New High-Speed Rail Plan Approved, Includes Pact to Electrify Caltrain
April 12, 2012 Update
In another unanimous decision, the Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MTC and other Northern California transportation partners that would electrify the popular Caltrain commuter train from San Jose to San Francisco. The MOU, which was approved by MTC on March 28 (see item below) calls for local and regional entities to provide funding for just over half the $1.5 billion agreement. The Authority would provide $706 million from 2008 Prop 1A bond monies.
The state Legislature still needs to vote on whether to start building the high-speed rail line. A vote is expected in June. If the plan goes forward, construction could begin soon, and electric trains could be speeding up and down the Peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose by 2020. The plan envisions the electrified Caltrain line connecting with the rest of the high-speed system about 10 years later.
Landmark Agreement Puts Caltrain, High-Speed Rail on Fast Track
The MOU — between and among MTC, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain), the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the city of San Jose, the City and County of San Francisco, and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority — aims to improve, enhance and expand the integration of local/regional and high-speed rail systems. The MOU also targets cost-effective near-term solutions in areas that share existing commuter rail facilities to reduce both the costs and the environmental impacts of the planned statewide high-speed rail system. The MOU:
The MOU also proposes a $1.5 billion funding plan with a mix of local, regional, state, and federal dollars to pay for the electrification and advance signal system projects needed for the so-called blended service that would accommodate both electrified Caltrain operations and long-distance high-speed rail trains. Of this amount, roughly half, or $706 million, is expected to come from statewide high-speed rail sources. The remaining funds would include local sales taxes, Proposition 1B transit bond funds, Federal Transit Administration funds, bridge tolls and Bay Area Air Quality Management District funds.
Caltrain electrification has had broad public support for many years. The project is included in the expenditure plans for half-cent transportation sales tax measures approved by voters in Santa Clara County in 2000 and San Mateo County in 2004. Caltrain electrification also was identified as a high priority project in the San Francisco Prop K Expenditure Plan approved in November 2003. The electrification project and the switch-over to lightweight electric-multiple units also is included in the Regional Transit Expansion Program approved by MTC as Resolution 3434 in 2001, and was further analyzed and included in the Regional Rail Plan adopted by the Commission in 2007
The Advanced Signal System project is another foundation for improvements along the Peninsula rail corridor, necessary not only to meet safety requirements, but also to operate the blended Caltrain/high-speed service and to control train traffic during all future construction work and upgrades.
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