Rail Update: HSR and Caltrain

HSR issues $600 million in bonds, plus Caltrain progress report on electrification

A screen capture from Caltrain's new PSA on electrification. Image: Caltrain
A screen capture from Caltrain's new PSA on electrification. Image: Caltrain

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The California High-speed Rail Authority sold $600 million in bonds for the project on Tuesday, as it continues to construct its 119-mile spine in the Central Valley.

From the Associated Press story:

California sold $600 million in bonds Tuesday to help pay for its high-speed rail project even as lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledge challenges to completing the line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The bond money is a key source of funding for the troubled project, which has been beset by cost overruns and delays. Voters approved $10 billion in bonds in 2008 and the state routinely sells them. The entire project is estimated to cost $77 billion.

The Miami Herald reports that State Treasurer Fiona Ma said that Wells Fargo and Jefferies, LLC, bought the bonds.

Caltrain Electrification

Closer to home, the $1.9 billion Caltrain electrification project continues planting poles and stringing wire. “This month, crews started foundation installation in San Jose and continued pole installation from South San Francisco to San Mateo. Five traction power facilities are currently under construction in South San Francisco, San Jose, Redwood City and San Mateo,” wrote Caltrain in an official release.

The agency also writes that regular weekend train service to all San Francisco stations will be restored after April 1, 2019, with the following exceptions:

  • Saturday, April 20 and Sunday, April 21
  • Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5
  • Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2
  • Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23
A picture of
A picture one of the new trains on order from Stadler. Photo: Stadler US

The advocacy group “Bikes on Board” is still pressuring Caltrain to design the interiors of the above-pictured trains to carry more bikes–and allow them to be stored in view of their owners, to avoid theft. Caltrain has decided to hold a workshop to reevaluate reconfiguration options at 5:40 pm, Wednesday, April 17, at 1250 San Carlos Ave, San Carlos.

As previously reported, Bikes on Board is not happy with the configuration choices currently on the table. For more on that, check out its letter to the Caltrain Board.

And, last but not least, just in case you’re the type of person who thinks it’d be a good idea to try zip-lining on those snazzy new wires over the tracks, Caltrain has put out this cute public service announcement (the lead image is a still from the PSA). It’s kind of hard to comprehend how someone would end up bumping into overhead power lines on Caltrain (even if looking at ones phone) any more easily than they would high-tension lines in other places, but never hurts to get the word out.

And please don’t fly a kite near Caltrain.

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SPUR Talk: High-Speed Rail on its Way to Northern California

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High-Speed Rail construction is well underway in the Central Valley, said Ben Tripousis, Northern California Regional Director for the California High Speed Rail Authority, during a forum at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association’s (SPUR) Mission Street center. “The High-Speed Rail question has shifted from ‘if’ to ‘when,'” he told the packed house at today’s […]