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7/28/2005



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Santa Clara VTA to open portion of light-rail extension ahead of schedule, postpone remainder


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Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) recently announced it has postponed the Aug. 12 opening of the Vasona light-rail line between Diridon Station in San Jose, Calif., and Winchester Station in Campbell, Calif.

The light-rail right-of-way between the two stations is part of a shared corridor with Union Pacific Railroad. Although VTA trains would operate on separate tracks, the shared section is subject to Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) operating rules, some of which differ from transit operating rules, which are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission.

VTA has obtained operating approval from the commission, but is awaiting FRA approval. The authority has petitioned the administration to waive certain rules, and FRA recently informed VTA it might impose new safety requirements as a condition of the authority’s pending waiver. VTA hopes to open the line for service in September.

However, the authority is opening part of the extension. On Aug. 1, VTA will begin operating Vasona light-rail service between the San Fernando and Diridon stations. Trains will run every 15 minutes during peak periods and every 30 minutes during off-peak periods. The service will provide connections to Caltrain, Altamont Commuter Express and Amtrak trains.


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