MILLBRAE (KCBS) – Caltrain has received its first big chunk of high-speed rail bond money, which will be used to electrify and modernize the system.

Adrienne Tissier, the chair of Caltrain’s Joint Powers Board, said the release of the $40 million in state funds is an important step in the process.

“Caltrain is engaged in reinvention and it’s going to mean more service, faster service, less pollution and fewer cars on our roads and highways,” said Tissier.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Supporters of the $1.5 billion electrification project said this funding will lay the foundation for high-speed rail in the Bay Area. Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier said the first allocation will go toward an advanced signal system, or what she calls “Caltrain with brains.”

“The trains will become safer to ride because of the brains of GPS technology and computers that will stop the train if there’ a problem ahead,” said Speier.

Legislators including Speier and Peninsula Assemblyman Jerry Hill voted earlier this year to include half of the funding for the project in the high-speed rail budget.

“Many residents on the Peninsula have been waiting, as I have, for decades to see this possibility,” Hill said.

Construction on the signal system is scheduled to start next year, with the project slated for completion in 2019.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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