Caltrans seeks public input on statewide rail plan

Want to provide input towards the future of rail in California? Caltrans will be holding a workshop at Metro’s headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, tomorrow evening from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for the public to review and comment on the draft California State Rail Plan. Those unable to attend the meeting can participate in the online webinar scheduled for next Tuesday, Feb. 26.

Here’s the full press release from Caltrans:

LOS ANGELES – Caltrans, which manages two of the nation’s busiest passenger rail lines, is asking its rapidly growing passenger base what they think about rail systems in California.

The department will host five public open houses and a statewide webinar this month to solicit input on the draft California State Rail Plan (CSRP), which will lay out a vision for freight, passenger and high-speed rail in the state. The draft plan is available on the Internet
( and comments can be submitted through March 11.

“Each year, nearly six million passengers ride the trains in California,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “It’s important that we find out what our citizens have to say about rail, because their input will help us build a truly connected California.”

Ridership on California trains is up 56 percent since 2002, and California has about 18 percent of all Amtrak riders.

“The Authority looks forward in working with Caltrans and our local partners to implement a statewide rail modernization plan that invests in urban, commuter, intercity, and high-speed rail lines to meet the state’s 21st century transportation needs,” said Jeff Morales, CEO of California High-Speed Rail Authority.

To review the draft plan locally and comment, please attend the event listed below. If you can’t attend a meeting in person, you can participate in the online webinar.

  • Los Angeles: February 20, 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza
  • Webinar: February 26, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Online Webinar, event password: RailPlan1

The final plan (scheduled to be issued this summer) will fully integrate California’s future high-speed rail system with existing and proposed conventional rail systems. The plan will serve as a basis for federal and state investments for high-speed and intercity passenger rail in California and will also describe the existing conditions of the state’s rail systems and the economic and environmental benefits of improvements.

5 replies

  1. “They [Union Pacific] built and laid down the tracks out of their own pocket.”

    Not exactly. Most of the freight railroads in the western half of the country were subsidized by give-aways of federal lands. I’m not sure about the status of the coast line, but Union Pacific’s main transcontinental lines were all subsidized.

    The subsidy is much smaller than that for roads, and the railroads now pay property tax as well as all the maintenance costs, but it wasn’t 100% private enterprise.

    Unfortunately, part of their subsidy was permanent immunity from local or state attempts at eminent domain (important for something that requires continuous right-of-way). So if UP doesn’t want to make it easy for Caltrans / Amtrak to run passenger trains, it doesn’t have to.

  2. Sam,

    It’s because Amtrak does not own the tracks, Union Pacific does. They built and laid down the tracks out of their own pocket so they get to do whatever they want with it. Hence the rails are used primarily by UP for freight.

    Amtrak, a government agency, cannot just seize private property and do whatever they want. The best we can have today is have Amtrak share the tracks with Union Pacific, and since they own it, they have the priority.

  3. In anticipation of HSR, why don’t we just run the Coast Daylight from LA to SF via the coast route? That corridor is desperately underserved and taking the train right into SF is much preferable than transferring from the other side of the bay.