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Ripon might secure ACE rail service

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POSTED December 17, 2013 11:44 p.m.

A Ripon stop may not be part of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission’s effort to expand Altamont Corridor Express train and rail service south to Merced.

At least not yet.

At Tuesday’s Ripon City Council meeting, Dan Leavitt, who is Manager of Regional Initiatives, said that the City of Ripon was mentioned during one of the public scoping sessions as a possible stop.

But much work would be required for consideration.

“The city would be responsible for financing the platform,” he said.

Leavitt added that ACE usually prefers stops in the downtown areas. One of the exceptions, in terms of looking for a model for Ripon, is the current Lathrop / Manteca Station at 17800 Shideler Parkway. “It’s our smallest site,” he said.

At the same time, Leavitt marveled at the new $8 million Manteca Transit Center at Moffat Boulevard and South Main Street, saying, “It’s a beautiful facility.”

Ripon would also need to look for available land, conduct an Environmental Impact Report, and secure funding sources, Leavitt noted.

ACEforward currently has goals that call for improving the existing service between Stockton and San Jose, from adding frequencies and reducing travel time, to improving service liability and safety.

Leavitt, during his presentation, indicated that extended services call for adding downtown Manteca and downtown Modesto in the near term and, subsequently, downtown Turlock and downtown Merced.

This plan integrates ACE into a unified Northern California rail service, extending to and connecting with the high-speed rail system.

“We’re currently a feeder service, making four daily round-trip services (from Stockton to San Jose),” said Leavitt. “We just had a record 1 million passengers.”

The future looks even brighter for ACE, which will provide weekend services come next year with the opening of the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi Stadium in Santa Clara near Paramount’s Great America theme park.

The Manteca and Modesto service extension are part of the ACEforward five-year plan goals for 2018. Included are some safety and operational improvements coupled with increasing service to six daily round trips.

ACE hopes to eventually extend services to Sacramento and Merced while replacing the existing diesel locomotive – one locomotive per eight coaches, traveling top speed of 79 mph – to that of the Diesel Multiple Unit. Each DMU train is self propelled with top speeds between 110 to 125 mph and performance not affected by train length.

Ripon City Council, for now, talked about further studying the possibility of bringing in an ACE train stop.

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