Federal Grant Moves Modernization of Caltrain Corridor Forward

Federal Grant Moves Modernization of Caltrain Corridor Forward

The Federal Railroad Administration has announced the award of a $16 million cooperative agreement to the California High Speed Rail Authority for the design of a new, modernized signaling system on the Caltrain corridor between San Francisco and San Jose.

The new system, known as the Communication Based Overlay Signal System, includes safety improvements required by federal law and is the first step in the modernization of the Caltrain corridor, which is being planned to support electrified passenger rail service, including high-speed rail, between San Francisco and San Jose.

"This initial federal investment will enable Caltrain to take an important step forward in our efforts to provide Bay Area communities with a modernized, sustainable commuter rail system that is fully compatible with future high-speed rail service," said Caltrain Executive Director Mike Scanlon. "The Administration and our Congressional leaders should be applauded for recognizing the importance of optimizing safety and promoting integration with regional systems as we continue to plan a project that will transform the way Californians travel."

The project is being developed by Caltrain as part of the continuing partnership between the Peninsula rail system and the California High Speed Rail Authority to undertake projects of mutual benefit to both systems.

The new signal system will allow train movements and schedules to be coordinated more efficiently, improving the safety and reliability of all passenger rail operations that use the corridor: Caltrain, Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority. The project also will offer significant benefit to the construction and eventual operation of high-speed rail service on the Peninsula.

The overall modernization of the Caltrain system includes the electrification of the corridor and the operation of electric vehicles, which will allow the agency to deliver better, more frequent, more reliable service to a greater number of passengers on the Peninsula.

“Caltrain serves one of the most innovative regions in the world and these communities deserve to have access to a state-of-the art public transportation system,” said Caltrain Board Chair Sean Elsbernd. “There is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done before we get there, but this federal investment is a critical step along the path that leads to the transformation of the Caltrain system, and ultimately our connection to the rest of the state.”

In 2009, Caltrain became the first rail operator in the country to receive an FRA waiver that permits the operation of lighter-weight Electric-Multiple-Unit trains on the same tracks used by freight trains. CBOSS, combined with these electric vehicles, will allow Caltrain to deliver more frequent service and serve more riders. Electric vehicles are less expensive to operate than Caltrain’s existing diesel technology, so increased ridership will generate revenue that will help reduce the agency’s year-to-year structural deficits. Electrification also will result in a dramatic decrease in the emission of pollutants.

CBOSS also will incorporate Positive Train Control, required by federal law to be installed on all corridors where passenger and freight rail operations share tracks by 2015. PTC protects passengers and railroad workers by maintaining safe separations between trains, preventing train speeding and train collisions and protecting roadway workers.

Caltrain will match the federal investment with $4 million. The project’s total cost is $251 million.

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Media Contact:  Seamus Murphy, 650.508.6388