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Some Good News for Caltrain

Overhead electrification in Connecticut. Why are so many politicians opposed to this? Photo: Wikimedia Commons

After a whole lot of grim news about the Caltrain electrification project it looks as if, finally, there's a glimmer of hope. A $100 million glimmer at that! Funding for electrification is included in the budget compromise in the federal budget deal announced last week.

A release from Friends of Caltrain, celebrates the development:

$100 Million for Caltrain electrification was included in this week's congressional budget deal along with funding for three other new major transit capital projects around the US. The full federal grant for electrification would be $647 million, not paid all at once, so the $100 Million is what would be expected for this budget time frame.

What that means, assuming the Trump Administration signs off on this latest budget plan, is that Caltrain electrification could soon be back on track.

It still means there will be a $547 million gap to fill, but that's less of an issue than it appears. "If they get the Full Funding Grant Agreement sign-off it means they'll get the remaining $500 plus million over the next few years as construction moves along," explained Stuart Cohen, Executive director of TransForm.

Friends of Caltrain, meanwhile, wants advocates to keep up the pressure. As Streetsblog previously reported, they're asking people to reach out to voters who live in the inland districts, mostly in the Central Valley, where members of Congress blocked electrification funding in the first place. "If you can easily get to San Jose Diridon, Santa Clara, San Francisco Transbay, or Oakland Jack London stations, you can hand out flyers to riders of the ACE, Capitol Corridor or San Joaquin trains and encourage them to call their members of congress blocking electrification. The tools you need are here," wrote Adina Levin, with Friends of Caltrain, in a statement.

While there's still much work to do--and who, really, can predict if the Trump Administration will find a way to block this latest appropriation--but it's a ray of hope for this important transit project for San Jose, San Francisco, and all the cities, counties and employers along the route, and for the entire state.

"This is tremendous news for San Mateo County commuters," said Cohen. "Caltrain electrification is an absolute necessity to keep our economy humming while reducing climate emissions."

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