Caltrain electrification project gets $20 million CalSTA grant

New trains will reduce emissions by 97 percent by 2040, agency estimates

The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) announced Tuesday that it will give Caltrain one of 14 cap-and-trade grants focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the state's public-transportation infrastructure.

Caltrain will receive $20 million in state Cap and Trade funds for its electrification project, which will replace the transportation agency's diesel equipment with high-performance electric trains, allowing Caltrain to provide faster, more frequent service along its 51-mile corridor between San Francisco and San Jose while reducing emissions, according to a news release.

The project, according to CalSTA, will reduce emissions by 97 percent by 2040, and reduce greenhouse gases by 176,000 metic tons of carbon dioxide a year.

"This is a transformative moment for transportation in the Bay Area," Silicon Valley Leadership Group President and CEO Carl Guardino said in a statement. "This project means more commute options and faster travel times for thousands of current Caltrain riders and it allows the system's ridership capacity to grow, preparing the corridor to connect to new BART stations in San Jose and Santa Clara."

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has committed $713 million to the $1.98 billion electrification project, according to the news release. The project will also be funded through a combination of federal, regional and member-agency contributions.

Caltrain's congressional delegation announced Monday that the electrification project was one of two projects accepted into the engineering phase of the Federal Transit Administration Core Capacity Program, which is expected to provide $643 million toward the project.


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22 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 9:55 am

What this really means to us in Palo Alto that it is now more crucial than ever to deal with the grade crossings in town.

We have to look at this as a regional topic and not a city by city piecemeal situation. Mountain View is proposing to close Castro Street to traffic.

With more frequent trains, that will mean more frequent gate closures. Each time a train goes by, the light sequences start from the beginning and those already waiting to turn miss out on their sequential turn. With more gate closings some of these turns will be almost impossible in peak times. Each gate closure also means that the number of cars waiting to cross the tracks increases at the next light sequence. The tailbacks with increased gate closures will be enormous.

Traffic is already a big problem in town. More frequent gate closures will add to this. Now is the time to deal with this, not when the situation has deteriorated.

What are we going to do? Not what are we Palo Alto going to do, but what are we the Peninsula going to do? Atherton may fight to prevent electrification but that has to be a losing battle. Electrified trains are quieter and with all the proposed housing along the corridor the likelihood is that they will become more and more functional as a commute choice.

There must be government grants of various types, that can be applied to for some of the costs, but we have no excuses now. These grade crossings have to be altered. Now.

6 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2016 at 10:22 am

I think you have Atherton's fight against CAHSR confused with CalTrain electrification.

10 people like this
Posted by gxbell
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 17, 2016 at 10:59 am

Love the progress, less noise, less pollution, etc.
Can we do it sooner than almost 25 years?

1 person likes this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 17, 2016 at 11:25 am

Thank you, "Resident," for highlighting what should be the higher priority (although why the cloak of anonymity?). Also, what will be the impact of self-driving vehicles on the need for Caltrain (see yesterday's Ford announcement, Web Link)? Is this money well-spent?

14 people like this
Posted by Hurry, Hurry
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Due to the capital gains taxes we are stuck here. The pollution from the increase in rail traffic is suffocating me. The noise is keeping me awake despite insulation and dual pane windows.

My asthma has progressed to COPD; someday soon it will progress to emphysema....unless something is done about the noise and pollution from the trains!

Please, please expedite this!

8 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2016 at 1:33 pm


It would have been a good idea to have been planning for grade separations 8 years ago, unfortunately the city council gave in to the "BERLIN WALLS" constituency and now those frequent gate closures may be the result you're stuck with.

9 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 17, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Self-driving vehicles will not reduce congestion or pollution. You will still have individual people sitting in individual vehicles on the road. If they are all electric it might be some improvement, but a train that carries hundreds of people all at once and is off the roads is far better. Let's get this done ASAP.

1 person likes this
Posted by Flash
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 25, 2016 at 10:51 am

@gxbell: I agree with most of your points, but electrification won't significantly reduce noise, most of which is caused, not by train engines, but federally-mandated loud whistles.

3 people like this
Posted by Donada
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Donada is a registered user.

Electrification won't eliminate the shaking caused by passing trains either.

Besides, the worst noise, pollution and shaking if buildings is caused by the freight trains. They won't be electrified.

1 person likes this
Posted by bob gardiner
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 1, 2016 at 9:45 pm

Do we want to cut down 1000s of trees, increase noise pollution 24 hours a day, and further clog already over-capacity intersections?

This is a bad idea whose supporters haven't grasped the potential of self-driving cars. It divides us, and makes travel dangerous throughout our cities.

I hear train noise throughout the day and all hours of the evening 1/2 mile away from the tracks. We need to eliminate the out-of-control noise pollution, move the mass transit corridor to the perimeter of town (by 280 or 101) and develop synergies between neighborhoods currently divided by the train.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2016 at 9:11 am


How can self driving cars make a difference to traffic and commuting?

I would like that explained to me because I am a rather simple minded person. To me a car on the road is a car on the road, regardless of whether it is driven by the owner or by the car itself. In fact, I see a car that has to drive itself empty to pick up a passenger as making the situation worse as that makes 2 trips instead of 1.

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

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