Denver-RTD-delays-N-Line-open-date--58687

  5. Wouldn't need Dumbarton rail bridge if ACE, Capital Corridor, and BART all connected together in Fremont. Having rail services cross each other without stations/connections is the problem.
    Having them connect in downtown San Jose is an OK eventual solution, but requires BART to get there.

    1. @Reedman: What rubbish! That's just as dumb as saying you wouldn't need the Dumbarton Hwy 84 Bridge if all the highways connected together in Fremont.

  6. Clem, I had someone suggest to me today: RWC Junction as a full six tracks across three island platforms. Two tracks for locals, two for expresses, and two for any Dumbarton or port/future ferry services.

    This same person also seriously suggested Zephyrs go into SF, and preform auto-train service at Middlefield road or Brisbane, although it was in a different context vis-a-vis Trump's attempts to ""fix"" Amtrak as the existing auto-train has Amtrak's highest GPMs.

    Any thoughts?

    1. "The absolute worst way to build it. Existence of this city rendering is reason enough to be concerned."


  7. How Should the New Caltrain be Governed? Some options could include:

    Remain a joint powers authority but with a dedicated source of revenue.

    Become an independent special district. The special district could be designed to raise revenues, have greater control over the use of its own land and have a stronger infrastructure delivery branch. This would work much like a “corridor manager” or historical rail operator in many European countries.

    Merge staff with BART but retain a separate operator and separate board of directors. This is similar to how Capitol Corridor runs and could create significant operational efficiencies.

    Fully merge with BART and Capitol Corridor to create a consolidated Bay Area Rail District. This could create one simple brand for high-capacity, high-frequency rail in the urban core of the Bay Area.


    1. This is exactly what SF Supervisor Peskin has been preaching; statements in the article are what he is preaching at SFCTA board meetings.

      Sure to be screwed by such a new governance will be the Cities along the Peninsula.

    2. @ANON-3 Please identify which of the above options is allegedly being preached by Supervisor Peskin.

    3. Caltrans is by far the best entity capable of running Caltrain. They're the ones with the statewide reach which Caltrain will inevitably expand into.

    4. Caltrans ran Caltrain in the 80 and 90s between when it was still SP's Peninsula Commute Service and the JPB right of way purchase from SP (now UP) and management takeover. They did a pretty crappy job of it, IMO ... but at least they kept it going and came up with the "Caltrain" name, which seems to have stuck (the JPB explored renaming it, but public feedback strongly favored keeping the Caltrain name/brand).

    5. https://www.linkedin.com/in/gillian-gillett-b52b875

  8. Breaking News:

    1) https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/10/01/san-jose-bart-delay-milpitas-berryessa-stations-likely-to-miss-2019-opening/

    2) VTA Board retreats to 3331 North First Street: http://santaclaravta.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=2920

  9. Interesting new presentation from the Diridon station redesign team with a focus on the complications of doing the 280 flyover the Gardner neighborhood prefers.


    They still seem to want to elevate the station for some reason, but now that CAHSR has chosen the blended 3-track alignment through Gardner as their preferred option, hopefully they can come up with a good station design for that case.

  10. The Airport connector will eliminate half of the Caltrain traffic (4 out of 8 trains) through Willow Glen and Gardner.

    1. IF it connects to the Caltrain tracks @ Bowers.

    2. But current plans are for the airport connector to go to Diridon.

    3. Diridon will be the final stop for the 4 trains (for now).

  11. Looking at Lawrence, they have blown the stupid barrier to make room for pole foundations so it looks like these cretins are about to install back to back cantilevers in the middle of the mainline instead of between the mainline and platform tracks!!!!

  12. Breaking News: https://www.sfcta.org/sites/default/files/2019-10/Item%206%20-%20DTX%20Peer%20Review%20Panel%20Report_0.pdf

    1. The elephant in the room is the second Transbay crossing needed for BART. The latest maps I’ve seen steer well south of the DTX area, even at the cost of a longer tunnel. You can’t and shouldn’t do these projects separately if they are solving the same regional connectivity problem. In that respect, the peer review materials seem to fall short.

    2. Final Report:

    3. "12. An appropriate level of granularity is critical. For example, the Expert Panel suggests clarifying the decision requirements needed for selecting platform height(s), including evaluating the impact of choosing a uniform versus dual heights for Caltrain and CHSR (e.g., platform heights may have a significant impact on train seating capacities and operating flexibility), the impact of common versus dual platform heights on operating capacity and reliability, trade-offs on space used for retail vs. for rail operations and customers should be addressed." (PDF page 31)

    4. Here you go:

  13. With regards to "You can’t and shouldn’t do these projects separately if they are solving the same regional connectivity problem", you are 100% correct and this will be addressed later this week:

  14. "I have a cunning plan ...."


  15. HSR Authority: Side-by-side prelim Powerpower point link:


    1. This “qualitative” report confirms what everyone with half a brain already knew: building a stand-alone SF to Gilroy pseudo-HSR island provides very little bang for a lot of buck—unless it is connected to the Central Valley on Day 1.

      The Altamont tunnel must be built first ;-)

    2. Draw a straight line between Gilroy and Burbank and you will stumble across Panoche Pass which does not require ANY tunneling. In the meantime, Gilroy will be ready to collect another 25K passengers/day (assuming 10% mode shift).

    3. why not both?

      At least in my view I'm reading this more as future alterations to San Joaquins services. Newsom already laid out his plans for a "Central Valley Express" service between Sacramento and Bakersfield, which I suspect will be extended to at least Yuba City or Redding as the legislature permits.

      Considering ACE's imminent Sacramento extension and their desire to use the VL/SP ROW, it'd make sense to drop the Oakland part of the SJQs since it'd be duplicative of new ACE service. ACE, which will fully evolve into a regional route, will then be able to run whatever trains they want to SF and San Jose simultaneously.

