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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                 
August 29, 2011

For More Information, Contact:
Melissa Figueroa (916) 651-4011 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


SACRAMENTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) today said he welcomes the just- released statement from the California High Speed Rail Peer Review Group that supports “a blended system” for High Speed Rail on the San Francisco to San Jose corridor. The “blended” approach was proposed by U.S. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, State Senator Joe Simitian and State Assemblyman Rich Gordon earlier this year in order to minimize community impacts and reduce the project’s cost.

Simitian said he was pleased but not surprised by the results of the Peer Review Group’s analysis.  “My colleagues and I have been making the case that High Speed Rail ‘done right’ means a ‘blended system’ along the San Jose to San Francisco corridor – a system that integrates High Speed Rail with a 21st century Caltrain.”

Earlier this year Eshoo, Simitian and Gordon called on the High Speed Rail authority to embrace a new vision for the South Bay and Peninsula segment of the system; one that eschewed the notion of a 60’ high viaduct, stayed within the existing Caltrain right of way and dramatically scaled back the proposed scope of the project and the attendant Environmental Impact Report. That, they said, coupled with improvements to Caltrain like electrification and ‘positive train control,’ has the potential to dramatically reframe the debate along the San Jose to San Francisco corridor.

In a letter dated August 22, 2011, the Peer Review Group responded to a request from Simitian and Assemblyman Rich Gordon for an analysis of the “blended” approach proposed by Eshoo, Simitian and Gordon.  Among the Peer Review Group’s Observations:

• “The Peer Review Group (has) reviewed your joint statement carefully… The thrust of our recommendations (is) consistent with, the substance of your proposal.”

• “There appear(s) to be a significant possibility that a “blended” approach…could be initially operated in conjunction with local rail services…within the existing right-of-way, given investment in electrification and minor capacity enhancements, and thus would be more acceptable to local concerns.”

• “A blended approach would be much less costly…”

• “Adopting a blended approach with local agencies would permit a sharing of the planning and management burden in those areas…”

• “With respect to the question you raise about changing the HSRA’s EIR to reflect only the initial stages of blended operation, this approach would also be consistent with our recommendation for an EIR/EIS to focus on the initial service levels…”

Simitian called the commentary by the Peer Review Group, “particularly compelling given the professional expertise and experience of the Peer Review Group membership.”

Simitian also noted that there appeared to be a, “growing consensus in support of a blended system, given recent statements by Caltrain, the Bay Area Council, Peninsula cities and now the Peer Review Group.” He reiterated his hope and expectation that a response from the High Speed Rail Authority would be forthcoming this fall.

For more information, or to see a copy of the Peer Review Group’s letter go to:



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