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Cash Boost for Caltrain Improvements

Feds pony up $3.2 million for modernization, safety.

Caltrain will roll forward with a high-tech train control system and other safety improvements thanks to a $3.2 million grant from the Department of Transportation, the rail agency announced Monday.

The new control system, called Positive Train Control, is used by electric trains around the world and helps prevent collisions by automatically tracking trains and stopping them when another train is detected on the same track nearby.

Eventually, all of Caltrain’s rolling stock will be replaced with electric cars, making the whole system more efficient, cheaper to operate, and faster. The new trains will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent below current levels, Caltrain said in an announcement Monday.

U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo (CA-14), a strong advocate for the project, said, “Commuters deserve safe, efficient and cost-effective modes of transportation. This funding will go a long way toward modernizing the Peninsula’s transit system and helping our local economy.”

The grant from DOT comes alongside nearly $705 million allocated from the high-speed rail fund, which was approved by California voters.

Proponents tout the job-creation benefits of the project, which they say includes thousands of new jobs in the Bay Area.

Caltrain also cites a study by the bay Area Economic Institute which found that the modernization effort will lead to $2.5 billion in economic value, including travel time savings and property value increases near train stations.

Fans of Caltrain have long called for an electric modernization effort, saying it’s the only way to make the system financially secure. With the recent boost in ridership, the trains are nearly at capacity, but the agency is struggling to keep up with demand due to an ongoing deficit.

The new electric trains will allow for a boost in revenue because they’ll be able to accommodate more riders, Caltrain said.

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