Caltrain has received a unanimous thumbs-up by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to electrify the Peninsula commuter-rail system.
The Joint Powers Board, the agency that owns and operates Caltrain, approved a regional agreement Thursday, May 3, to fully fund the railroad electrification.
The memorandum of understanding between the California High-Speed Rail Authority and seven Bay Area public agencies would use local, regional and federal funding to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in high-speed rail funds for the project. Riders could see an electrified Caltrain system as soon as 2019, Caltrain announced.
Electrification will bring a faster, cleaner, quieter, more efficient train service, with more frequent service to more stations. The result would be an increase in riders and an increase in revenue, Caltrain stated in an announcement.
Board Chair Adrienne Tissier urged the board to support the agreement.
"Today is the day. This is the beginning of making sure that we have a cleaner train, a faster train, more service, more stops, less noise and cleaner air," she said.
The agreement is based on a "blended system" first proposed by Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and Assemblyman Rich Gordon (Menlo Park).
A blended system would allow Caltrain and high-speed rail to operate on the Caltrain tracks using the current infrastructure. A larger project would be developed in phases over the next 25 years.
"The recent action taken by the several transit agencies will produce an historic accomplishment -- the modernization of Caltrain. A 21st-century system will serve Silicon Valley commuters well, while stimulating local economies and alleviating traffic congestion. This is a huge win for the people of the Peninsula," Eshoo said.
The agreement clearly spells out Caltrain's ownership of the right of way and the agency's responsibility to represent the needs of the community it serves, Caltrain noted.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the California High-Speed Rail Authority have already approved the agreement.
In the next few weeks it will be considered by the City and County of San Francisco, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the City of San Jose, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and the Transbay Terminal Joint Powers Board.