As mandated by Proposition 1A, the California High Speed Rail Authority is beginning its process of studying the Altamont Corridor alignment. Have a look at their announcement newsletter for some details.
The project corridor is defined as San José to Stockton, with a possible spur to Modesto:
As you can tell, this is basically an upgrade and electrification of the Altamont Commuter Express - the full newsletter includes drawings of electric ACE trains traveling along a high speed rail corridor with overhead wires. The projection is that Stockton will be anywhere from 55 to 75 minutes from downtown San José once the corridor is completed, with trains operating at 150 mph or greater.
And the explanation given on the newsletter of the project's scope and goals:
The Altamont Corridor Rail Project will provide a vital link in the regional transit network, connecting our communities like never before. The project will create a dedicated passenger train corridor between Stockton and San Jose, with stops in key cities in between. A spur link to Modesto is also a possibility. The project study area is shown to the right, along with opportunities for strategic intercity rail connectivity. Specific route alignments and station locations will be identified through a community-based planning process. Once developed, alternative scenarios will be evaluated through the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report.
The project could allow operation of trains between the Bay Area and points north including Stockton and Sacramento, as well as points south including Modesto and beyond, within the California High-Speed Train system. The project will provide intermodal connections to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to serve the Oakland Airport, cities of Oakland and San Francisco, as well as other Bay Area communities. Intermodal connections to BART could be located in the Livermore vicinity, should the Dublin/Pleasanton BART line be extended, as well as in the Fremont/Union City area, meeting either the Fremont line or planned Warm Springs/San Jose extension.
The Altamont Corridor Rail Project could also accommodate a future connection to the Dumbarton rail service in the Fremont/Union City area, as well as connect to the Valley Transportation Authority light rail in Santa Clara County. The project will coordinate with local bus services, providing access to proximate market areas and interfacing with regional bus links where appropriate. Whether for intercity trips, daily commutes, or access to the statewide High-Speed Train system, the Altamont Corridor Rail Project will serve our communities like never before!
My own view is that while faster ACE trains would be nice, this really isn't as high a priority for the state as upgrading the Capitol Corridor, restoring the Coast Daylight service along the Central Coast, and upgrading and speeding up the Pacific Surfliners, to name but a few projects more deserving. The inclusion of the Altamont Corridor in Prop 1A was a sop to Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani and interests in San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties to compensate for the choice of the Pacheco Pass route for the main HSR trains.
I don't have much of a preference about the implementation on the route, though we will predictably hear from residents in Fremont and Pleasanton concerned about the impact on their neighborhoods. And while it'll be nice to throw that in the faces of the people suing because the Altamont alignment was rejected for the main HSR trains, I'm not entirely sure what the Altamont high speed corridor project gets us. It doesn't deserve to be funded ahead of other higher priority corridors. I'm all for improved passenger rail and I wish the CHSRA and its corridor partners well in the development of a sensible plan, but if this never got funded, well, that's an outcome I could live with.
The scoping meeting schedule is below. All meetings are from 3PM to 8PM.
Livermore - Tuesday, Nov. 10
Robert Livermore Community Center
4444 East Avenue
Stockton - Thursday, Nov. 12
San Joaquin Council of Governments
555 E. Weber Avenue
Fremont - Tuesday, Nov. 17
Fremont Teen Center
39770 Paseo Padre Parkway
San José - Wednesday, Nov. 18
Le Petit Trianon Theatre
72 North Fifth Street