Sierra Club Names Caltrain Modernization to List of "Best Projects"

Sierra Club Names Caltrain Modernization to List of "Best Projects"

In its annual list of the country’s 50 best, and worst, transportation projects the Sierra Club is applauding the electrification of the Caltrain corridor for its many important environmental benefits. 


The Sierra Club’s local Loma Prieta Chapter nominated corridor electrification for consideration pointing to a reduction in the state’s dependence on oil and a reduction in the region’s emissions as two key benefits the project will help California achieve.


Caltrain’s Modernization Program was awarded more than $700 million from the state high speed rail program, when the legislature approved the budget over the summer.  That funding combined with other local, regional and federal resources will allow Caltrain to electrify the corridor by 2019. 


The $1.5 billion project will give the region a faster, cleaner, quieter system through electrification of the corridor, the purchase of electric vehicles and the installation of an advanced signal system, known as CBOSS PTC.  An important feature of electrification is that it will reduce corridor emissions by more than 90 percent. 


“Modernizing and electrifying this corridor provides the region with a cleaner, more efficient transportation system, giving riders improved mobility options,” said Mark Simon, Caltrain’s executive officer of Public Affairs.  “We’re thrilled that the Sierra Club, one of the nation’s leading environmental organizations is drawing attention to the benefits to be gained in air quality and in getting more cars off the road.”


Electrification also will help Caltrain address its ongoing financial problems. Not only are electric trains less expensive to operate, but modern, electric Caltrain service will attract more riders, which will bring more revenue while reducing costs.


“Electrification will cut the railroad's operating costs in half by avoiding the purchase of 4.5 million gallons of diesel fuel a year and replacing it with far cheaper and cleaner electricity,” explained Gladwyn d’Souza, Belmont Planning Commissioner and Transportation Committee chair for the Loma Prieta Chapter,  “It is exactly the kind of infrastructure we need as part of a 21st Century Transportation system that increases our transportation choices and increases our housing options by enabling transit oriented development.”


The High Speed Rail Authority provided the ‘early investment’ funding to upgrade and prepare the corridor for a future blended system.  High Speed Rail plans to share Caltrain’s tracks between San Jose and San Francisco.  Planning for the “blended system” is continuing as part of a separate process.  High Speed Rail is expected to begin operating on the Peninsula in 2029.


For more information about the Caltrain Modernization Program, please visit:


To review the Sierra Club’s full report, please visit:



About Caltrain:  

Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with limited commute service to Gilroy. Caltrain serves 50,000 riders every weekday. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad will celebrate 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2013.

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Media Contact: Jayme Ackemann, 650.508.7934