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.

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“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.”

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“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.

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