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Where It Will (and Won't) Go

ALTHOUGH A FINAL ROUTE hasn't been selected yet, the high-speed rail line would serve all of the state's major population centers. From San Diego, trains will speed north to Los Angeles and Bakersfield and Fresno. Near Merced, the route will split: One track will continue north through Stockton to Sacramento, the other to San Jose and a downtown San Francisco terminus.

Though Oakland lobbied extensively for service, if the East Bay does get a high-speed line, it is likely to come only later in the development of the system, or in the form of a faster conventional rail line. Orange County is in the same boat.

However, on top of dedicated high-speed rail, the authority also hopes to upgrade service on two other busy corridors by helping to plan and finance faster, more frequent service. The conventional rail service on the San Jose-Oakland-Sacramento line and the coastal Los Angeles-San Diego route, both busy and growing today, would be targeted for upgrades under the plan.

How to best connect to the South Bay hasn't been decided.

Whether the line would cross Pacheco Pass or tunnel underneath is still under study. Tunneling would add considerable expense, but would save time, especially between the Bay Area and Sacramento. Going over Pacheco Pass would be a more southerly route, and probably incorporate a stop in Gilroy.

San Jose, already the Bay Area's only real rail hub, would be one of the busiest high-speed rail stops. Trains will stop at Diridon Station, which is already served by Caltrain, Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, and Amtrak's Capitol Corridor, a commuter service connecting San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento and Auburn. VTA's new Vasona Light Rail Line, which recently broke ground, will also serve Diridon Station, as will the planned BART extension.

But all of these lines together would be a drop in the bucket compared to the passenger load that high-speed rail would bring to downtown San Jose.

Rail planners forecast that San Jose would be the state's fifth busiest high-speed rail stop, serving 5 million passengers per year.

By contrast, San Jose International Airport today serves 13 million passengers per year.

The busiest high-speed rail station, Los Angeles' Union Station, would serve 9 million passengers per year, and may be connected to Los Angeles International Airport. Today, LAX is the third busiest airport in the world, serving 68 million passengers a year, and may hit 100 million by 2010. Though SFO would be served by a high-speed rail stop in Millbrae, LAX is miles away from downtown LA and nowhere near Union Station. While it's essential that Union Station and LAX be linked, and governmental and business groups are already studying how to make it happen, the link will likely be eliminated from the study in November. Local agencies may instead build their own crosstown link.

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From the October 4-10, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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