Fast Start Feasibility Study for High Speed Rail Service

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Fast Start Feasibility Study for High Speed Rail Service

San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) engaged HDR (formerly Sharon Greene + Associates) as part of a key advisory team to explore opportunities for accelerating implementation of high-speed rail service between San Francisco and San Jose.

The service would operate along an existing Caltrain corridor between the future Transbay Center in San Francisco and San Jose Diridon Station. The corridor was designated for high-speed rail service in the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Business Plan; however, at the time of the feasibility study, the plan did not anticipate funding to be available for this segment until 2038.

Given growing ridership needs and significant capital investments already planned in the corridor, Bay Area stakeholders wanted to accelerate completion of this project. SFCTA led regional agencies in initiating a feasibility study to develop a lower-cost, lower-impact alternative to CHSRA's proposed full-build scenario, which would have added two sets of tracks along the entirety of the Caltrain Corridor. We assisted with several aspects of the study, including:

  • Identifying funding sources already programmed for capital improvements, such as tunnels, grade separations, electrification and rolling stock replacement, that would help achieve higher operating speeds
  • Quantifying the funding gap between programmed sources and the cost of all essential capital improvements, then assessing additional sources of potential funding and financing to close the gap
  • Developing a real estate pro forma to evaluate market value of publicly-owned parcels around the existing 4th/King Caltrain terminus, where a proposed relocation of rail yard and track infrastructure would free up land for redevelopment, with the sale proceeds contributed toward the Fast Start project
  • Developing P3 implementation concepts that would transfer responsibilities for design, construction, financing and maintenance of key Fast Start infrastructure components, such as the Downtown Tunnel Extension (DTX), to a private partner based on an availability payment model. Repayment for private investment could come from a per-train fee charged to operators using the tunnel.

The funding and implementation concepts proposed in the feasibility study generated enthusiasm among regional stakeholders and ultimately led CHSRA to front-load its investment in the San Francisco to San Jose segment of the statewide high-speed rail network. The feasibility study provided the framework for a memorandum of understanding between Bay Area transportation agencies and CHSRA, under which approximately $1 billion will be released through the State's Proposition 1A High-Speed Rail bond program to accelerate the program of capital improvements identified in the feasibility study. The per-train DTX fee charged to future CHSRA-operated trains considered in the study would be reduced in direct proportion to CHSRA's upfront contribution to the capital costs of the tunnel.

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San Francisco County Transportation Authority

San Francisco, CA
United States