For six years, Muni trains have been running through the Twin Peaks tunnel well below their former top speed of 50 mph due to worn-out tracks, which put trains in danger of derailment, according to the SF Municipal Transportation Agency.
At an SFMTA Board of Directors meeting today, Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said the tracks had finally been replaced between Castro and West Portal stations, and that the speed limit on the Eureka curve, which approaches Castro Station, was raised from 15 mph to 25 mph. Reiskin said the SFMTA will evaluate whether or not train speeds on the curve could be raised further, but that the higher limit wouldn’t exceed 30 mph. Along most of the Twin Peaks tunnel, train speeds are capped at 35 mph.
Director Cheryl Brinkman said she and her husband noticed the speedier trip over the weekend. “I’m sure that’s going to be much appreciated by the passengers,” she said.
The issue was raised at an SFMTA Board meeting in late 2009, when former board member Cameron Beach (who has since passed away) grilled agency staff on the lack of progress getting the K, L, and M metro lines back up to their historic speeds. In response, the agency said it was studying if and when trains could run at 50 mph again, but didn’t provide a timeline. Nat Ford, who was head of the SFMTA at the time, said increasing speeds could also increase train congestion at West Portal.
We have a request in with the SFMTA about whether the agency plans to raise train speeds along other sections of the tunnel.