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49ers fans could score big with ACE

Game day rail service being pondered to new football stadium

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49ers fans could score big with ACE

ACE trains such as this one passing over the Altamont could carry 49ers faithful on game days starting in 2014.

Photo contributed/

POSTED February 10, 2012 1:11 a.m.

Come 2015 San Francisco 49ers faithful in Manteca could literally walk to the games.

That’s because the nearly $1 billion state-of-the-art stadium now under construction in Santa Clara is virtually on top of the Altamont Commuter Express passenger  train service’s Great America station in Santa Clara.

ACE spokesperson Thomas Reeves Thursday confirmed the commuter system has started discussions with the San Francisco 49ers to possibly provide game day service. It would be a short shuttle ride from the Great America station to the new stadium.

“It would be a first for us to have regular scheduled weekend service,” Reeves said of the possibility of ACE trains running on home game days for the NFL franchise.

Game day service - if implemented - would represent a 90-minute journey from ACE train between the Lathrop-Manteca station and the Great America station. ACE also has stations in Stockton, Tracy, Livermore, Pleasanton and even Fremont. Although Fremont is 19 minutes away from the Great America station by train, it offers parking facilities that could help relieve congestion at the stadium. In addition, there is no parking fee at ACE stations.

Once a year, ACE runs one special Saturday train from Stockton to San Jose for the San Jose Jazz Festival for $25. That includes round trip fare and admission to the festival. ACE also has one summer Saturday run from Stockton to the Great America station. The $50 ticket price includes admission to the family amusement park, round trip fare and an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet.

The Lathrop-Manteca station is located on West Yosemite Avenue on the border of the two cities. It is 2.5 miles from the intersection of Yosemite Avenue and Main Street in downtown Manteca. Unlike at football games, there is no charge for parking in the ACE parking lots.

Lathrop-Manteca consistently rates among the top two stations for boarding during weekday commutes on the ACE system. That’s because a number of commuters drive to the station from Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale, and even in the foothills to take the train to jobs in Bay Area.

There is a possibility at some point in the future getting to a 49er game from Manteca and Lathrop could become even more convenient and quicker.

That’s because ACE under language of the high speed rail bond passed by voters can compete for part of the $10 billion in funding. The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission that oversees the ACE system has been working on its own high speed service planning at the same time the much more controversial state rail system has been advancing.

A key component of the ACE high speed system is obtaining its own right-of-way across the Altamont and then straightening out the tracks using tunnels and bridges. It is over the Altamont Pass where ACE high speed trains would reach speeds of 150 mph before slowing down in urbanized areas on both sides of the Altamont.

The first step for such a plan, though, would likely have conventional trains using the track for a number of years. Having dedicated tracks without the numerous turns, an ACE conventional train could travel at speeds up to 90 mph.

The current tracks shared with Union Pacific often force ACE trains to slow down at times to 15 mph or - in worst case scenarios - wait on freight trains.

Union Pacific declined to sell the existing tracks to ACE. The reason is freight traffic is expected to pick up significantly especially when UP shifts intermodal operations from the Port of Oakland to the Lathrop intermodal facility they plan on more than tripling in size.

The roughly two-hour and 10-minute trip to San Jose from the Lathrop-Manteca station would be reduced to 90 minutes with simply improved tracks for heavy rail trains. High speed rail would cut that time even further to 55 minutes.

Also, there is a possibility that ACE service could be extended into Modesto and south to Merced at a future date. One route through Manteca would take the trains along the UP tracks and right by the $6.9 million transit station breaking ground this year.

For more info on ACE trains and fares go to

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