The Network Approach, Track Layout

The California High Speed Rail Authority approved funding for Caltrain electrification and new grade separations on Tuesday morning. This is CHSRA’s contribution to a $2 billion plan that will improve the Caltrain passenger rail corridor, allowing for a mix of local, express and high speed trains along the tracks. Constructing a system where high-performance trains use both high-speed and conventional tracks is referred to as the blended service model or the network approach and it has been implemented successfully in countries around the world.

When designing a rail corridor using the network approach, it is critical to implement an efficient track layout. The track layout with high-speed trains on the outside and conventional in the middle provides an important benefit. This configuration allows for the most operational flexibility when dealing with service disruptions on any of the four tracks (as shown in the image above).

This track layout would also include a central island platform instead of platforms on each side of the tracks. Having a single platform makes finding your place to board simpler and also means you will not have to switch platforms when transferring between local and high-speed trains. One shared platform is typically twice the size of a standard platform and it also makes it easier and cheaper to provide all the platform amenities, such as ticket vending machines, benches, shelters, etc.

Some commuter rail lines were constructed with island platforms and additional exterior ROW, with the purpose of leaving room for future express or high-speed trains. The commuter rail corridor for the Metra Electric in Chicago was designed in this fashion. CrossRail Chicago
proposes taking advantage of the existing track layout and ROW to build additional tracks that could add capacity to the line. This additional capacity would allow for more frequent local service, express trains and provide a gateway for high-speed trains to enter Chicago’s Union


Dylan Hayward
Program Manager

For an in-depth look at why island platforms are ideal for blended service please click here.

Last Week At MHSRA:

Our Executive Director Richard Harnish was featured in an article that detailed MHSRA’s vision for high-speed rail in the Midwest. Click the link below and let us know what you think!

Alt Transit: High Speed Rail for the Midwest

Articles We Enjoyed:

This Map Shows How Radically a High-Speed Train System Would Improve Travel in the US

Outside of the Northeast, Amtrak Plays an Overlooked Role in Connecting Communities
“More than 8 percent of passengers – a bit more than
2.5 million people – say they would not travel without Amtrak service.”

California High Speed Rail – A Sustainable Transportation Solution

Both Parties Claim Support for Investing in Infrastructure. But How Will They Do It?
A detailed look at how both parties plan to invest in our nation’s infrastructure!

Upcoming Events:

2016 MHSRA Annual Fall Luncheon

Keynote Speaker: Marco Stegher, Americas Area Manager, Italferr S.p.A.

When:      Friday, September 16, Noon-1:30 PM (Check-in begins at 11:30 AM)

Where:     Maggiano’s Little Italy, 516 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Cost:        Regular Ticket: $55     Student Ticket: $20

Register Here

Dylan Hayward
Program Manager
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625

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