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Regional rail plan calls for expanded service
August 22, 2007, 12:00 AM By Dana Yates
High speed and expanded Peninsula train service are part of a 50-year regional rail plan to completely overhaul regional rail in Northern California, according to a report released by the Metropolitan Transportation Committee.

The plan calls for expanded rails for more trains between San Francisco and San Jose while promoting high-speed rail from Los Angeles to the Central Valley that could connect to the Peninsula by way of the Dumbarton Bridge. The grand plans carry heavy price tags and a lack of funding remains the biggest obstacle in making the idea a reality, according to the MTC report.

The report was released the same day the state passed a budget that cuts $20.7 million previously allocated for high-speed rail.  State Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, are calling on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace the money before signing off on the budget. The two legislators will hold a press conference today.

Meanwhile, the City/County Association of Governments is holding a Regional Rail Plan Community Workshop in San Carlos Monday to present its proposal to the public. The meeting caps 18 months of analysis and meetings with regional transportation agencies to draft the "blue print” for the major expansion.

The blueprint outlines ways to expand rail service throughout the Bay Area and how to connect it with high-speed rail planned between Los Angeles and the Central Valley. The MTC report suggests electrification of trains along the Peninsula. Electrification would allow trains to start and stop quickly, increasing the number of stops trains could make along the line, according to the report.

Total upgrades would cost approximately $5.5 billion, according to the report.

It also calls for the expansion from two tracks to three or four, allowing for more trains to travel along the Peninsula at a time. Faster trains between major cities could pass slower, regional trains, according to the report.

The major kink in the plan is finding funding for such upgrades. The report suggests teaming with the California High Speed Rail Authority to leverage local, regional, state and federal funds.

A community meeting will be held 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Aug. 27 at the SamTrans building, Second Floor Auditorium, 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos.


Dana Yates can be reached by e-mail: dana@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.


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