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March 20, 2012

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fred

Caltrain to get electrification
March 23, 2012, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff

The Caltrain corridor will be electrified nearly a decade ahead of schedule as the California High-Speed Rail Authority has agreed to split the local project’s nearly $1.5 billion cost.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has cut a deal with the rail authority to invest matching local funds to get the corridor electrified by 2020, 10 years ahead of the original time estimate as shown in the rail authority’s business plan.

“It is great news for Caltrain. It is a huge opportunity that will bring the area immediate benefits,” said Caltrain spokesman Seamus Murphy.

Even if the statewide project somehow ultimately falls apart, the early investment by the rail authority will ensure Caltrain does get electrified, he said.

The memorandum of understanding the MTC approved still needs to be approved by the rail authority board. The rail authority is also set to release an updated business plan at the end of the month that Caltrain officials hope will focus on the “blended” system proposal that will keep the project essentially within Caltrain’s current right of way.

Early designs on the Peninsula for the project showed mostly an aerial four-track viaduct needed to accommodate both Caltrain and high-speed trains that were faced with fierce opposition.

Once the system is electrified, Caltrain will be able to operate lighter-weight electric vehicles compared to the existing diesel trains on which the agency currently relies.

Caltrain touts electrification as the agency’s savior since it will be faster, cleaner and quieter with more frequent service to more stations.

Caltrain expects significantly more riders to hop on its trains once the corridor is electrified. In recent years, the agency has struggled with a nearly $30 million annual structural deficit that has been closed with regional support and by deferring capital improvement projects. It lacks a dedicated source of funding and relies on San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties for financial support.

The high-speed rail authority has pledged about $706 million for Caltrain electrification from Proposition 1A bond money, a $9 billion bond measure approved by voters in 2008.

The MTC will set aside about $467 million in current and future Federal Transit Administration funds and another $11 million to rail toll funds for the Caltrain electrification project.

“Modernizing Caltrain has and will continue to be one of my highest priorities for our region. It is the spine of our transportation system and it must be brought into the 21st century. Now the regional agreement to fully fund the electrification of Caltrain and positive train control will make this a reality,” U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, wrote in a statement.

Eshoo, state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, first proposed the “blended” system early in 2011.

That plan has since been embraced by Caltrain. Caltrain has even requested the rail authority take out a four-track proposal for the Peninsula in its next business plan.

Caltrain is currently assessing the feasibility of various blended system alternatives to determine what specific infrastructure improvements will eventually be needed to support high-speed rail and how they can be designed to minimize impacts on surrounding communities.

Passing tracks, about nine miles, will have to be constructed somewhere along the corridor so high-speed trains can bypass local Caltrain commuter trains.

The rail authority is set to start construction on the Central Valley section of the statewide project but in recent months has also looked at funding construction projects on the system’s two bookends in San Francisco and Los Angeles.


http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?type=lnews&title=Caltrain to get electrification&id=231064

jennifer

It's very simple, Caltrain has only one goal in mind--electrification. By itself, it is not unworthy, it's how were are ending up there that is problematic. Though they like to claim otherwise, Caltrain is not really equipped in their MOU position with HSRA to advocate for needs of the various Peninsula communities. MTC, even less so.

At the end of the day, It will be Caltrain's service to the local stations that stands to suffer while HSR attempts to make ends meet (literally) on their own project. Grade crossings?? Don't count on them. With the proposed budget, there is only funding available for 5 or 6 crossings in SM County. I'm having a hard time seeing this "deal" as a positive, but that is certainly is the spin most of the politicians are putting on it, though much to their credit, not Burlingame's.

hillsider

Disgusting. Caltrain should be ashamed of themselves. And they will likely spend a good deal of taxpayer monies in legal fees defending the indefensible.

fred


MTC approves Caltrain electrification plan
Michael Cabanatuan

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/28/BAER1NRJTU.DTL#ixzz1qXitLZDO

jennifer

And from the above:

"While the agreement supports the extension of Caltrain from its station at Fourth and King streets in San Francisco underground to the under-construction Transbay Terminal, elimination of 40 street-level railroad crossings on the Peninsula and construction of high-speed train depots in Millbrae and San Jose's Diridon Station, it does not include funding for those projects."

(So, let's see, I think I've heard there are 40 grade crossings, yet Caltrain spilled the beans and said there is only money for maybe 5 or 6 grade seps in SM County, so that means ......drum roll.......ROAD CLOSURES. I sure wouldn't count on a reopened Broadway Station, either.)

This is why the so-called 'input process' is always rushed. There are so many flaws with each different twist and turn, It's better not to let people have too much time to THINK.

jennifer

Buried in the SM Times today (Sat.) a blurb about how Gov. Brown's administration has "lowered the projected cost to built HSR by $30 million-- to $68 million"--wow, now that's a bargain!

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