      And if all the effort is put in to do that, why not put the long-distance routes onto the new track as well? An 8pm Arr Zephyr won't disrupt things, and it gives a measurable gain a national route. Only issue is that they'd have to trade Superliners for new rolling stock, say Lincoln/SJQ-spec Siemens trainsets.

  16. LA Times has just posted the report from Metrolink to CHSRA, detailing its need for funding and pleading for a share of Prop 1A and Cap and Trade HSR dollars.


    1. It sounds like there isn't enough money to have a significant enough impact as compared to the CV.

      Preliminary Findings – Southern California Southern California Corridor Burbank - Anaheim

      The minimum High-Speed Rail infrastructure cost alone in the SoCal Corridor exceeds 1.5 times the remaining unallocated funding available ($4.8 billion) The full regional benefits of the
      High-Speed Rail investment can only be realized with concurrent new regional capital investment in network outside of the Burbank – Anaheim corridor. Incremental ridership benefits will be significantly higher if all connecting services are concurrently improved with
      the Burbank – Anaheim High Speed Rail section

      Peninsula Corridor Study Operating Expenses Versus Revenue Standalone operation San Francisco – Gilroy
      − No substantial ridership impact from incremental High-Speed Rail service
      − High-Speed Rail Operating Expenses significantly exceed fare revenues
      − Electrification Scenario with increased Caltrain service without High-Speed Rail
      captures most of the benefits
      − Significant benefit from High-Speed Rail investment does not materialize until
      connected to Central Valley via Pacheco Pass

      Central Valley Corridor Study Operating Expenses Versus Revenue Standalone operation Merced – Bakersfield
      − Early High-Speed Rail services create significant value
      − Train miles offered more than double
      − Reduction of more than 90 minutes in travel time
      − More efficient cost per mile, improved cost recovery from fare revenues
      − Complemented by planned enhancements to ACE and San Joaquin Lines


    2. Metrolink’s fixation on “ZEV” or Zero Emission Vehicle technology is either visionary or just plain naive. 25 kV overhead electrification is what they will need to be HSR-ready.

      This technology choice is not just about emissions, but other efficiencies: energy efficiency (from not lugging around your energy source everywhere you go) and labor efficiency (from high train performance reducing run times, increasing vehicle-miles per hour of labor and especially passenger-miles per hour of labor).

      If they just want to be Metrolink without the locomotive pollution, they’re not thinking big enough!

    3. Camacho just wants the contracts. However he'll probably be in jail before a decision is made.

  17. https://scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2019/10/09/64980/metrolink-proposes-more-socal-trains-by-diverting/

    Air Talk Radio interview with Ralph Vartabedian and Ara Najarian
    (for Metrolink). Clearly the "money war" between the North and South for funds is red hot. Funding decisions will be made next year by the Legislature.

    1. Gavin "Muddy Waters" Newsom has to stick with the primary objective, LA to SF. Spending money on new Metro ZEVs has more to do with measures like M and nothing to do with measures like Prop 1a.

  18. It was only a matter of time before the Legislature and Gov Newsom would divert funds specific for roads and bridges funded in the voter approved Gas Tax measure SB-1 (2017).



    1. Nope. Just politics as usual.


    2. LA Times also picks up on the "Bait and Switch" of funds from SB-1 from roads and bridges to rail.


    3. Conservative columnist George Skelton ≠ LA Times

  19. Has anyone considered putting the Caltrain station below grade and allowing the developer to build additional towers over the station? Nothing beats commuting like living at the station, and possibly the grade separation could be subsidized by the increased property tax revenue and sales of the station air rights.

    1. For Redwood City, I suspect the additional cost of building a larger (4-track, 2-island platform) underground station would negate whatever additional value capture you may get from allowing additional development on top. With the station underground, you've now precluded the less impactful option of elevated grade seps at the nearby crossings. Generating enough extra to significantly subsidize trenched or underground grade separation costs sounds even more dubious to me.

  20. Replies
    1. So still requiring a cab ride to the strip itself, but perfectly placed for brand new industrial parks. Since it's located immediately under a runway approach, the experience will be comparable to San Bruno and Tanforan down to the c-list homes surrounded by industry.

      What I'm really curious is if they'll terminate the line at the station or try and go through to points north eg Clark gov't center, Fremont Street, Nellis AFB). The only practical way (short of a literal subway) would be to take Dean Martin Dr and splice into UP.

      Side note: as it stands even Searts Point could justify charter service, before the insurance premiums. There's no way Virgin isn't also considering it for Las Vegas. A cab ride to south of the airport is cheaper than a cab ride to the track, which has to be the primary barometer of success XPW is using here.

    2. Video: https://clark.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=17&clip_id=6517 (#80)

    3. Presentation: https://agenda.co.clark.nv.us/sirepub/cache/2/ayoxlegh5bzwzzzuzhkkndvy/80802210202019081653390.PDF

  21. Breaking News: https://bart.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=17&event_id=1628&meta_id=32369

    1. I don't see anything noteworthy. What's breaking about this?

    2. "Placer Sacramento Gateway Plan: Congested Corridor Plan" aka more80choices.com is probably what was meant.

      An interesting facet about that map is: it shows the Feather route to Lincoln as a suggested alternative to the CapCor's existing Donner route to Auburn. Either way it shows that the CCJPA is still interested in serving Placer County and is starting to look at points north of Sacramento... which is notable because existing CCJPA documents call for resurrection of parts of the SN line south of Sac while the SN line north of Sac would cover some of the areas being studied here. It also shows that Placer Co. is still at least considering mass transit.

