State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) emphasized Tuesday night at a meeting with City Council that he supports a high-speed rail project running from San Jose to San Francisco on the same tracks as Caltrain.
He wanted to make sure people understood he envisions that passengers who ride up north from Los Angeles to San Jose could continue with high-speed rail all the way up the Peninsula, he said.
“People who want to get off in San Francisco would keep going on the same train and on to Los Angeles,” he said. No one would have to get off in San Jose, walk across the station, and go onto another train, he said.
“Federal authority has been granted that would allow high-speed rail to stay on the same rail as Caltrain uses,” he said.
On Tuesday, Simitian had a with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) and Assemblyman Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park), in which the three recommended California's high-speed rail “blend” with Caltrain.
In order to properly blend high-speed rail with Caltrain, Simitian said Caltrain needs to to the “21st century,” which includes “electrification” and “safety improvements” that would allow trains to run at high speeds. On a 21st-century system, he said, 120 mph is doable.
Not everyone at the meeting seemed thrilled to hear Simitian support HSR.
Councilwoman Gail Price asked whether funds for HSR could be diverted to Caltrain, given that Caltrain . “This is not the best time to be looking for dollars from ever-shrinking funds,” Simitian replied.
Palo Alto resident Herb Borok reminded the council that Palo Alto is involved with a lawsuit against high-speed rail. He said he wants any action the council intends to take on the lawsuit or in favor of Simitian’s proposals to be fully and publicly vetted. “Give the public the opportunity to speak,” he said.
Commuter Omar Chatty said he wants Californians to have the opportunity to vote again on high-speed rail. “If high-speed rail happens, let it stop in San Jose,” he said. Trains running through residential areas are dangerous, he said.
“Stop killing people with a horizontal guillotine," he said. "Let’s get BART going.”