Caltrain capital budget advances major regional connections, potential battery service to Gilroy

Caltrain’s capital budget for the coming year includes participation in major regional connections all along the corridor.  These include:

  • Local match funding for the Downtown Extension to Salesforce Transbay Terminal in San Francisco, which is in the queue for federal funding in 2023, and is forecast to increase ridership by 25%
  • Planning for the major Redwood City passing station that has the opportunity to move forward with a large station area development, and would provide major improvements to schedule quality and corridor capacity.  The city’s planning around the major development, which would free up space for grade separations and the passing station, is happening now.
  • Maintaining the leaky roof at the historical San Jose DIridon station which will be part of an integrated station complex with BART and High Speed Rail.

Safety fixes to at-risk bridges

Capital projects queued up for the year also include major safety projects, including replacing the ancient and at-risk bridges over the Guadalupe River in San Jose (built 1935) and San Francisquito Creek in Palo Alto (built 1902).

Battery hybrid service to Gilroy?

South Santa Clara County residents will be interested in a capital project to partner with Stadler, the manufacturer of Caltrain’s electric train cars.  The project has Caltrain starting to work with Stadler to develop and test out hybrid trains (we think they’re talking about battery hybrids) that would allow the trains to continue without electric wiring between San Jose and Gilroy.  Without these hybrids, South County riders will need to transfer after Caltrain migrates to electric trains. 

Caltrain’s electric wires only extend to Tamien station, because the tracks south of Tamien are owned by Union Pacific which does not want to run freight trains under electric wires.  Caltrain has been working with the High Speed Rail Authority to potentially electrify the service to Gilroy, but that isn’t slated to arrive until the 2030s.

Changes to balance the budget – member contributions, cuts, lower reserves?

However, Caltrain’s capital budget is not yet balanced. Caltrain is asking member agencies to contribute about $5M each to the capital budget, which contributes to capital projects benefiting all three counties and the entire line.   In addition, Caltrain is proposing setting aside $20 million in a capital reserve fund. 

What do you think about the projects in Caltrain’s capital budget? The details are on page 79 of the agenda packet.