Caltrain receives first funding step in quest for electrified railway

S.F. Examiner File PhotoBy electrifying the tracks between San Jose and San Francisco

Nearly $40 million in state funds were approved Thursday for Caltrain’s positive train control system, a key step in the transit agency’s ongoing quest to electrify its railway.

The funds were approved by the California Transportation Commission and will be used for projects designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, enforce speed restrictions and improve worker safety, according to Caltrain.

A total of $39.8 million was approved Thursday, the first step in Caltrain’s $1.46 billion plan to electrify its train system by 2019. The positive train control system is a necessary precursor for the upcoming electrification project.

By electrifying the tracks between San Jose and San Francisco, Caltrain will be able to run faster and more frequent service and cut down on noise and air pollution — factors designed to make the chronically cash-strapped agency more financially self-sufficient. Electrification also will enable the tracks to sustain high-speed rail trains when they arrive in the region, which is expected to occur around 2030.

The Gilroy-San Jose portion of Caltrain is not part of current electrification plans. Electrifying that route would be contingent upon negotiations with Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the tracks.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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