Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network

Dedicated to Sharing the Heritage of Redwood Empire Railroading

   SMART having a good portion of it's line single tracked may be in for a Firestorm when troubling events cripple the line.  On the San Francisco Peninsula (Cal Train), when a conflict with an auto or individual arises (being run over or in to), the train is required to stop until authorities have gone over the scene, and recovered items and cleared the site.  Many times this can take a good chunk of time.  The route down there is all double tracked so that events like this do not cripple the line.  I would like to know what SMART has in place to handle events like this along their single track rail crossings and right of way.  I know they have passing sidings, but this will not alleviate the problem.  I see the only solution as having to double track the entire SMART system, and.....why was this not done in the first place?  Do we have a Firestorm of problems ahead....???  I would welcome your comments on this.  Thankyou......   jbriogrande......       Have a good day........

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Comment by Dave S. on October 31, 2015 at 5:46pm

Below, David Edmondson says that the gauntlet tracks are required due to outdated CPUC regulations.   But others members have stated (elsewhere) that because there are no gauntlet tracks south of the Ignacio wye, the NWP won't be able to operate down there, presumably due to insufficient platform clearance.

I'm seeking clarification:  can freight trains physically squeak by the SMART platforms, or is it a physical impossibility?  Or are the gauntlet tracks really only required for regulatory compliance, as Mr. Edmondson suggests?  Finally, are the SMART DMUs "standard" in terms of rail centerline distance to platform edge?

Anyone know?

Comment by Carl Casale on August 7, 2015 at 8:18am

They didn't even have enough money to complete the entire project with single track. Cloverdale and Healdsburg construction isn't close to funded.

Comment by David Edmondson on August 1, 2015 at 10:28am
The gauntlet tracks are due to outdated CPUC regulations regarding platform distance from freight trains.
Comment by Dave S. on August 1, 2015 at 10:24am

I do applaud SMART for trying to conserve funds by trying a combination of single track and passing tracks instead of spending a ton more money on double-tracking.  (It also makes for an interesting traffic management problem.)  If ridership eventually materializes I'm sure a great deal of the line can be double-tracked.   However, the two tunnels, and most bridges will likely remain single-tracked forever.  In a related issue, I think that the gauntlet track was a waste of money.  Why not double track through the stations?  Or even better, why are the SMART DMUs not compatible with American platforms?  Or why can't passengers "mind the gap"?  (Admittedly, it's a big gap!)

Back to double-tracked crossings:  it's hard for me to imagine an accident at a double-tracked crossing on the Peninsula NOT affecting both tracks and closing them both for the duration of the field investigation.  OK, repairs, if needed, might not be required on that second track, but how long do repairs take?

It will be interesting to see whether Marin and Sonoma motorists will respect railroad crossing warnings any better than the average motorist elsewhere.  I'm betting there will be far fewer accidents, if only because the number of crossings and the number of trains won't approach anything like the traffic on the Peninsula.

The firestorm I foresee will almost certainly be financial.  SMART, IMHO, has no hope of getting the ridership and revenue they optimistically project.  Maybe in ten years, if they can hang on that long, but it's going to take a while and 101 will have to get a lot worse.

Comment by David Edmondson on August 1, 2015 at 10:23am
Quiet zones will keep the cars out, but:

Caltrain also has problems with cars closing the whole track. This will not be different for SMART. the reason why it wasn't double tracked to begin with is because of cost. The amount it would take to double track would almost double the capital cost of the system without a lot of improvement in reliability.

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