Calif. Contingent Visits D.C. to Make Case for Trump-Style Caltrain Funds – Next City

Calif. Contingent Visits D.C. to Make Case for Trump-Style Caltrain Funds

Caltrain in the Bay Area (Photo by Chris Enright)

Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

Californians Lobby Washington for Caltrain Electrification
A $647 million federal agreement for the electrification of the Caltrain commuter rail line from San Francisco to San Jose currently sits in limbo while President Donald Trump’s administration works through its infrastructure spending proposal. Railway Track & Structures reports that a group of Bay Area business and political leaders joined Caltrain executives in Washington, D.C., March 13 to press for approval of the agreement.

The project would electrify the diesel-hauled commuter line from its downtown San Francisco terminal at Fourth and King streets to Tamien Station in San Jose. The electrification would allow Caltrain to increase its peak-hour service from four to six trains per hour in each direction. Caltrain officials have acted to prevent the delay of approval from jeopardizing the project by extending a deadline for contractors to begin work from March 1 to June 30, but their trip to Washington was intended to stress that this is the kind of project that meets the goals of the administration’s infrastructure program and deserves quick approval.

“Caltrain electrification upgrades service on an existing system that serves the country’s fastest-growing companies, the rest of the funding is already lined up, it creates thousands of jobs nationwide and if the goal is to focus on projects that are ready to go, we aren’t just shovel ready, our shovels are in the ground waiting for the OK from Washington to turn some dirt,” Caltrain Executive Director Jim Hartnett said.

Hartnett said he was pleased with the positive response he got from representatives on both sides of the aisle, adding that “when it comes to investing in infrastructure, this project checks all the boxes.”

B.C. Studies Commuter Rail for Capital
The British Columbia Ministry for Transportation and Infrastructure announced on March 9 that it is launching a feasibility study of commuter rail service on Vancouver Island, Railway Gazette International reports.

The last passenger trains quit running on the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island in 2011. (Photo by Alasdair McLellan)

The island, located off the Canadian province’s west coast, is home to its capital, Victoria, the core city of a region of nearly 350,000 residents. The service being studied would bring commuter trains to a 15-km (9.3-mile) stretch of the now-dormant former Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway from Victoria West to Westhills in Langford. The study will take into account the region’s growing population and congestion on the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) leading into Victoria.

The segment is part of a 234-km (145.4-mile) railway stretching the length of the island and owned by the Island Corridor Foundation, a partnership between First Nations and local government authorities. The line has not seen trains since the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island ended freight service in 2014; the last passenger trains quit running in 2011 because of deteriorating track conditions.

“There has been strong community support for establishing a commuter service from the West Shore,” Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone told Railway Gazette. “We’re listening to what residents are telling us, and we are excited about the possibilities and want to engage further with the local governments as we work to turn this concept into reality.”

Beijing to Build Two More Light-Rail Lines reports that Beijing will add two light-rail lines to its network in the Fengtai District as a move to reduce energy consumption.

Beijing Subway Line 2 (Photo by Jucember)

Work is set to begin this year on the two lines, to be numbered T1 and T2. Line T1 will connect Daotian Station on the Fangshan Line of the Beijing subway with Beijing Garden Expo Park North, with connections to Line 14 of the subway. Line T2 will run from Line T1 to Qinglong Lake.

The article notes that a light-rail vehicle consumes one-third as much energy as a diesel bus. No completion date was given for the two lines.

The article also reports on progress on five subway lines. Line 16 should be complete by 2018, and the final segment of Line 14 is set to open in 2019. The New Airport Subway Line, which the article states will be the fastest in the city when complete, is also set to open that year. An extension to Line 8 from Olympic Park to the South Fifth Ring Road is also underway, as is an extension of the Fangshan Line in Fengtai District that will connect with Line 10.

Know of a project that should be featured in this column? Send a Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.

Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.

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