Caltrain receives US$367m in state funding to finish electrification project

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Californian commuter rail service Caltrain has announced that it is set to receive US$367m in state funding to finish its Electrification Project, scheduled to be completed in the Fall of 2024.

The funding award, which comes from California’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program’s (TIRCP) Cycle 6 Existing Project Reserve, represents the remaining funding needed to complete the project and begin running passenger electrified rail service.

Additionally, this new state funding will allow Caltrain to maintain operations funding, identified as a possible means to finishing the project. This strengthens Caltrain’s financial outlook and delays a potential “fiscal cliff,” which had been projected for July 2023.

Caltrain executive director, Michelle Bouchard, said: “The Electrification of Caltrain will be a transformational experience for our riders, with more frequent service and enhanced amenities. Not only will it significantly decrease greenhouse gases emissions, but it is also a major advancement for transit in the Bay Area connecting communities to a transportation network they deserve. We appreciate that the State recognizes the importance of this project, and we are excited to now have the funding to complete electrification in 2024.”

Caltrain also recently received US$43m in federal funding for the Electrification Project as part of the omnibus spending bill, which passed Congress and was signed by President Biden in December 2022. The combination of these federal and state funds means Caltrain has filled the US$410m funding gap that was identified in late 2021.

TIRCP was created to provide grants from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to fund transformative improvements that modernize California’s intercity, commuter, and urban rail systems, and bus and ferry transit systems, to significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, vehicle miles traveled, and congestion.

Caltrain, which provides rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with commute service to Gilroy, is at an important inflection point in its nearly 160 years of serving passengers along the corridor. Caltrain Electrification is the first undertaking in North America in a generation in which diesel trains and their infrastructure components are transitioned to an electrified system. The project will improve the customer experience by increasing the number of trains, modernizing service, and adding new safety elements.

Electrification will also help meet ambitious regional and state climate action goals by lowering greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and relieving traffic congestion. Additionally, electrified service will advance equity along the corridor by reducing noise and air pollution while increasing access for priority equity communities. It will also set the framework for California’s future High Speed Rail network that will run on the Caltrain corridor.