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Regional Rail Plan

 The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Caltrain, BART, California High-Speed Rail Authority, in collaboration with a coalition of rail passenger and freight operators, regional partners, and rail stakeholders, prepared a comprehensive Regional Rail Plan for the Bay Area, as required by the voters in the Regional Measure 2 (RM2) Traffic Congestion Relief Program.  MTC adopted the Regional Rail Plan – Final Report on September 26, 2007.

Study Purpose

The Regional Rail Plan examined ways to incorporate passenger trains into existing rail systems, improve connections to other trains and transit, expand the regional rapid transit network, increase rail capacity and coordinate rail investment around transit-friendly communities and businesses. The plan included a detailed analysis of potential high-speed rail routes between the Bay Area and the Central Valley for the Rail Authority’s environmental review of the proposed rail lines.  Overall, the plan looked at improvements and extensions of railroad, rapid transit, and high-speed rail services for the near (5 to 10 years), intermediate (10 to 25 years), and long-terms (beyond 25 years).

Study Structure

Staff from MTC, BART, Caltrain and the California High-Speed Rail Authority managed the day-to-day study development of the Regional Rail Plan. As required in RM2, a steering committee consisting of regional rail passenger operators, freight railroad operators, county congestion management agencies provided direction during the plan development. The steering committee served as the forum for coordinated review and comment on the plan prior to its submission to MTC for approval. Neighboring regional agencies helped us to broaden our scope and consider interregional rail travel and connectivity beyond the nine-county Bay Area borders.  An advisory group of academics, environmentalists, and business people also offered their technical expertise.

Study Scope

The Regional Rail Plan study effort was divided into three phases.

  • Phase 1: Vision – Brainstorm possible extensions of existing services and new rail routes
  • Phase 2: Vision-Based Alternatives Development & Analysis – Identify distinct conceptual alternatives and conduct analysis that takes into account engineering feasibility, cost, ridership, and operational, environmental and implementation issues
  • Phase 3 – Draft/Final Plan – Prepare report identifying regional and high-speed rail extensions and services for near, intermediate and long-terms


Study Status

After almost two years of analysis, stakeholder involvement, and public outreach, MTC, BART, and Caltrain unveiled a blueprint for expanding the region's network of rail lines in early August 2007. MTC's Planning Committee and Commission approved the Regional Rail Plan at its September 14 and 26 meetings, respectively.

Related Study

The California High-Speed Rail Authority, with the Federal Rail Administration, has prepared a programmatic EIR/EIS that further examines the San Francisco Bay Area to Central Valley region. This EIR/EIS generally describes the environmental impacts of a proposed High-Speed Train system within the broad corridor between and including the Altamont Pass and Pacheco Pass. Additional information can be found at the California High-Speed Rail Authority's website,

For more information, contact Ashley Nguyen at 510/817.5809.