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TAMC Rail Policy Committee Meeting Report

February 1, 2010 Meeting

Reported by Chris Flescher, Associate Director

King City Rail Station Planning Area
Several studies have been done which support re-establishing the train station.

One study says that reusing the existing station building is possible, by keeping the existing grade crossings but utilizing some signaling improvements.  If no grade separations are necessary, that would reduce the necessary expense.

The King City proposed Downtown Addition Specific Plan would complement the rail station.  The plan would add land to the downtown area, for a new development just south and east of the existing downtown.  The project would involve about 110 acres, and it will go to the City Council this spring or summer.

The proposed safety improvements in the area are planned to happen whether or not a station is created.  This will involve changes to road intersections next to existing and proposed grade crossings.

Fort Hunter Liggett Military Base
Fort Hunter Liggett could also benefit significantly from a station in King City.  The base is used by several units of the Army.  Currently, people fly into San Jose, then catch a bus to the base.  Running the bus services costs about $2 million per year.  Having a nearby train station would save a lot of time, money, as well as air pollution from buses.  At this time, about 50,000 soldiers per year travel to and from the base.

One proposal mentioned was that the Coast Rail Coordinating Council would support the idea of a King City train station, partly to help the military.  In return the military would support the proposed Coast Daylight train.

Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC)
The group has been working for about 10 years to buy the Watsonville to Davenport rail line.  They are in final negotiations with Union Pacific for the sale, and the Sierra Northern Railroad (which is the current operator of the line).  The cement plant in Davenport will soon close permanently.

The Sierra Northern has recently gained the support of one customer which was using roads to carry its freight.  The railroad is in negotiations to get the support of other customers along the line.

The rail line right of way is also a possibility for a bike trail.  The SCCRTC will initially focus on
the bike trail, then consider passenger rail in the more distant future.  Any trail would be next to the rails, not on top of them.  The Sierra Northern is interested in having a dinner train between Santa Cruz and Davenport.  The planning for the trail will start as soon as SCCRTC completes the purchase of the rail line.

Monterey Branch Line Status Update

There will be a detailed report next month, including plans for three stations.

TAMC is moving forward with the Capitol Corridor JPA.  The CCJPA people want to explore the idea further.  TAMC will need to make a decision on that subject (Capitol Corridor or Caltrain
extension) soon.  New HSR funding from the federal government makes Caltrain electrification between San Francisco and San Jose more likely.  If that occurs, there will be problems with bringing Caltrain service to Salinas.  TAMC has not decided against extending Caltrain, even though they are looking closely at the Capitol Corridor.

A member recommended that a representative from TAMC attend the meetings of the HSR agency.  TAMC has attended meetings of the Technical Committee for the San Jose – Merced segment.

There are predictions that the Gilroy stop on the HSR will have very high ridership, partly due to connections with trains and buses traveling to the Central Coast area.

Monterey Branch Line

AMC has been meeting with staff members of the cities about station locations.  TAMC is working on creating computer visual simulations for trains and stations in Monterey and Marina.  TAMC will start a steering committee to do media outreach.  TAMC will work with the city of Monterey on the Fisherman’s Wharf development plan, and the city of Marina , on the Central Area plan, to make sure that the plans for the rail line and stations will fit in well with the two city development plans.

Coast Daylight Castroville Station

At this time, the Coast Daylight is not planned to stop in Castroville (where the connection would be made to the MBL), but that could change in the future.