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California High-Speed Rail Authority publishes northern route preferences

USA: California High-Speed Rail Authority has published its recommended alignments for two sections of the planned line in northern California.

Public feedback will now be sought before the board makes a decision in September. Draft environmental documents would then be published in December 2019 and March 2020, ahead of a final decision.

The alignment of the 82 km San Francisco – San Jose section has already been defined in state law, with high speed and Caltrain commuter services to share tracks. The latest report recommends design Alternative A which has a light maintenance facility to the east of the line in Brisbane and does not include additional passing tracks in the middle of the corridor. High speed stations would be located at Millbrae and 4th & King Street, which would be the interim terminus until the Downtown Extension provides access to the Salesforce Transit Center.

For the 134 km San Jose – Merced section of the line, the Authority staff recommends Alternative 4. This would see high speed services share the existing Union Pacific corridor between San Jose and Gilroy, continuing on a dedicated high speed alignment through Pacheco Pass. The shared section would be an at-grade alignment designed for a maximum speed of 175 km/h, with two electrified tracks for passenger services and a third track for freight services.

‘The identification of the preferred alternatives is an important step in defining the programme and advancing the implementation of the Authority’s Silicon Valley to Central Valley line that will ultimately bring high speed rail to northern California’, said Northern California Regional Director Boris Lipkin on July 2. ‘In recommending preferred alternatives, we aim to find the right balance between system performance characteristics, environmental factors, and community factors.’

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