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Court ruling allows Caltrain to proceed with electrification plans


A California Superior Court late last week rejected claims by high-speed rail opponents that the state's high-speed rail plan violates state law, Caltrain announced yesterday.

The opponents — from Kings County, Calif. — argued in part that a proposed "blended" system in which California high-speed trains would share electrified tracks with Caltrain's commuter-rail system between San Francisco and San Jose is inconsistent with what voters approved in the Proposition 1A  vote in 2008.

The judge in the case rejected that argument, along with others made by the opponents.

Caltrain officials said the decision will allow the commuter-rail agency to advance its modernization program.

"The [court's] decision allows Caltrain to move forward with plans to deliver electrified service to riders by 2020 and provides a path for continued work with the California High Speed Rail Authority to design a blended system that is fully compliant with Proposition 1A," Caltrain officials said in a prepared statement.

Electrification is part of the Caltrain modernization program, which includes electrifying the San Francisco-to-San Jose corridor, the purchase of new high-performance electric rail vehicles, and the upgrade of the railroad's signal system for the implementation of positive train control.

By 2040, an electrified system will reduce Caltrain criteria pollutant emissions by up to 97 percent, more than double current weekday ridership with increased service and take more than 600,000 daily vehicle miles off the region's roads, according to the agency.

The commuter-rail agency anticipates launching electrified service by the end of 2020.