      Larger than this, suppose the state decides to go forward on a CA public power authority. The best way to do that would be using railroad rights of way, as electric trains (like the ones the CCJPA has stated a desire for) will need a new power grid anyway. The places in the study are all affected by the PG&E fires and shutdowns.... much like how SMART is vis-a-vis Sonoma Co. There are also nearby dams able to provide clean power for such a system.

    3. @Martin: Agenda item V.2 + meeting location

  22. Transit ridership generally down despite spending of billions on systems.


    1. Actually it is doing better this year than last and is trending up for 2019:


    2. We must be reading that differently, I'm reading ridership as basically flat.

  23. Breaking News: https://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=192&clip_id=34345 2:42:15

    1. Stop it. Just stop it. Nobody cares, Roland. That is, nobody cares to discover whatever shit might lie at the end of an impenetrable URL probably pointing to endlessly tiresome video without context.

      If you've something to communicate, do try to use words, as a human being would.
      If not, don't waste the effort cutting and pasting "Breaking News: "

    2. The segment can be conveniently viewed from YouTube at:


      5 minutes, and is from the SFCTA meeting of 10/22/2019 and is essentially announcing a war for control of Caltrain by Supervisor Peskin. If one does a Google search on "Caltrain Governance" you will find a number of articles which I conclude has been a orchestrated campaign by Peskin and SF in general to take over control of Caltrain from SamTrans and the JPB.

    3. Supervisor Peskin has allies down south: https://www.greencaltrain.com/2019/08/the-blue-memo-san-jose-mayor-seeks-funding-leverage-to-force-caltrain-governance-reform/

    4. https://www.sfexaminer.com/news/sf-official-threatens-to-pull-support-for-100-billion-megameasure-over-caltrain-spat/

    5. Will $100 billion transportation mega-measure be put at risk by SF supervisors?


    6. Given the way things are going (or not) for BART and Muni, it's far more likely that Caltrain's and SMART's taxes pass but not the regional measure. People are annoyed at how SF has run things... Caltrain's lack of beggars or filth is something 415 area residents notice and something they REALLY notice when they are transferring from BART or Muni.

      It's all about service quality. People will not approve cash for bad service. Caltrain's experience is deficient compared to the LIRR or NJT but is miles ahead of BART while SMART is itself a cut above Caltrain as it is.

      VTA is in a similar situation. Despite poor utilization Santa Clara Co residents like VTA and want more of it, this informs VTA's decision to fight for a TBM BART subway because they know voters will allow a fight with them.

      And ultimately if there is to be changes to Caltrain, Caltrans is still the better vehicle to do it through not something as parochial as SF.

    7. Lining up the ducks:

      1) 10/19 10.00 AM: https://www.sfcta.org/events/transportation-authority-board-november-19-2019
      2) 10/20 09.30 AM: https://bart.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=7814625&GUID=01DEB806-C059-4FCC-A333-4E6FB1CE5517
      3) 10/21 09.00 AM: http://www.caltrain.com/about/bod/Board_of_Directors_Meeting_Calendar.html
      4) 10/21 05.30 PM: http://www.caltrain.com/Meetings/Local_Policy_Maker_Group_Meeting_s_p6039.html?EventMode=View&EventOccurrence=0

  24. HSR news from abroad:

    China’s Beijing-Shanghai HSR operator's 38% profit margin is higher than Apple, plans stock market listing

    • Plan for IPO shows company that runs 1,300 km (808 mi.)section between two key cities is more profitable than Apple
    • Net profit hits 9.5b yuan (US$1.34b) in first 9 months of 2019, representing a margin of 38%

    China’s railway spending plummets as Beijing struggles to sustain momentum

    China’s spending on railways, a key driver for growth in the last decade, tumbled in August – in part because all major towns are now covered by the country’s extensive railway network.

    China’s economic planning agency said on Wednesday that railway fixed-asset investment was 449.6 billion yuan (US$63 billion) in the first eight months of this year, which marked a modest 2.5 per cent fall from the same period last year.

    However, August alone marked a steep fall of 27.1 per cent compared to the same month in 2018, according to calculations by the South China Morning Post, based on the official data.

    The abrupt fall in railway investment – which is part of a deceleration in China’s overall capital spending – follows a decade-long building spree which has given China two-thirds of the world’s high-speed rail tracks, leaving less room for future development.

    A spokeswoman for the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said that China was on schedule to achieve its whole-year target of 800 billion yuan (US$113 billion) in spending on railways. She added there was now an issue of whether China could find enough new railway projects when existing ones were completed.

  25. Bye-bye Tamien Caltrain parking lot:

    1. Santa Clara is next: https://www.svvoice.com/caltrain-park-ride-lot-to-be-developed-for-mixed-uses/

  26. HSR Oversight Hearing Alert Nov 12 2019 Fresno

    see: https://atrn.assembly.ca.gov/informationaloversighthearings

    Review of the California High-Speed Rail Project

    Tuesday, November 12, 2019, 1:00 p.m.
    California High Speed Rail Authority, Board Room
    1111 H Street, Fresno, California 93721

    At the above link is an extensive background paper and agenda

  27. Organisation vor Elektronik vor Beton: http://santaclaravta.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=3005

    1. Beton vor Elektronik vor Organisation: http://santaclaravta.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Communication.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=3005&MediaPosition=&ID=1133&CssClass=

    2. Gelber Beton:

    3. DISConnected
      "Both the Partner Agencies and the public indicated that a short, direct, and intuitive connection to and from BART was a top priority for the spatial layout. As such, the Concept Layout proposes a direct, at grade connection to the BART station from the primary station hall. The Partner Agencies recognize the potential phasing challenges
      between the two projects, as BART is projected to be in operation before the station and intermodal hub are constructed. GIVEN THAT THE TWO PROJECTS WOULD BE PHYSICALLY SEPARATED, it is assumed there will be no phasing issues."
      https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c38bcfdcc8fedd5ba4ecc1d/t/5dca005526a1a305753ce5f0/1573519485585/2019.11.08_DISC_Layout+Development+Report_FINAL.pdf (page 52)

  28. I spent about fifteen minutes trying to make a left turn onto Broadway last night, where I got to witness the crossing lights malfunction. #380 was headed into a work zone and stopped at a flagman about 30' north of Broadway, before sounding it's horn and moving off. Then the gates rose and the five or six cops (I'm guessing this is a recurring problem) stepped in to prevent pedestrians from crossing. #380 proceeded through the station normally onto Palo Alto.

