The California High-Speed Rail Authority is proposing a change to the configuration of the tracks planned for its 33-mile route from Los Angeles to Anaheim.
While the plan, called the “shared passenger track alternative,” isn’t set in stone, Jim Patrick, a spokesperson for California High-Speed Rail Authority, said it is likely the option the agency will move toward making official and work to get environmental clearance for. It would add a fourth track on the line down to Fullerton; two tracks would be used from there to Anaheim.
The California High-Speed Rail project hopes to move passengers from Anaheim to San Francisco at top speeds of more than 220 mph. Construction work is well underway in the Central Valley to start moving passengers from Bakersfield to Merced by around 2030. Service in the Southern California region is planned for 2040. More than 30 million people a year are expected to ride the line.
Traveling from the Los Angeles Union Station to Anaheim’s ARTIC station is expected take 46 minutes under the new proposal. The route from Los Angeles passes through Norwalk and Fullerton on its way to Anaheim and is estimated to cost more than $6 billion to build.
There are already three existing mainline tracks near Union Station and where a possible Fullerton station would go. Adding the fourth mainline track will give more room for freight rail, Metrolink and high-speed rail to operate in the corridor.
The changes in the Los Angeles to Anaheim segment come in part due to community opposition to a proposed freight facility in Colton.
“So instead of holding freight trains to keep them off the three existing lines, we are building a fourth line,” Patrick said. “We are gonna have two lines for freight trains and two lines for passenger trains running between Los Angeles and Anaheim.”
At times the freight trains could run on the passenger tracks, but not vice versa.
The Rail Authority’s board will hear a presentation of the new option at a Thursday meeting – it is unclear when in the future a decision on the new option will be made.
A part of that presentation is new details for how train crossings will be modified in Anaheim. Rail Authority officials hope to make two new grade separations – to keep trains separated from other traffic at intersections – around the Platinum Triangle at State College Boulevard and Cerritos Avenue and modify four other crossings in Anaheim.
Previously they had planned for seven new grade separations.
City of Anaheim spokesperson Mike Lyster said Anaheim officials welcome the grade separations being looked at because they focus on future busy areas of the city, around the Platinum Triangle, OC Vibe and the planned Santa Ana Riverwalk.
“We as a city have provided input through the years. At this point, they are in advanced stages of looking at the route into Anaheim with evaluation of what will work best with rail crossings and other specifics,” Lyster said. “In general, we welcome as many separations of roadways and railways as possible, understanding there are always considerations and limitations for impact, feasibility and funding.”
Patrick said every grade crossing at minimum will have four railroad crossing gates. He said the Rail Authority is evaluating crossing configurations in Anaheim and Fullerton with consideration given to reduced servicing capacity since there will be only two trains an hour instead of four.
The Rail Authority is still exploring whether there will be stations in Fullerton and Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs. The presentation prepared for Thursday says city support for stations has been uncertain and would add a few hundred million to construction costs. Patrick said it’s an ongoing discussion between cities and the Rail Authority about what makes sense for the project, cities and ridership.
Fullerton Public Works Director Stephen Bise said the city will study at a later time whether to build a station and will wait to hear more from the state agency about the plans.
“It would be a pretty big endeavor if they were to put a station here,” Bise said.
Bise said a fourth-track expansion will have lots of construction and right-of-way impacts in Fullerton.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority is hosting an online open house on Nov. 29 to talk about the Los Angeles to Anaheim segment.