Archived - Rail Corridor Safety Improvements

Temporary fencing near the intersection of Alma Street and Everett Avenue.

Vegetation Removal and Fencing Work on Rail Corridor Timeline

  • September 1-15 – Vegetation removal on Homer Avenue Tunnel on Alma Street will continue north to south until complete.
  • September 3-15 – Temporary fence installation on Alma Street will continue until complete.

Traffic and Parking Updates

  • September 1-15, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Certain sections of the right southbound lane of Alma Street may be closed.
  • September 3-4 and September 8-10 - No parking on east side of Alma Street between Palo Alto and Lytton Avenues while temporary fence is installed.

The Palo Alto City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding on August 24 between the City and Caltrain regarding the funding and schedule of the vegetation removal, fence installation and new camera technology that is part of the City’s efforts to limit access to the rail corridor.  The agreement sets out an updated timeline and schedule for the work which is set to begin on September 1.

Caltrain will be installing 8’ welded wire fencing between Oregon Expressway and San Francisquito Creek on the east side of the corridor at a cost of $420,000 (paid for by Caltrain).  In addition, the City has asked Caltrain to install additional 18” three-cable angled winglets on top of fencing on the east side of the corridor between San Antonio and San Francisquito Creek to make the fences more difficult to climb at a cost of $108,000 (paid for by the City).

Vegetation removal needed to install the new fencing will be done by Caltrain’s vendor with new fencing to be installed as quickly as possible following the removal.  The City’s landscape architect and arborists are working closely with the vendor to ensure as much vegetation screening as possible is maintained. The work is expected to begin on September 1, and it is estimated that both the vegetation and fencing installation will be completed by the end of October.  The City will pay the $168,000 cost for vegetation removal.

The City is piloting an intrusion detection camera system that uses thermal infrared cameras that can detect objects via heat sensors more than a mile away.

The pilot cameras will be installed at the Meadow Avenue crossing.  The cameras have technology that is able to distinguish humans from animals and other objects down the corridor, along the right-of-way and at intersections. 

An automatic warning will go to Palo Alto Police 9-1-1 dispatch for response who will notify Caltrain.

Since this is a pilot, there will be no cost to the city during the trial evaluation period (a minimum of 60 days).  The cost to permanently install the system is $172,000.


In addition to limiting physical access to the tracks, the City is a leader in the restructure of Project Safety Net, the community collaborative that was formed in 2009 to focus on suicide prevention and youth well-being. PSN is a multidisciplinary group of individuals and organizations that in addition to the City including the Palo Alto  Unified School District, mental and physical health professionals, youth serving agencies, parents, the PTA, and the faith community, among others, working together on suicide prevention and youth well-being efforts in  Palo Alto. 

The PSN plan includes education, prevention, and intervention strategies that together provide a safety net for youth and teens in Palo Alto, and defines our community’s teen suicide prevention efforts. As a collaborative, the efforts of PSN are seen most fully in the work of our partner agencies who work on suicide prevention and youth well-being on a daily basis.  To learn more about teen suicide prevention or PSN, visit For a list of frequently asked questions, visit

The City has been contracting for track security at four locations (Charleston, Meadow, California Avenue station and Churchill Avenue) during the hours when trains are running (approx. 20 plus hours a day).

The contract with the current vendor has been extended until the beginning of 2016.  PAPD, who now administers the contract, will be issuing a new Request for Proposal to reflect future needs.

Community Forum Information, July 27, 2015

Download the PowerPoint presentation of the community informational forum.

The City of Palo Alto hosted a community informational forum on Monday, July 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the El Palo Alto Room at Mitchell Park Community Center to provide an overview of the three primary elements related to what is termed "means restriction"' that refers to efforts to limit or reduce access to the rail corridor. Research has shown that “means restriction” is an important part of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention.

As part of this effort, the City is working with Caltrain to put in place enhanced fencing along the east side of the corridor, as well as the necessary vegetation removal to accommodate the new fencing.  Additionally, the City is piloting an intrusion detection camera system that uses thermal infrared cameras and sensors that are capable of distinguishing between humans and other objects down the corridor for approximately a mile, along the right-of-way and at intersections.  

These topics were covered in detail at the forum:

  • The role of “means restriction”
  • Fencing installation and enhancements
  • Vegetation and brush removal
  • Pilot intrusion camera system
  • Work sequencing and timeline
  • Question and answer session

In addition, information tables will be set up if community members have additional questions or would like more detailed information on areas including:

  •  Public works/vegetation/fencing
  • Project Safety Net – community collaborative
  • Public Safety – Track Watch, intrusion camera detection system

Representatives from the Palo Alto School District and Caltrain were present and answered questions.

In addition to these efforts to limit physical access to the rail corridor, the City is working in conjunction with Project Safety Net (PSN), a community collaborative that was formed in response to the teen suicide crisis in Palo Alto that began in 2009.  Visit for more information.