    Easy to see why RWC wants the crossing gone, pedestrians are easier to corral than four (arguably five) lanes of cars converging on one spot where the tracks are. Also, Arguello is closed on weekends anyway for food trucks so there's already a business argument to just close it all and give people on the northern part of the platforms a more convenient place to eat.

    1. A 4-track grade crossing with 80 feet between the gates. YES, ladies and gentlemen: SamTrans led by a former Mayor of Redwood City (AKA the best CEO in the Bay area) paid millions for this "study"!!!!

  29. * Form follows function. No amount of architectural flourish or amenity can make up for a poor station design. Optimize for convenient access, easy transfers between trains and buses, short walks, direct and intuitive routes.

    In other words, do precisely what Caltrain/BART/Muni/VTA/SamTrans/MTC/etc never ever ever EVER do and never ever once have done in the 30 years I've been watching one self-inflicted catastrophe after another unfold.

    * Put the station at the center of the action, right over Broadway. Don't shove it to the north, out of the way of the development.

    There's pretty much exactly one spot where it can fit, and that's with looooong (440m = 2x150m + turnback crossovers) HSR-compatible, in-station turnback-compatible platforms extending from Brester, straddling Broadway, and ending about where Winslow Street turns to run along the tracks. And even then is it an incredibly tight fit because of the bat-shit insane construction Caltrain has allowed and encouraged right up to the very edge of the already-oncomfortably tight ROW -- or into it, as in San Carlos, ugh.

    The platforms have to be somewhat north of the existing ones -- thanks to the the Box Inc building unhelpfully constructed to the NW of the Jefferson Street crossing, and the new condos diagonally opposite to the SW -- but you're absolutely correct that the more Broadway-central the better.

    * Configure the station as two island platforms to facilitate cross-platform transfers

    Only a total moron would ever even consider anything else. Oh, hello Caltrain and CHSRA! PTG, WSP, HNTB, etc OMFG -- America's Finest Transportation Planners. God help us.

    Anyway, here's about the only way it can fit.
    No way anybody at Caltrain would ever remotely consider anything close to the right thing. It's How We Do Things Around Here. It's The American Way. You Don't Understand All Of The Issues. Trust Us, We're Professionals.

  30. * Elevate the train station to reconnect the street grid and make the railroad permeable to pedestrians, bikes, and other traffic.

    That's the right thing, at every single location along the Caltrain line, except Transbay, Mission Bay and maybe here at Redwood City, where maybe a shallow, open-to-the-sky, no-mezzanine, no-nonsense station in a trench may be the right and only feasible thing.

    It all comes down to whether you ever ever ever ever want Dumbarton service, and in particular if HSR is ever coming to California, which means coming across the Altamont Pass and under the Dumbarton.

    Because if any of those things are ever going to happen, a grade-separated Dumbarton Junction is a requirement, and that just can't work vertically given the constraints:

    * Tracks/platforms have to go over or under city streets from the San Carlos border, over/under Whipple, and all other city streets through Jefferson.
    * Tracks have to go either over or under Maple and Main streets south of the station.
    * Tracks have to go over/under Chestnut Street -- it's possible this could be closed, but what a shitty outcome.
    * Eastbound (eastern size of Caltrain line) Dumbarton track has to go over/under Caltrain mainline to SJ and under/over Woodside Road (Highway 84)
    * Caltrain SJ tracks have to go over/under eastbound Dumbarton and over/under Woodside Road.

    There are three levels of things that need to be stacked where Woodside crosses the Caltrain ROW.

    It's tricky!

    There is about 240m of run between Main and Chestnut.
    There is about 425m of run between Main Street and where the the SJ track and EB Dumbarton need to be clear.
    There is about 500m of run between Main Street and Highway 84.

    If all the tracks burrow under Main, the Dumbarton track can separate from its three friends and start to go a little deeper before Main, while the three other tracks stay as shallow as possible to Chestnut, where the two Caltrain SJ tracks start their rise to clear the deep EB Dumbarton track and then pop back up to the surface just a bit south of Woodside Road. The road overpass stays as is.

    If on the other hand the whole station is elevated -- an otherwise perfectly perfect thing to do -- then all the tracks will be elevated over Main. Then how to get from there to the three levels of grade separated transportation at over/under Woodside?

    Suggestions welcomed. (Realistic suggestions, that is.) Show your work!

    1. "There are three levels of things that need to be stacked where Woodside crosses the Caltrain ROW."

      "It's tricky!"

      "If all the tracks burrow under Main, the Dumbarton track can separate from its three friends and start to go a little deeper before Main, while the three other tracks stay as shallow as possible to Chestnut, where the two Caltrain SJ tracks start their rise to clear the deep EB Dumbarton track and then pop back up to the surface just a bit south of Woodside Road. The road overpass stays as is."

      Contrary: If all the tracks bridge over main, the eastbound (coming western side of Caltrain) Dumbarton track can separate from its three friends and start to climb on a single-track viaduct before Main, while the two central Caltrain to SJ tracks passing over Chestnut and touch down at existing ground level close to where Woodside Road crosses.

