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Rail meeting: grade separations, DMUs, and tunnels

From: domainremoved <Heyward>
Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2015 16:36:00 -0700

Rich and Kirsten,

Thank you for hosting tonight's meeting on rail and grade separations.
Finding a way to make Menlo Park's rail crossings safer should be a high
priority. Its an issue that the City has struggled with for far too
long. Given the relatively short distance between the Ravenswood
crossing and the creek, as well as the short distance between El Camino
and the tracks, the options are limited. Please make sure that Caltrain
and city staff make these constraints clear to you and the public. I do
not support (nor do most residents) an elevated track that would divide
Menlo Park with a San Carlos like wall.

I also hope that you will get an update on the electrification plan. I
remain mystified as to why diesel multiple units (DMUs) are not being
considered as an alternative to full electrification. DMU's provide most
of the benefits of EMUs at a fraction of the cost. They can also be
implemented much more quickly than electrification and without the
visual blight of overhead catenaries. I know that other transit
agencies, like MBTA in Boston, are planning to use DMUs as they upgrade
and expand their transit systems. Of course DMUs, like all
technologies, have constraints and limitations (potential need for FRA
waiver to run on freight lines, running diesel engines in tunnels,
etc.). I do not believe any of these is insurmountable. Given the cost
savings and other benefits, DMUs should be on the table for Caltrain's
system upgrade.

Finally, I want to add my voice to those who believe that the ultimate,
long term plan for Caltrain and high speed rail should be a tunnel. By
putting ALL trains and rails underground, the current Caltrain right of
way can be converted to a myriad of economically and socially beneficial
uses, including housing, commercial businesses, parks, trails, etc. The
tremendously valuable real estate generated by undergrounding will go a
long way toward offsetting the cost of tunneling. Tunneling the trains
will also eliminate any potential for accidents with motor vehicles and
will make it far more difficult for individuals intent on harming
themselves - or others - to access the tracks.

I wish you the best in addressing these urgent and critical issues.

Heyward Robinson
Menlo Park City Council 2006-2010
Dumbarton Rail Committee 2006-2010
Received on Wed Mar 18 2015 - 16:31:09 PDT

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