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With California's population projected to grow by 21 million by 2050, rail transportation will be vital to the state's efficient movement of freight and people, a new research report concludes.Titled "Rail and California Economy," the report presents case studies and analysis of freight- and passenger-rail transportation on land use, freeway congestion and the movement of commodities, and those factors' effects on the state's economy.The report was prepared by the University of California-Berkeley and released by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)."Rail is a fundamental component of our transportation system that plays a strategic role in meeting California's transportation needs," said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty in a press release.According to the report, more than $400 billion worth of U.S. imports moved through California in 2015, which represented 18 percent of the national total. About 75 percent of containerized goods leaving the nation were transported by rail. Without rail service to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, container flows through the ports would be reduced by 39 percent, while port truck traffic would increase by 44 percent, according to the report.Passenger rail also plays a key role. The LOSSAN passenger corridor — which is under Amtrak control and runs from San Luis Obispo to San Diego — stimulates growth in residential, industrial and commercial development, Caltrans officials said.Additionally, the Caltrain system — which runs along a 77-mile corridor from San Francisco through Silicon Valley to San Jose — accommodates 4,500 passengers per hour. That is the equivalent of adding an additional freeway with two lanes in each direction. The study concluded that Caltrain helps save more than 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. The savings is the equivalent of removing more than 10,000 vehicles from the roadway network, according to the report.
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