U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $16 Million Grant for California’s Rail Network

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) can now begin spending a $16 million grant that will support safety and scheduling improvements on the heavily traveled San Francisco to San Jose corridor.

The money will pay for the design of a positive train control (PTC) technology system that increases railroad safety and efficiency by monitoring and controlling train movements, which will help integrate California’s rail network with high-speed passenger service.

“Keeping people safe is our top priority and positive train control technology will ensure California’s rail network transports passengers more safely and efficiently than ever before,” said Secretary LaHood. “This comprehensive safety technology will improve passenger service along the highly-traveled corridor between San Francisco and San Jose and will ultimately benefit the entire high-speed rail system in California.”

The grant will enable the CHSRA and the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to develop a system that will improve schedule management along the dominant San Francisco-San Jose corridor and by extension, help improve train schedules along the entire California railroad network. In addition, the grant will be used to design a PTC system that will accommodate the existing 52-mile corridor and provide support for high-speed trains.

PTC also keeps passengers and railroad workers safer by maintaining safe train separations preventing non-compliance with train speed limits, protecting roadway workers in authorized work zones and providing protection against train movement over misaligned switches. Once installed, the San Francisco-San Jose system will meet the congressionally-mandated provisions of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), who has been working with the Department of Transportation to secure this vital funding, welcomed Transportation Secretary LaHood’s announcement:

“This is great news for Peninsula residents. This technology will improve Caltrain’s safety and efficiency,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo.” This this is an important first step in making Caltrain a 21st century transportation system.”

Other members of the federal working group also released statements of support for this funding:

“This $16 million in federal funds means faster commutes for our constituents,” said Rep. Michael Honda. “As a Member of the House Budget Committee and the House Appropriations Committee, I recognize that the only way for America to get back to work is for our nation to invest in a 21st century transportation system that will get us there. Improving Caltrain and laying the ground work for high-speed rail has a direct, positive impact on my constituents, and these federal funds show that their hard-earned tax dollars are being efficiently and effectively returned to their communities in visible and meaningful ways.”

“As our country’s highways and roads grow more congested, we desperately need to invest in alternative forms of transportation,” noted Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose). “I support the Federal Rail Administration’s efforts to modernize America’s rails, and this is a step towards more efficient, safer, and faster rail travel. It’s investments like these that are going to keep America competitive as the load on our transportation infrastructure continues to grow.”

“With this investment, we continue to improve California’s public transportation services, creating good jobs, reducing traffic and pollution, and contributing to the health and vitality of California’s economy,” said Rep. Garamendi. “I thank all those responsible for their valiant work in making this dream a reality.”

“The decision of the FRA is the right choice for our time because scarce dollars will be used for the best purpose—increasing safety on the vital Caltrain corridor,” said Rep. Jackie Speier.

Thirty-two states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia are currently laying the foundation for high-speed rail corridors to link Americans with faster and more energy-efficient travel options. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and annual appropriations have, to date, provided $10.1 billion to put America on track towards providing new and expanded rail access to communities and improving the reliability, speed, and frequency of existing service. Of that, more than $5.8 billion dollars has already been obligated for rail projects.

A strict “Buy America” requirement for high-speed rail projects ensures that U.S. manufacturers and workers will receive the maximum economic benefits from this federal investment. In 2009, Secretary LaHood secured a commitment from 30 foreign and domestic rail manufacturers to employ American workers and locate or expand their base of operations in the U.S. if they are selected for high-speed-rail contracts.