      Scenario 1: Big honking tall EB Dumbarton viaduct climbs over elevated Woodside Road, over 50 feet(!!!) in the sky. Woodside Road and its horrible interchanges stay as they are. EB Dumbarton descends, crossing elevated over Middlefield, before eventually diving for the approaches to the Dumbarton Tunnel. WB Dumbarton tucks under Woodside Road before climbing to pass over Middlefield, before descending to tunnel.

      Problem: I can't see how to thread the crazy Port of Redwood City freight lead (the janky single track that runs up the middle of Chestnut Street) into this. WB Dumbarton track will be close to at grade under Woodside Road just where the Port track also wants to be.
      Problem: that's going to be one tall viaduct. Though it's not as if this sort of thing isn't done (this is the Letzigraben rail viaduct in Z├╝rich, which climbs from underground to pass over a road overpass and many many ground-level tracks.)

      Scenario 2: Less honking tall EB viaduct climbs over near-grade-level Caltrain tracks, while Woodside Road is excavated to pass under all the tracks.
      As above, both Dumbarton tracks pass over Middlefield before their pre-Dumbarton drive.

      Problem: Port of Redwood City lead still severed, and hard to reattach.

      Problem: I have no idea if this can work geometrically for the road and its interchange. Since my only interest in urban arterials is blowing them up, I'm going to leave it to somebody else to prove this can or can't be done. The really really good news is that excavating a four-lane road under a rail crossing is one jillionth the excavation of putting over 2.5km of four tracks and platforms below-grade. This would have my vote.

      So, yeah, well. Hmmm.

      Scenario 0: Dumbarton / Caltrain / Woodside / - [below/ground/above/above-above]
      Scenario 1: - / Caltrain / Woodside / Dumbarton
      Scenario 2: Woodside / Caltrain / Dumbarton / -

    2. A 50-foot viaduct is standard currency over at CHSRA (which is just the local transportation industrial complex d.b.a.). They drop them everywhere on the approaches to their Pacheco tunnel as "wildlife crossings." Building a single-track flyover above 84 to Dumbarton eastbound sounds easy-peasy, and really speaks their language.

    3. Hey they even get to build the first 400m to start on the honking tall viaduct while calling it a "turnback track" -- just as America's Finest Transportation Planning Professionals demand. (See: BART "tail track" scams at the end of every line -- built as headstarts on even further and even worse extensions.)

      It's all such a win-win $$$$$$ynergy!

      (Now, how about a $1 billion flyover for the Port of Redwood City -- with maximum 1% grades, of course. A billion not enough? How about two?)

    4. Yeah, Richard you have clearly thought this through.

      Comment 1: Am I reading it correctly that you propose bulldozing the San Carlos TOD roughly east of Holly Street?

      Comment 2: How about just connecting the Port of RWC lead track to the Dumbarton track rather than to the Caltrain main? No need for crazy flyovers. Yes trains would have to access the port switchback-style by running up towards RWC station, then backing onto the Dumbarton track, and then going forward back up the port lead, and this is indeed trickier than the present situation, but then again, such things are perfectly run-of-the-mill in the annals of freight switching on industrial leads like this. How many times does a train servicing the customers out by the port change directions today? What's twice more? Certainly it's not enough difference to cause freight crews' shifts to run long enough that they run afoul of union agreements or labor regulations?

      Comment 3: I also agree with Clem that the "scenario 1" that leaves Woodside as-is and handles the Dumbarton connection with a flyover seems like the winner to me. I get that Bay Area people are NIMBY-snowflakes, but the mostly industrial context by Woodside makes me just shrug. Will anybody actually care if there is a flyover running between the Costco and the Stor-All?

      Comment 4: The Only other idea I have is to have the local tracks cross over to the bay side before RWC: up, over, and back down to ground level again in the space between Howard and Brewster. Of course this would preclude cross platform transfers at RWC - not ideal, of course, as the majority of transfers here would be "same direction" transfers.

      Some time ago I noted that the various tracks of the Chuo/Sobu lines do an interesting dance around each other between Yotsuya, Ochanomizu, and the split to Akihabara/Tokyo. I am not sure I entirely understand what is going on with this railroad do-see-do, but I have a suspicion it has something to do with solving a similar problem as this.

    5. "Comment 1: Am I reading it correctly that you propose bulldozing the San Carlos TOD roughly east of Holly Street?"

      There are lots of things that can be said about this "Transit Oriented Development" but for my part I will stick with "death is too kind a fate for anybody in any way involved". The rank corruption and unprofessionalism of the Caltrain/SamTrans/SMCTA triple-salary-sucking executive staff is disgusting. The incompetence, stupidity, ineptitude and unprofessionalism of Caltrain's staff and consultants is mind-boggling.

      I don't see how major impacts to the penny-ante new construction right up against the ROW can be avoided, particularly on the south-west of Holly, where approving construction was simply criminal. Shaving a foot or two of the edge of damnable sold-off parcels to the north-west might also be needed, depending. (Note that my hand-registered overlay of tracks and property boundaries was done using lots of time-wasting manual data scraping -- I am not using a real GIS or real CAD system, though I'm pretty confident of metre-level accuracy.)

      You didn't mention the Historic San Carlos Depot building. The answer is that it is moved westward out of the way. This sort of thing is done all the time. Chump change.

      Note also that even if some utter idiots were to seek to totally sabotage all Caltrain service forever by building "SFFS" (Pennsylvania Rail Road! New Jersey Transit! SEPTA! OMFG!) track configuration through Belmont/San Carlos, there are still problems because building a new two-track rail bridge adjacent to the existing Holly Street overpass will not allow even 4.5m (the generous inter-track spacing I use uniformly, 14.76 feet) close track spacing, so there's going to be some flaring out of the track centrelines right where the ROW has sufferered the worst self-inflicted sabotage.

      It's bad. Really really really bad. It's obvious who is to blame.

