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High speed thru Manteca is down the tracks a ways

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POSTED October 20, 2013 8:40 p.m.

Two future high speed route alternatives cut through Manteca.

The odds are however, that any serious discussions about selecting an exact route won’t happen until at least 2029. That’s because the “backbone” of the high speed rail system going from San Francisco to Lose Angeles won’t be completed until then.

It is more likely that Altamont Corridor Express trains employing newer, more fuel efficient traditional heavy rail trains will connect Sacramento with the high speed station planned in Merced could be in place by 2029 if not earlier.

Rail planners have said those ACE trains are likely stop at the downtown Manteca station and a future Modesto station to do double duty as a connector for Sacramento riders to Los Angeles and as a commute train for San Joaquin County workers heading to jobs in Sacramento.

The ACE Modesto to San Jose service already has been proposed to stop at the downtown Manteca station. ACE has ambitious plans to have that up and running before 2020. ACE, which is the only other transit agency in the state that can compete for the high speed rail bond funding under terms approved by state voters, could eventually run high speed trains from San Jose to Modesto. If that happens there would be another station  built along the 120 Bypass corridor in Manteca.

The biggest bond benefactor on the horizon are ACE’s plans to build its own  track with minimal slowdowns over the Altamont that would be designed to carry high speed rail  but more than  likely would be traditional trains running most of the time.

The California High Speed Rail trains are capable of speeds up to 220 mph that would only be attained in “isolated” stretches such as between Merced and Bakersfield. It would make it possible to travel one day from Stockton to Los Angeles in one hour and 59 minutes with the system designed to ultimately handle a train every five minutes.

The high speed Altamont Commuter Express trains would operate at lower speeds as they will use grade level crossings as opposed to new tracks in the Altamont that will take travel from 10 mph to speeds close to 150 mph. The ACE trains would reduce the trip from a little over two hours and 10 minutes down to 55 minutes.

As for California High Speed Rail running into Sacramento, there are two northern routes from Merced north to the Capitol City on the table. One would skirt the eastern edge of Manteca roughly a half mile east of Austin Road while the other follows Union Pacific through Manteca and along the western edge of Lathrop. Manteca-Lathrop is the only place on the radar so far in California for the two systems to cross although the envisioned Altamont high speed system could use part of the state tracks to reach a southern terminus in Modesto.

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