Monday, July 24, 2017

Caltrain officially begins electrification project

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Caltrain officially begins electrification project Caltrain

Following years of planning and recent federal funding uncertainty, Caltrain broke ground on Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project July 21.


The ceremony was held at the Millbrae Caltrain Station and attended by California Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12), Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18) and Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), as well as state and local officials and stakeholders.

The project will electrify the Caltrain corridor between San Francisco and San Jose and will equip the corridor with high-performance electric trains that will deliver faster, more frequent service to help the system accommodate rapidly increasing ridership demand.

"Today marks the beginning of a faster, cleaner, better Caltrain, a Caltrain that will allow tens of thousands of people to travel throughout the Peninsula with ease" said Caltrain CEO Jim Hartnett. "This project will deliver the innovative and cutting-edge transit system that our communities deserve."

Caltrain says the groundbreaking celebration marks a long-awaited milestone toward a future when a modernized Caltrain connects communities with state-of-the-art transit service that reduces travel time, increases capacity and helps relieve congestion Highway 101.

The agency says the project will also reduce noise generated by Caltrain, improve local air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create thousands of jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the country.

Electrification is a long-awaited project that has been a goal for the system since 1999. In 2012, local, regional and state funding partners agreed to commit resources that were used to match a $647 million Federal Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) that was issued by the Federal Transit Administration in April 2017.

An FFGA was recommended in January 2017 following a full assessment of the project's merits. However, the decision was delayed by the Trump Administration while the 2018 budget recommendations were being developed. Because of the delay in securing the FFGA, Caltrain struck an agreement with its contractors to extend the deadline from March 1 to June 30 for the contractors to begin construction on the project. At the time of the negotiated extension, Caltrain said the additional time would likely require the utilization of up to $20 million in project contingency that otherwise would have been available for construction-related expenses in the future. Securing the federal funds for the project became part of the national political tug-of-war with Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) vowing to dissent every U.S. Department of Transportation nominees until the FFGA was honored.

Construction will take place throughout the Caltrain corridor installing the new infrastructure necessary to support an electrified system. The electrification project is expected to be completed in 2021.