      The "good" news is that we're talking a multi-hundred-million dollar project (grade separating all of Redwood City and quadrupling Belmont, San Carlos and Redwood City stations) so on the order of ten million to buy out a couple of woefully misplaced stick buildings isn't the end of the earth. It would almost be lost in the noise of just the agency project "overhead" skimming payola, for example.

      (The bad news is that it would have just pennies to do the rational thing at San Bruno, but we live on The Stupidest Timeline, and those responsible for this sort of disaster are still at it.)

    6. "Comment 2: How about just connecting the Port of RWC lead track to the Dumbarton track rather than to the Caltrain main? ..."

      There are both horizontal (turnout placement, probably doable) and vertical problems with this.

      Recall that all the mainline tracks (Dumbarton and Caltrian SJ) tracks need to be climbing as steeply as possible as early as possible passing under Woodside Road in order to clear Chestnut Street -- roughly only 250m separation. A bit of fudging with lowering Holly under the big four-track train bridge(s) might help, but any turnout (aboutlying roughly 150m from Holly) is going to be on that incline, which means that the freight connection would being going up, diverging, then down again on a very tight curve in order to run down the middle of Holly. Seems completely infeasible to me.

      If you place the turnout on the Caltrain main with a diamond crossing the Dumbarton track the problem is barely improved.

      If you try to place the turnout further south (would be on the sweeping curve, but there is ZERO technical problem with curved turnouts, at least any place in the world aside from the USA USA USA) then you run out of space for the extra track under the Woodside Road overpass.

      It's a ridiculous mess!

      Now if both Dumbarton tracks flew over Woodside Road finding the space through the underpass is no problem, just as it is not if both tracks were underground there. The cost is another 700m of so of sky-high viaduct. Also, threading the lead through the big-ass columns and bents holding up the viaducts is another challenge and more civil expense. (All of which, as Clem points out, is a big bonus for our Caltrain mafia overlords. So, yay?)

      (I'm likely to waste some more days of my life updating my sketches more in line with above-ground flyover not below-ground duckunder Dumbarton junction, now that my mind has been changed. Will tighten required widths up a little, resulting in very slightly smaller impacts/takings between Maple and the junction. Might help with Port freight lead, might not.)

    7. "Comment 3: I also agree with Clem that the "scenario 1" that leaves Woodside as-is and handles the Dumbarton connection with a flyover seems like the winner to me. ..."


      "Comment 4: The Only other idea I have is to have the local tracks cross over to the bay side before RWC"

      I see only negatives.

      The whole point is same-direction cross-platform transfer and low-conflict (block two tracks, not four, you idiots!) turnbacks, so pairing tracks the easiest and most obvious (southbound fast / southbound slow / northbound slow / northbound fast) is the best setup from every perspective.

      One final note: the Dumbarton tracks could be made to join the Caltrain line as the inner track pair. Could make sense if some SF-Redwood shuttle trains run through and continued east some distance in the future, rather than turning back at the Redwood City platforms. Surprisingly few downsides, but there are some.

    8. RE the final note: Having Dumbarton join Caltrain as the inner track pair. That effectiveley solves the Port of RWC issue, doesn't it? The Caltrain tracks to SJ would be on the outside and remain at ground level. You do have to thread the lead around the viaduct supports, but you already have to thread it around the Caltrain track, so it can't be much worse, can it?

      It does increase the right-of-way sligtly though, since you need to leave space for a retaining wall on *both* sides of the Dumbarton tracks, rather than just the far side.

      caltrain-(embankment wall)-dumbarton-dumbarton-(embankment wall)-caltrain
      rather than
      dumbarton-caltrain-caltrain-(embankment wall)-dumbarton

      How much extra space is needed, and is there enough?

    9. @Clem: 50-foot viaducts aren't high enough:

  31. * "Use four-track approaches from the north and the south. Cross-platform transfers are most efficient if trains do not have to arrive and depart sequentially using the same track, which adds about 3 minutes of delay. The best transfer is one where the two same-direction trains can arrive and depart simultaneously on their own separate tracks."

    Four tracks from the south (or south further than Redwood Junction, where the SJ and the Dumbarton/Altamont lines split) makes no sense, especially as by far the best Caltrain service plan that has ever been proposed, anywhere, by anybody requires no Caltrain/Caltrain overtakes anywhere south of Redwood City station.

    "... northbound at a new Fair Oaks station at Fifth Avenue"

    Does not compute, especially as there's no space to even squeeze in a simple island platform and four tracks there.
    Nice idea, but not a good one.

    If -- IF -- there were any good reason not to terminate and turn the SF-Redwood local shuttle trains anywhere besides next to the platforms at Redwood City, that place might -- MIGHT -- might be a station somewhere along the Dumbarton line east of Redwood City and west of Fremont.

    But there isn't.

    SF-Redwood shuttles are overtaken by SF-SJ limited trains in the four-track section that runs north of Redwood City (at least as far as through Belmont, and more generously through under-construction-and-done-badly Hillsdale.) That's it. All problems solved.

  32. * "Include turn-back tracks"

    Turnback tracks are the United States' World Class Transportation Planning Professional's spawn from hell.


    They enshrine shit timekeeping, shit equipment utilization, shit crew utilization, and high maintenance costs, all with the bonus of tens or hundreds of millions of sweet sweet and totally useless capital construction cash. (ie Just how we love things around here, forever and ever and ever.)

    BART and Muni just love taking whole trains and crews out of service for tens of minutes by sending them on non-revenue magical mystery tours to insane turnback thingies. It's great! Now you need to buy an extra train or two. SCORE! Now you need to pay an extra crew or two. SCORE SCORE! Now you need to maintain the turnback facilities, after having been bled dry to build them. TOTAL WIN! WORLD CHAMPS! USA! USA! USA!

