The core of the California high-speed rail (HSR) system will operate from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  The northern and southern segments of the HSR system (called the bookends) will “blend” with regional and local operations. The blended system in the northern bookend from San Francisco to San Jose corridor will support modernized Caltrain service and high-speed rail service primarily on shared tracks substantially within the existing Caltrain corridor. 

Currently, the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) is facilitating a planning/environmental process to further define the blended system. Additional system improvements that need to be defined include HSR stations, passing tracks that can be used by HSR trains to bypass the Caltrain trains that need to stop more frequently, at-grade crossing improvements, and system upgrades to support higher train speeds.  Grade separations, a storage/maintenance facility, and other system elements will also be considered in defining the blended system.

For the latest information on the CHSRA blended system process, click here

NOTE: Improvements associated with the blended system are related but separate from the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP) which will electrify Caltrain service.  While the PCEP also provides the appropriate electric system to accommodate future HSR service, the PCEP itself will not provide HSR service in the Caltrain corridor. The CHSRA will need to complete its planning/environmental process for a blended system before HSR service is provided. The PCEP has independent utility and is scheduled to be complete by 2020. The environmental review of the PCEP was completed in January 2015 and Caltrain is currently in the procurement phase. For more information about the PCEP, click here.

Blended System Background

The path to the current blended system concept has spanned many years.   

In 2004, Caltrain entered into an agreement with the California High Speed Rail Authority to work cooperatively to plan a shared corridor between San Francisco and San Jose.  In 2009, following voter approval of $9 billion to plan and construct the state’s high-speed rail system, the agencies entered into another agreement (2009 Agreement, 2009 Amendment) to work in partnership to identify design alternatives that would support both high-speed rail and modernized Caltrain service. These original plans called for a fully-grade separated four-track system between San Francisco and San Jose.

With much local opposition to these original plans, which would have significant impacts to the multiple communities surrounding the corridor, a new concept was born.  The new concept was based on utilizing primarily a two-track system which would avoid significant impacts to the surrounding communities and contain project costs.  This new concept was termed the peninsula corridor “blended system”.

Extensive technical analysis was conducted to determine the viability of a blended system/service.

Caltrain conducted a capacity analysis, which determined that a blended system is operationally viable. The analysis was prepared by LTK Engineering using a computer simulation model customized for the Caltrain corridor.

Caltrain completed two blended system studies that build on the 2012 capacity analysis. These two blended system studies are planning tools to help interested stakeholders better understand various blended system scenarios. They do not include any policy or planning recommendations. Caltrain/HSR Blended Grade Crossing and Traffic Analysis and
Caltrain/HSR Blended Service Plan / Operations Considerations Analysis (requested by stakeholders). 

In 2012, with local, regional and state agreement on the blended system/service concept, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the California High Speed Rail Authority, Caltrain and six other San Francisco Bay Area funding partners established a regional funding memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support the blended system.

The MOU specifically identifies funding for early investment in the corridor to implement the Caltrain Modernization Program, which include the CBOSS PTC project and the PCEP. 

In addition to the 2012 MOU, Caltrain and HSR signed a new agreement in 2013, replacing the agreements signed in 2004 and 2009. The 2013 agreement commits the two agencies’ to advancing a Blended System for the peninsula corridor and outlines the general path for advancing the Caltrain Modernization Program and the blended system. 

For current information about the blended system planning/environmental process conducted by the CHSRA, click here.

9/30/15 - cf

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