Caltrain funding lined up to start electrification; project bids higher than expected

Tomorrow, the Caltrain board will review an agreement to supplement the previous plan to fund Caltrain electrification.  The plan would allow construction to begin early next year, with electric service in 2021.  The supplementary funds are needed to cover increased costs, including new increases from project bids that came in higher than expected.

Electric train

The regional partners wrestled with sticker shock and bid negotiations; and concerns about the troubled CBOSS train control project (which is now undergoing peer review) The supplementary funding deal includes an additional $200 Million from regional sources (the three County partners and MTC) and High Speed Rail, plus a $225 application for state Cap and Trade funds along with a $647Million application for Federal funds, which would be confirmed later this year.

The latest cost estimate is $1.98B, an increase over the $1.5B estimate from 2012.  The latest increase results from equipment and construction bids that came in higher than planned; and the addition of 20% contingency.  The $1.5B price tag in 2012 reflected an increase over a $1.2B estimate from 2008.

The new price tag still doesn’t include any change to the CBOSS project cost estimates, although the project is expected to run a year late; Caltrain is seeking legal recourse against underperforming suppliers.

The Cap and Trade request includes funding to replace more of the diesel trains with electric trains when service starts – without this funding, Caltrain’s previous plan has been to replace 75% of the diesel trains, leaving 25% diesel trains in service, with ongoing pollution and fuel costs.