Caltrain is on the cusp of accomplishing a 25-year-old vision to modernize the corridor and replace the system's aging diesel equipment with high performance electric trains that will increase capacity and improve service on one of the nation's fastest growing commuter rail corridors.
For decades, lack of sufficient funding had put this vision out of reach, but over the last several years Caltrain has worked with our local, regional, state and federal partners to make significant progress and overcome tremendous challenges.
Ballot measures have been passed, funding agreements have been signed, legislation has been approved, lawsuits have been won and contracts have been awarded.
Now, a new challenge must be overcome. The Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project hinges on execution of a $647 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Core Capacity program that will be matched with over $1.3 billion in secured local, regional, and state commitments.
Since 2005, Caltrain ridership has quickly outpaced the system’s capacity as commuters have increasingly relied on the service to connect to some of the world’s most innovative and fastest-growing companies. Today, Caltrain provides a much needed alternative to the heavily congested U.S. 101 freeway, but the system’s peak hour service is over maximum capacity, with many trains exceeding 125 percent of available seats.
The Electrification Project is an opportunity to increase the capacity of the system and transform the way Peninsula residents experience transit. Caltrain is already the mobility option of choice for over 65,000 daily riders. By connecting our communities with more service to more stations and reducing travel times, electrification will make Caltrain even more attractive, equipping the system to accommodate more riders and providing significant relief to drivers on our busy local streets and roads and our increasingly congested freeways.
Last year, Caltrain awarded contracts to advance work on the project, but construction cannot start without the investment that is awaiting approval by the new Administration. Time is of the essence. For the project to move forward as planned, the Administration must approve the grant prior to March 1. Any delay would result in costly penalties and cost increases that may threaten the viability of the project.
We are at a critical juncture in Caltrain’s 150-year history. Electrification is the most transformative opportunity this corridor has ever undertaken and it offers unique economic, environmental and mobility benefits that will have an impact not just in our region but across the country. Federal investment in this project will create over 9,600 jobs here in the Bay Area and spread throughout the nation in places like Salt Lake City, UT, Jacksonville, FL; Richmond, VA; Hudson, WI; Littleton, CO and more. It will create over $2.5 billion in economic value and address one of the region’s principal barriers to economic growth by eliminating over 619,000 daily vehicle miles from the region’s roadways.
These are some of the reasons that members of the Bay Area’s Congressional delegation and our region’s largest employers are pushing back strongly against calls by some to deny funding for the project. With their help, and support from a broad coalition of support from around the state and the nation, we look forward to providing the communities we serve with the rail system they deserve.
Jim HartnettExecutive Director, Caltrain
Caltrain has been planning for the electrification project since the 1990s and the PCEP has received broad support from the business community, labor and environmental groups, regional transportation advocacy groups, local, state, and federal elected officials.
In September 2016, Caltrain awarded two contracts:
to a contractor to install the infrastructure to electrify the corridor
to a contractor to build and deliver high-performance electric commuter rail trains.
A Limited Notice to Proceed (LNTP) has been issued to those contractors to advance design of the project. A Full Notice to Proceed (NTP) must be issued by March 1, 2017, in order to maintain the terms of the contracts and avoid costly penalties and project delays. Before an NTP can be issued, PCEP must receive the $647 million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Core Capacity grant program.
Caltrain has secured all local, regional, state, and Federal non-Core Capacity funds for the project. The only funding that is needed is $647m from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Core Capacity program.
Over the last two years, Caltrain and the other PCEP funding partners have worked with FTA to meet all of the Core Capacity FFGA requirements to secure the $647m grant. The project has already received $73m in previous appropriated Core Capacity funds and the FFGA would allow Caltrain to access those funds in addition to future Core Capacity funds.
On Wednesday, January 18, the US Department of Transportation sent the FFGA to Congress for the mandatory 30-day review period. It will be eligible for a signature by FTA on Friday, February 17.
The Project’s path forward is contingent on the FTA FFGA. In order to maintain the terms of the contracts and avoid costly penalties and project delays, the FFGA must be signed by March 1, 2017.
Link to FAQs about the project: https://www.caltrain.com/Assets/Caltrain+Modernization+Program/Electrification+Documents/PCEP+FAQ.pdf
Link to the jobs that will be created by this project: https://www.caltrain.com/Assets/Caltrain+Modernization+Program/PCEPJobAcrossUSApdf.pdf