Senate Bill 1 Creates Opportunity for Caltrain Improvements


Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the landmark statewide transportation funding legislation signed into law last year, is already providing Caltrain with funding necessary to improve the popular regional rail service. Today, the California Department of Transportation announced that it will award $2.5 million to Caltrain from the new State Rail Assistance Grant program created by SB 1. Caltrain expects to receive close to another $4 million from this new program next year.

The program is just one of several programs expected to result in additional investment in the Caltrain system. Caltrain has also applied for $630 million from the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) to maximize the potential of the Caltrain Electrification project to expand capacity on the system’s overcrowded trains. SB 1 also increases funding that Caltrain receives through the State Transit Assistance program to support the system’s operating and capital needs. For the next year, Caltrain is expected to receive an additional $5 million in State Transit Assistance. 

Of the $2.5 million awarded, $500,000 will go to fund Caltrain’s Bike Parking Management Plan, $1 million will be used to maintain and rehabilitate the system’s rail cars and $1 million will add new crossover tracks near the middle of the corridor to enhance operational and schedule flexibility.

If the TIRCP grant request is successful, the investment will maximize the benefits of the Caltrain Electrification project by expediting the full conversion of the Caltrain fleet to electric trains and will make Wi-Fi available to riders, a long-requested customer amenity that will also facilitate more efficient train operations and communications.

Funding currently available to support Caltrain Electrification ensures that 75 percent of Caltrain’s fleet will consist of new high-performance electric trains when the service launches in 2022, but the other 25 percent would continue to be diesel trains. If Caltrain’s full grant request is received, the investment would cover the cost of fully converting the system’s fleet to eight-car electric trains, an improvement that would increase Caltrain’s seated capacity by at least 21 percent, depending on train configurations.

The grant request would also extend station platforms to accommodate the longer eight-car trains.

Caltrain Electrification is a key component of the Caltrain Modernization Program that will electrify the Caltrain corridor from San Francisco’s 4th and King Station to approximately the Tamien Station in San Jose, and convert diesel-hauled trains to Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains. The Electrification Project will improve Caltrain system performance, enable more frequent and/or faster train service, and reduce long-term environmental impact by reducing noise, improving regional air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


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 enjoyed five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, surpassing more than 65,000 average weekday riders. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad celebrated 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the system, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.

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