That agreement outlines how these agencies will cooperate on building the high speed rail in phases. The agreement is clear that:
- - Caltrain will maintain ownership
- - Infrastructure for HSR will be built alongside while Caltrain continues operation
- - Caltrain and HSR will share tracks on a 4 track mainline
- - HSRA will support Caltrain's effort to electrify and improve the signal system so as to prepare the rail corridor for eventual HSR construction and operation.
Some of the issues like funding and liability are not addressed in this agreement, however it does recognized these issues. Under the agreement, a program director would be appointed jointly to oversee engineering and design consultants for the corridor. The program director would report to Caltrain's and CAHSRA's executive director.
What caused concerns for Palo Alto is the vision for a 4 track right of way. Fearing that HSR would "divide" their community, Palo Alto is pursuing options such as putting HSR on a different alignment, putting HSR underground, and ending HSR in San Jose.
Regardless of what their fears are, the agreement is essential for Caltrain and High Speed Rail, and would allow both agencies to take advantage of new funding opportunities through Prop 1A and the Stimulus package. Despite the vision of a 4 tracks right of way, the agreement would be beneficial to Palo Alto and other cities because these cities would have to work with a single program director, rather than a local and a state agency.
The 4 track statement in the MOU is a vision. It is not something that can or will be done in the next few years even if there are no funding constraints. Because Caltrain operation would also have to continue, that would have a greater constraints on alignment, profile choices, and construction timings. Even with the agreement, there will be many more questions on how will HSR be built on an active passenger railroad.