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Regional and High Speed Rail Planning

Last updated 2/11/2011

Regional and High Speed Rail Background

In September 2007, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) adopted the Regional Rail Plan.   This comprehensive planning document maps out a 50-year strategy to improve and expand both passenger and freight rail services in the 9-county Bay Area.  With freeway congestion, commute patterns and climate change emerging as growing concerns, the development of convenient, efficient rail service is a key element to addressing the Bay Area’s current and future transportation needs. 

The Regional Rail Plan is the result of efforts by MTC, BART, Caltrain and a coalition of passenger and freight operators.  It looks at improvements and extensions of railroad, rapid transit, bus connections and high-speed rail services for the near (5 to 10 years), intermediate (10 to 25 years), and long-term (beyond 25 years).  A copy of the Draft Regional Rail Plan including these recommended improvements, can be viewed on MTC’s website.

The adoption of the Regional Rail Plan coincides with efforts by the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) to assess the feasibility of a statewide high speed rail system and in particular, to identify a route for bringing high speed rail service into the Bay Area.

In summer 2006, the City of Livermore formed the Tri-Valley Regional Rail Working Group (TRWG).  Made up of both technical and policy advisory committees, this group has met periodically to identify regional rail issues, develop a consensus vision statement for rail priorities, and to ensure cooperative interaction with the efforts of both BART to Livermore and the California High Speed Rail project.  The TRWG policy advisory committee is made up of elected officials or directors of all of the Tri-Valley cities, Alameda County, BART, LAVTA, CALTRAIN, the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE), the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and others.  The TRWG has been successful in focusing the California High Speed Rail Authority’s attention on planning improvements to ACE train service through the Altamont Corridor to provide faster, more frequent trips, as well as a platform connection to a future BART extension to Livermore.

High Speed Rail in California

With a motto of “Fly California without ever leaving the ground,” the CHSRA envisions high-speed trains capable of maximum speeds of up to 220 miles per hour with an expected trip time from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just over two hours and 30 minutes.  In November 2008 California voters approved Proposition 1A, a $10 billion bond initiative to fund the first phase of this 700-mile system that will ultimately extend from Sacramento to San Diego. 

In November 2005 the CHSRA certified the program-level Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the statewide high speed rail system.  CHSRA is currently preparing a program-level EIR/EIS analyzing high speed rail alignments providing service from the Central Valley to the Bay Area.   In December 2007, CHSRA recommended the “Pacheco” Alignment to bring express high speed rail service from Merced (in the Central Valley) to the South Bay serving San Jose, and San Francisco.  The Authority also recommended significant improvements to existing regional commuter rail services through the “Altamont” Alignment to increase service speed and frequency from the San Joaquin Valley through the Tri-Valley and into the greater Bay Area.  The Regional Rail Plan supports this approach and includes a recommendation for a BART extension to Livermore with connections to the enhanced commuter rail service and/or high speed train service.

Refer to the "BART and Rail Planning" link on our main page for future project updates and meeting notices.  For more information, please contact Bob Vinn, Assistant City Engineer, City of Livermore Engineering Division, at 925-960-4500, or via email.