CTC votes to release $39.8m to advance Caltrain modernization project

CTC votes to release $39.8m to advance Caltrain modernization project

In the first major funding milestone to advance Caltrain electrification from the High Speed Rail ‘early investment’ program, the California Transportation Commission today voted to release $39.8 million in allocations for critical work to advance the Caltrain Modernization Program and prepare the corridor for a future blended system with California High Speed Rail. 

The funding will be used to further design work for Caltrain’s advanced signal system project known as the Communications Based Overlay Signal System with Positive Train Control (CBOSS PTC).

Improved safety is one of the key features of the new signal system.  The project includes Positive Train Control (PTC), which prevents train to train collisions, enforces speed restrictions and provides protection to workers on the right of way throughout the Caltrain system.

The project is an essential component of electrification of the corridor and is necessary to achieve the performance advantages available in an electrified system. The advanced signal system will allow for increases in the number of trains per hour operating on the corridor and will help Caltrain meet growing ridership demands.  It also potentially has the capability to reduce gate downtime per train, which is important in communities where there are multiple grade crossings in high traffic areas.

“With today’s vote by the CTC, Caltrain can continue on track to meeting its commitment to bring a cleaner, quieter, faster and/or more frequent service to the corridor by 2019 and take more cars off the region’s roads and highways,” said Adrienne J. Tissier, chair of Caltrain’s Joint Powers Board.  “The advanced signal system will play a key role in improving the efficiency of the trains and will allow Caltrain to safely provide more service to more stations.”

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The system, which costs $231 million, is fully interoperable with freight traffic using the Caltrain corridor and future High Speed Rail trains.  It also meets the Federal Railroad Administration’s requirements to install PTC by 2015, which is why it is essential that the funds be allocated now.

The advanced signal system will also provide some important advantages during the installation of electrification that will enable Caltrain to maintain rail operations and support faster, more efficient service in a safe work environment.

Modernization
The advanced signal system is one of three key components of the modernization program, which also includes the implementation of electrification and the purchase of electric-multiple unit vehicles.  Modernizing the corridor will reduce emissions by up to 90 percent, provide faster and/or more frequent service and will prepare the system for shared use with High Speed Rail in the future.  Electrification of the system is also expected to substantially reduce Caltrain’s operating cost, but will not eliminate the need for a dedicated funding source. 

The total cost of the Caltrain Modernization Program is $1.5 billion.  State legislators voted to include $706 million in funding for the modernization project in the High Speed Rail budget, earlier this year.  That money combined with other local, regional and federal funding sources provides full funding for the program.

From Stakeholders:

“This is a turning point in the history of Caltrain. From this point forward, change will accelerate so that by 2019 we will have an ultra-modern, electric, train system to serve our 21st century economy. We need to invest in infrastructure like Caltrain to remain competitive globally. Without these types of changes, workers are stuck in traffic instead of inventing the next software program, and employers are stuck in limbo waiting for the freeways to clear.  I am very pleased that the federal government worked closely with Caltrain to make this project possible.” – U.S Representative Jackie Speier (CA-12)

“It’s an historic time for Caltrain and the Peninsula. Early state and federal investment in the Caltrain modernization program has put us one step closer to a cleaner, faster and more efficient regional rail network. It will reduce pollution and energy consumption, as well as increase ridership, boost capacity and create jobs. I’m proud to have fought for Caltrain.” – U.S. Representative Anna G. Eshoo (CA-14)

“Caltrain’s Modernization program will reduce cost, lower greenhouse emissions, and increase service, ensuring that Caltrain will continue to effectively serve the needs of the Peninsula for years to come.” – California Senator Leland Y. Yee, Ph.D. (D-8)

“I am thrilled with this first step towards realizing a long held dream of our region – the modernization of Caltrain.  The very future of Caltrain is dependent on achieving this dream.  Electrification will ease the annual struggle to maintain this critical regional resource, it will provide better service at a reduced environmental impact, and it will help contain and reduce operating costs for decades to come.” – California Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-21)

“Today we celebrate the first step toward the long-awaited electrification of Caltrain, which will be completed by 2019. This project will take cars off the road, create local jobs, lead to more frequent Caltrain service, and reduce emissions.” – California Assemblyman Jerry Hill, (D-19)