Air district board approves $20M for Caltrain electrification project


The Bay Area Air Quality Management District board on Wednesday approved $20 million in funding for a Caltrain electrification project expected to greatly reduce emissions and allow for expanded passenger service.

The funding, to be paid out in installments over the next several years, will go toward the electrification of 51 miles of track between San Francisco and San Jose and the replacement of Caltrain's 29 diesel locomotives with electric models.

The project will allow Caltrain to increase service from the current 92 trains a day to 114 a day, taking additional cars off the road, while reducing emissions by up to 97 percent by 2040, according to a report from Jack Broadbent, executive director of the air district. Caltrain also expects to reduce fuel use by an estimated 3.4 million gallons a year.

"This is one of the most significant air pollution reduction funding projects the Air District has undertaken in recent years," Mr. Broadbent said in a statement. "By replacing diesel-powered trains with electric, air quality will be substantially improved for everyone along the Peninsula.

Caltrain's board approved the final environmental impact report on the project in January and expects to call for bids from contractors later this year, with service on the electrification project set to start by 2020.

The $1.53 billion project still needs to find $430 million in additional funding. Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann said the agency is working to secure that funding from state and federal sources by later this year.

In addition, Atherton and two advocacy groups filed a lawsuit in February challenging the environmental impact report. The lawsuit claims that the report didn't adequately study the project's impact on traffic, station configurations, tree removal and electricity demand, among other issues.

Caltrain had hoped to bypass the lawsuit by asking the federal Surface Transportation Board to find the project was exempt from state environmental review requirements. However, earlier this month the board ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the project because it is limited to commuter rail operations.

Ms. Ackemann said the lawsuit was not expected to prevent the project from moving forward.

Caltrain has seen ridership, which was at 58,000 boardings a day as of February, increase 71 percent in the past five years. Projections show boardings could exceed 100,000 a day by 2040 with the new electrified system in place.

Funding for the $20 million grant to Caltrain comes from a $2 per vehicle motor vehicle registration surcharge collected by the air district.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has committed more than $700 million to the Caltrain electrification project, and the electrified system is designed to be compatible with high-speed rail. However, Ms. Ackemann said the authority will need to complete it's own environmental impact study before it can move forward with any work on the Peninsula.

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4 people like this
Posted by Shaypeanut
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 2, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Yes, I know how to raise the money. By ending CA,Three strikes for nonviolent crimes billions of tax dollars would become available. Life should not be a sentence term for property theft. See my son's story. The cost to house each inmate $65,000 a year. Stop handing tax dollars to the prison industry and put it towards the transportation. Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 2, 2015 at 8:03 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

we'd save far more money by decriminalizing drugs. Probably have to close half the prisons.

Like this comment
Posted by Srini
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Srini is a registered user.

Stop harboring and pandering to ILLEGAL aliens, and we would have enough money for just about anything we want. Plus most of our costs will go down, including housing, education, and medical care. Even though there is bound to be a firestorm of backlash to my post, this is an indisptable fact. There, now that I have said what many of you are thinking, you don't have to be afraid to put it out there.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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