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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Caltrain electrification plan would boost California's economy, Bay-area council study shows


Modernizing Caltrain commuter-rail service as part of a broader plan to build high-speed rail service in California would create thousands of new jobs, generate nearly $1 billion in economic activity and boost property values around rail stations by another $1 billion, according to a new study released Tuesday by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

The study analyzed both the near-term economic benefits of the project-related construction, as well as the longer-term benefits to property values, reduced commute times and increased tax revenue for the state and local governments.

Caltrain plans to convert its conventional diesel-equipped system to electric power. With a new commitment of funding from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Caltrain officials believe the agency can convert to a more modern electric system and install a new advanced train system by 2019, the study states.

“Modernizing Caltrain would make the system faster, quieter and cleaner,” institute officials said in a prepared statement. “The improvements would also help the agency meet growing ridership demand. Caltrain has experienced 21 consecutive months of double-digit ridership growth and is approaching all-time record levels in the number of riders and revenue. Modernization will increase the capacity of the system and help accommodate regional job and population growth.”

The institute released the study as California state lawmakers prepare to consider the fate of $6 billion in voter-approved high-speed rail bonds. Also at stake are billions in federal matching dollars for high-speed rail.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/14/2012