Financing Deal Set For Electrified Caltrain With Eye Toward High-Speed Rail

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A new financing agreement between Caltrain and the California High-Speed Rail Authority means a clearer timeline for the electrification of commuter trains along the Peninsula.

The High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors approved a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday with the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to enhance the rail corridor between San Francisco and San Jose by improving the tracks, adding safety features and preparing the route to accommodate future high-speed rail service.

The old diesel trains could be ditched by 2019 in favor of all-electric propulsion according to Caltrain’s Jayme Ackemann.

“Not only is it a smoother ride, but because the vehicles stop and start more quickly, it helps them to make the trip between San Jose and San Francisco faster,” Ackemann said.

Caltrain modernization, which boasts a cleaner approach to travel, will arrive a decade before high-speed rail service to Los Angeles becomes a reality.

Rail Board Chairman Dan Richard said the agreement should put to rest fears that the old duel-track approach (essentially side by side tracks for the Caltrain and the high-speed train to L.A.) might be resurrected.

“We would not be spending this amount of money to do electrification unless we intended to use it,” Richard said.

Construction of the 220 mph train system begins in the Central Valley this summer. While an electric Caltrain is purported as vastly less expensive to operate as a diesel Caltrain, currently there is no talk of reducing fares.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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