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Trains thru area could easily double
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What’s coming down the tracks in the Manteca-Ripon-Lathrop area is addressed broadly in the Caltrans vision for California’s rail plan for the next 20 years.
The public draft released this week notes:
uintegrated rail service between Merced and Stockton will have operating speeds up to 125 miles per hour.
Altamont Corridor Express trains passing through Manteca, Ripon and Lathrop that will all have station stops will connect with high speed rail in Merced.
intermodal  freight train traffic into Northern California will increase  from 29.4 million tons annually to 59.3 million tons by 2040.
intermodal freight train traffic heading out of Northern California will increase from 21.3 million tons annually to 52.9 million tons by 2040.
While ACE may ultimately have six passenger trains serving the Lathrop to Merced corridor on double tracks, the biggest impact on train traffic will be intermodal operations that employ placing truck trailers on railroad cars.
Assuming trains don’t get any longer, both train and truck traffic connected with intermodal operations at the Union Pacific Railroad intermodal yard nestled between Manteca and Lathrop as well as the Santa Fe Railroad intermodal yard some 10 miles northeast of Manteca will more than double by 2040 based on assumptions in the draft plan.
The Union Pacific intermodal facility that will directly impact traffic movements in Lathrop and Manteca has been approved for expansion to allow it to “lift”  — remove and place truck trailers on specially designed railroad flat cars — or some 270,000 containers a year. At build-out that number will reach 730,000 lifts. That represents almost tripling the number of trucks entering and leaving the Roth Road operation.
The UP move is expected to increase the demand for truck transportation in the area plus make the immediate community — Manteca and Lathrop particularly — even more attractive to firms that are doing more and more cross-country shipping by rail.
The average daily truck trips to and from the UP facility would go from 954 today to 2,186 at complete build-out. It would mean the average number of trucks per hour leaving or departing the intermodal facility would go from 39.75 every hour to 91. Weekend traffic is 5 to 10 percent of work day traffic. Monday would be the heaviest day for truck movement at build-out with 2,585 trips compared to 1,056 in early 2011.
UP spokesmen have pointed out that the facility expansion ultimately will reduce truck traffic on major freeways as one freight train moving trailer containers does the work of 280 long-distance trucks. That, however, will not be the case on local roads.
The additional freight and passenger rail traffic impacts will be felt by Manteca drivers given the city has 10 at-grade crossings.
The statewide rail vision can be found at The public comment period runs through Dec. 11.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email