Caltrain choices: electrification or insolvency

Caltrain, which runs from San Francisco down the peninsula past San Jose to Gilroy, transports thousands of riders each day, many of them commuters. They are facing a severe budget shortfall, and say they need to convert to a modern electric-powered system which would be faster, with more frequent service.

This, they hope, would attract new riders which would offset their budget crunch. Well, sort of. Even with electrification, the budget would still be in the red, just not as much. To further complicate things, they need to raise $1.5 billion to pay for the upgrades.


Some funding could come from the California High Speed Rail (CAHSR) Prop 1A that passed in 2008. But it only provides $9.95 billion for the initial segment from Los Angeles to San Francisco, about half of what is needed. The federal government did recently kick in $2.35 billion as part of the stimulus package. But CASHR still has nowhere near what it needs for the L.A-S.F. route.

So, it’s difficult to see where Caltrain will get the $1.5 billion necessary for electrification from that funding. There’s just not enough to go around.

The financial problems are getting worse.

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One comment

  1. Why does the upgrade needs 1.5bil? The burj Dubai itself cost 1.5bil. Couldn’t we do the upgrade for far less of the price?

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