    Unless traffic density is crazy (and a turnback ever 15 minutes -- all that the Caltrain line can justify -- is amateur hour.
    The southbound shuttle train pulls into the station, right across the platform from the southbound limited train.
    Passengers transfer.
    The shuttle uses a mid-station crossover to put itself on the other platform, right across from where the northbound limited will stop.
    The northbound limited arrives and passengers transfer.
    Both trais depart to the north.
    Done. Repeat every 15 or 30 minutes. Done.

    (If that doesn't work for you -- and it should and does, with 150m shuttle trains and 420m+ platforms -- then have the shuttle follow the departing limited a little south of the station past a crossover. Terminate, reverse on the mainline track -- there's no other traffic coming for 15 minutes, after all, since in the anything but The Stupidest Timeline trains run on a schedule.)

    Besides, there's no room for this frippery.
    Four through tracks (two to SJ, two for Dumbarton) fill every inch available, and then quite a few extra inches which need to be acquired.

    You can store broken-down or reserve or out-of-service trains in the existing pointless already-paid-for side track sidings south of Redwood Junction, if you must.

    But nobody should ever be in the business of removing trains and crews from revenue service for extended periods of time just to change direction. Madness! Utter madness.

    * "Preserve room in the right of way north and south of the station for turn back pocket sidings, between the central slow tracks."
    No place to fit this to the south. Can't be done.
    To the north, it is possible to wedge in a central stub-end fifth track south of San Carlos station and south Howard Avenue, but, really, why?

    * "Dumbarton rail corridor trains may not necessarily "interline" or continue on the peninsula rail corridor ..."

    The right place to turn trains is at station platforms, preserving revenue service. If the timetable's so gummed up (and Transbay is, as it is in reality, such an unmitigated clusterfuck that it has zero salvage value and simply needs to be blown up, with its designers and builders inside) that you can't fit two whole Dumbarton trains an hour into the mix, then find a nice station north of Redwood City where there is platform capacity.

    And then of course you could do away with both of these "problems" at once by making the shuttles from the north and the shuttles to the east the same trains. (Wow!) No turnbacks in Redwood City at all. (Whoa! Mind dot blown. This is some sort of mad off-planet tech FROM THE FUTURE!)

    1. Richard, beautiful track design. I'm curious though we may see state regulations within the next few months that make apartment construction dramatically easier near Caltrain. If we see a significant population increase that supports off peak Caltrain service every 10 or even every 5 minutes, what needs to be built?

  33. * "Think ahead about construction sequencing. Redwood City should be grade separated in one project from Whipple to Route 84, ..."

    True, that.

    But the time to think ahead was three decades ago. You know, when many of the people posting here said so. When anybody with a single functioning neuron in the brain would have done so.

    It's going to be incredibly difficult and disruptive to do any grade separation anywhere along Caltrain, given the active lack of planning and active sabotage of the so-called "public" agencies. My God, look at what they did with the "transit oriented development" next to San Carlos station. They only thing more they could have done would have been to build on the tracks. Mind-boggling awful.

    The problem we have is that the final result barely fits within the existing ROW in most places. Actually constructing (below or above grade) the nice final result around any existing train tracks and any shoehorned train service is going to be a nightmare, because all of the wiggle room has gone, and none of the ROW-adjacent and once- or now-undeveloped parcels that could have been used for shoo-fly-ery have been acquired or preserved or even thought about by anybody anywhere at any "public" agency at any time.

    As for Pennsylvania Avenue (city easement on PCJPB ROW as far as we know), even that isn't going to be enough. Takings of un-developed and low-rise parcels east of the ROW are absolutely necesssary, and even then it's not clear in my mind how to get it done. It's really really hard. (It could have been "hard", but no, never ever planning ahead is how we make things both worse and massively more expensive, here in The Stupidiest Timeline. Oh man. The pain.)

    Anyway, here's what we need: RWC2019.pdf

    Point the Google Earth application at this if you like seeing what we need in georeferenced context -- and despairing.

    You're welcome! It wasn't a pleasure.

    1. Hi Richard, this is very nice and thoroughly thought out. Your maps show the hard work you put in, and I hope they will inspire someone.

    2. Updated PDF
      Google Earth update

      Updated with eastbound Dumbarton track flying high overWoodside Road, the westbound Dumbarton at grade passing under Woodside Road as discussed above.

      Also -- mirabile dictu! -- a Port of Redwood City lead track is wedged in using the miracle of a couple curved turnouts. (The being completely acceptable and widely deployed as needed everywhere in the world except for on US freight railroads, and hence US commuter railroads, and hence know-nothing US transportation consultants and agencies.) (All my turnouts in all these sketches are utterly standard UIC/DBAG geometries, the two tricky cases here being standard "300-1:9" simple turnouts bent with the main route at 1600m radius to match existing Dumbarton ROW.) The downside is that Chestnut Street needs to be lowered (hideous anti-urban anti-human "split" grade crossing) a bit to get under the tracks, which can't climb quite steeply enough on their own.

      All tracks at or above grade, as God (outside of San Francisco) intended.

      As an aside I believe it's even possible at 2.5%-ish for the Dumbarton line to dive to pass under Middlefield Road, running trenched and cut/cover all the way to the the bay and the Dumbarton tunnel. Up-up-up-down-down-down. The obvious of the tracks going above Middlefield and eventually diving some place further east also works, of course.

      Here's a fuzzy screenshot -- sorry about the low resolution, but I run into all sorts of Google Earth limits, as well as limits to my patience. Zoom in the PDF file to see details.

    3. @Richard, I may not be doing something right (being a Google Earth neophyte), but I can't seem to get the "Google Earth update" link you posted show any tracks going over Woodside Road. Is the link pointing to the right version, or am I just doing something wrong (entirely possible!)?

