Preliminary Exploration of Concepts
After initial data gathering, Link21 began development of potential train network improvements in early 2022 as part of the Project Identification phase activities. The California State Rail Plan as well as multiple plans and projects to improve rail travel in Northern California make up the megaregional context within which Link21 is being developed. Current work is primarily focused on evaluating concepts that are based on four building blocks: markets, service, train technology, and infrastructure. Concepts include a new train crossing between Oakland and San Francisco, as well as service and infrastructure improvements for both BART and Regional Rail. These potential solutions were initially identified through data gathering, technical studies, a market analysis, and public and stakeholder input and aim to provide riders with a variety of benefits such as:
- Connections to new communities and destinations
- Potential for fewer and more convenient transfers
- Improved travel time
- More reliable train travel between the Bay Area and the Megaregion
In fall 2022 we shared some example concepts, and after receiving feedback, we came back in summer of 2023 with six concepts which included two concepts with BART tracks in the new crossing and four concepts with Regional Rail (standard gauge) tracks in the new crossing. Analysis and the evaluation process as established in the Business Case criteria, considers the regions population, evolving workforce needs and travel patterns, air quality and climate change impacts, equity, and more. We are committed to identifying innovative solutions for better connecting and building upon the existing train network and service for future generations. Link21 is working to address unmet potential for transbay train travel, create better transportation solutions, and make riding the train a better, more equitable experience.
A Decision on the Horizon
In early to mid-2024, the Link21 Program will recommend a preliminary Project with options that identifies which train technology (BART or Regional Rail) will operate in the new crossing. This recommendation will be provided to the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (Capitol Corridor) Boards of Directors for consideration and decision. Following this crossing decision, the concept options, including station and service improvements and infrastructure to support those improvements, will continue to be assessed working closely with key agency partners and community stakeholders. Refined options will evolve into the identification of a Project or Alternative(s) to advance into Environmental Review.
What We've Learned – BART and Regional Rail Networks Can Work Better Together with Link21
From our ongoing analysis of concepts, we have learned a number of things. First, we now understand that a single two track crossing that serves either BART or Regional Rail meets the travel demand in 2050 and beyond. Another two track crossing with the other technology could still be built in the future but will not be part of our current planning effort.
Regardless of whether BART or Regional Rail technology trains are used in the new crossing, Link21 could:
- Meet travel demand between San Francisco & Oakland by 2050
- Allow for uninterrupted transbay rail service if one crossing goes out of service
- Improve service reliability and transbay redundancy with two crossings
- Enable increased train frequency that can grow ridership — must be balanced with operating costs & larger fleet
- Provide benefits to priority populations across the network in different ways
- Reduce traffic on Bay Bridge
- Create improved / new transfers between BART and Regional Rail to save travel time
- Provide additional urban | metro service (like BART today frequent and fast, timely)
- Enable Extended Hours on BART (Requires policy decision/action by BART Board)
Below are two maps that visually represent the existing and potential future planned infrastructure for the rail network with proposed improvement options as part of Link21. The map on the left represents a potential second BART crossing and the map on the right a potential new Regional Rail crossing. Link21 concepts enhance rider experience but also offer different benefits and tradeoffs that you can explore below. See additional concepts at the bottom of this page.
Example Map of BART in the Crossing
BART-gauge tracks in the new crossing will provide more service within the existing BART network.
Example Map of Regional Rail in the Crossing
Regional Rail or standard-gauge tracks will connect rail on the San Francisco Peninsula to the East Bay and larger Megaregion through the Regional Rail network.
More About Link21 Concepts
Concepts demonstrate new tracks (thick lines) connecting to existing tracks (thin lines), transfer opportunities, new potential stations, and improved existing stations. Each concept allows for a variety of service improvements to transform future train travel.
BART Train Technology in the Crossing
Concept A Regional Rail Salesforce Transit Center via Alameda
- Offers both Urban | Metro and Intercity | Express service on Regional Rail tracks
- Includes a Central Oakland connection to BART resulting in additional travel time savings between communities along the Capitol Corridor route from the Sacramento Area to East Bay and Downtown San Francisco
- Creates new train connection in West Oakland (transfer between Regional Rail & multiple BART lines
- Provides new access to train service in Alameda
- Serves the Salesforce Transit Center, offering riders an easy trip to the Peninsula/Silicon Valley