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Major businesses form coalition to support Caltrain's modernization


As Caltrain officials yesterday marked the 10th year of the "Baby Bullet" service, major employers that have grown their companies along the Caltrain/Highway 101 corridor joined other business groups in announcing a new coalition that will advocate in favor of funding efforts to expand Caltrain's capacity and service.

Coordinated by the Bay Area Council (BAC), the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the San Mateo County Economic Development Association, the Caltrain Commuter Coalition (C3) includes participation from such employers and organizations as Google, HP, LinkedIn, Oracle, Redwood Redwood City-San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce, the San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Stanford University and BayBio.

C3 officials said they are "working to ensure that traffic congestion and limited public transportation capacity between San Francisco and San Jose does not limit the region’s ability to remain economically competitive," according to a press release issued by Caltrain.

"Today, traffic congestion on the Highway 101 corridor is threatening to limit the ability of our communities to thrive," said BAC President Jim Wunderman. "Transforming Caltrain into a system that can sustain the long-term economic growth of our region is an essential part of the solution and we’re committed to helping make it happen."

During an event held yesterday, Caltrain officials celebrated the past decade since the first Baby Bullet express train made its way down the agency's corridor. The rail service has had an "undeniable and substantial impact on the region’s commute patterns, land-use strategies, the decisions people make about where to live and work and the decisions business make about where to locate major facilities and how best to compete for top-notch employees," Caltrain officials said.

"The Baby Bullet effect led to the unprecedented demand the railroad is now facing, pushing Caltrain’s ridership past the 61,000 average weekday rider mark just this past month," said Tom Nolan, chair of the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, the three-agency partnership that owns and operates Caltrain.

Caltrain is working to provide near-term capacity improvements by purchasing additional rail cars that will allow for the operation of longer trains. To address long-term needs, the agency is advancing its modernization program, which calls for converting from a diesel-based trains to an electrified system.

In 2012, Caltrain secured an agreement from nine local, regional and state agencies to begin investment in the transition to electric trains. Completing the entire program of projects will require a significant amount of additional local, state, regional and federal investment, Caltrain officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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