    4. A person who actually does this stuff for a (non-USA) living pointed out to me that shallower turnouts actually result is more favourable geometry. Yay!

      So, drawings updated with Port of Redwood City connection updated again, this time with turnouts based on bending 1:14 (rather than 1:9) UIC turnout base. Nice!

      @Reality Check: The Google Earth link is just to a 2D sketch, painstakingly geolocated. It's not a 3D model.
      I could make one (for you!), but, really ... why?

      God only knows I've made many -- so many! -- Google Earth-able 3D models in the past 15 years, and God only knows how utterly fucking appallingly stupidly the appallingly rancidly incompetent sleazebags of TJPA/PCJPB/SMCTA/SMCTA/SFCTA/VTA/Arup/PTG/HNTB/PBQD/WSP/etc have destroyed the public interest using better CAD tools and tens of hundreds of millions of public dollars regardless. So, yeah, 3D, 2D, whatever. The lunatics control the asylum ... and you pay them for the privilege, please and thank you.

      Anyway, picture -- if you will, in your mind! using the high-infinite power of human imagination! -- the eastbound (western-most) Dumbarton track flying high over both Woodside Road (aka State Highway 84) and all the other rail tracks, which at this point are at grade and run under the overpass, as today.

      Picture it in your mind. For in this, the Stupidest of All Timelines, you will never encounter it what you call ... "reality".

    5. OK, thanks for 'splainin that ... and that's perfectly fine. I guess after reading the intro text, I just thought maybe either you or I made some sort of mistake when I fired up Earth using the link and couldn't see any track flying high over Woodside Road. I'm all too happy to engage my powers of imagination ... especially if it avoids you wasting (probably, sadly) any time on 3d-ifying the .kml file. Although, I'm guessing you'd likely do it if there was a remotely decent chance of inspiring someone to cause the "right thing" to occur in the real world someday in our lifetimes.

    6. Remind me again why it makes more sense to connect Dumbarton to the outer tracks instead of the inner tracks? A single track flyover would be cheaper than a double track flyover, to be sure, but this seems like it would be a rounding error in the scope of the overall project. Besides, if any trains were extended to run through from SF onto Dumbarton, they would be the locals - per Clem's service plan. And in a FSSF world, that would put them on the inner tracks. That also allows the Caltrain through tracks to stay at ground level, on the outside, basically straight, and allows an easy connection to Port of RWC including however long of a lead track as they want, without fouling any of the passenger tracks.

    7. "Remind me again why it makes more sense to connect Dumbarton to the outer tracks instead of the inner tracks?"

      To avoid conflicts with turnbacks. Also, pretty much any Dumbarton (HSR or otherwise) would have to be limited north of RWC just to avoid 15-minute Caltrain locals, so why not start where you need to finish?

      "A single track flyover would be cheaper than a double track flyover, to be sure"

      Less than you think, sadly or surprisingly enough. At a zeroth-order estimate, bridge costs are proportional to surface area. Yeah, foundations count, but...

      Anyway, I'm pretty sure this can be done with a single single-track Woodside Road flyover, with the WB Dumbarton track sneaking under the road overpass, and compromises passing too-low above grade at Chestnut. In a way, it's the simplest part of the entire Hillsdale-Atherton exercise to pencil in, given the what-should-have-been evident solution.

      "Besides, if any trains were extended to run through from SF onto Dumbarton, they would be the locals"

      Possibly a subset of Caltrain locals but there's always going to be more demand SF-RWC than RWC-Fremont.

      Running the local shuttle past RWC is basically a move to avoid congestion and route conflicts.
      But a correctly-configured RWC main station can easily cope with at-platform turnbacks at 10 minute headway anyway, with no conflicts with SF-SJ or SF-Dumbarton trains, so why go there?

      Anyway, this is all crayon. (Notice no transition curves? Big big omission! Doesn't meaningfully affect Redwood Junction, with its wide curves and low superelevations, but my sketches are super-sketchy north of there.)

      Anyway, crayon or not, the unforgivable and deliberately estructive "TOD" sabotage the assholes of Caltrain/SMCTA have committed in San Carlos -- and that is happening in San Jose as we speak, for that matter -- means no remotely reasonable train service for anybody around here, ever. Death really is far too kind a fate.

    8. Updated a few days ago, for probably the last time.
      Considerably reduced property impacts/takes between RWC station and RW Junction.
      Rationalized layout and turnout count, saving millions.
      Faster (ridiculously over-spec UIC 1200m radius 1:18.5 100kmh diverge but hey, there's room, and it's not as if the added million or so would even be a rounding error in Caltrain's catastrophic over-spends and over-runs) crossovers in several useful places.
      100+kmh routes right into the platforms, hey!
      Space for transition spirals checked for and adjusted (but not shown -- too much trouble with cheesy graphics workflow I used.)

      You're welcome.


    9. Updated again.
      * Transition spirals added to all curves. (To German RiL800.0110 standards, and with conservative values.)
      * More painstaking workarounds for the San Carlos TOD catastrophe. (Again, death is too kind a fate for everybody at SamTrans and SMCTA and Caltrain and the consultant sleaze involved with this in even the remotest fashion.)
      * Gave up on unworkable concept of reusing existing Belmont platform and instead avoided property impacts on parcels to the east.
      * Wider spacing (9m where feasible) to additional track pair Hillsdale-San Carlos to allow reuse of some existing bridges.



      I'll invoice at the usual rate.

  34. Excellent coverage of the HSR Oversight hearing yesterday (11-12-2019) from Fresno Bee:

    Video of the hearing can be seen at (about 2 hours total)

    part 1

    part 2

    part 3


  35. Shocking News!!!!

    1. https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2019/11/26/bart-san-jose-timeline-2020.html