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Rail News: Passenger Rail

State funds firm-up Sacramento transit project plans


Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) solidified its Folsom Corridor extension plans in early October when California Department of Transportation approved $5.3 billion for several projects statewide.

"In our case, $139 million was approved for RT," says Mike Wiley, SacRT director of customer services. "Mostly for rail projects, but also to replace diesel buses with compressed natural gas buses."

Of the $139 million, $20 million has been allocated for the Folsom Corridor project — which began as three separate projects but was consolidated.

Overall, the project would add 10.9 track miles to SacRT’s 20.5-mile light-rail system, extending it 10.2 miles from its current terminus at Mather Field/Mills Station into downtown Folsom. The project also would add nine stations, create double-track segments to eliminate bottlenecks, and develop a rail vehicle maintenance facility. The remaining .7 mile of track would extend SacRT’s system from Watt Avenue to an Amtrak station.

"We felt it was important for us to connect our rail system to [Amtrak’s] Capital Corridor," says Wiley.

The Amtrak extension would enable SacRT to pursue possible future commuter rail service; plans already are under way to relocate Sacramento’s bus service to the terminal.

In addition, the project would enable SacRT to operate limited-stop express service during peak periods, which would require upgrading its signaling system.

"[The current system] doesn’t allow trains to bypass some stations without stopping," says Wiley.

The new system would introduce that added flexibility and prompt automatic station announcements informing patrons that an incoming train is an express type and won’t stop.

In addition to the Folsom Corridor expansion, SacRT also is extending its line south 11.2 miles from downtown Sacramento to Elk Grove. As part of this South Line extension, the agency awarded Spain-based manufacturer Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles S.A. a $100,000 contract for 40 light-rail vehicles.

"We’ll almost double the system’s length and more than double its cars," says Wiley.

SacRT’s fleet stands at 36 light-rail vehicles. Of the 40 ordered, 24 are earmarked for South Line; the remaining 14, for Folsom Corridor with two additional spares to be available systemwide.

The South Line extension is about 30 percent complete. Folsom Corridor construction is slated to begin in July 2001, with first phase expansion completion in late 2002; the extension into Folsom, early- to mid-2003; and the extension to the Amtrak station, late 2003. By September 2003, the entire extension should be complete, says Wiley.

Kathi Kube

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/11/2000