Prop 1A Funds Released for the “Silicon Bullet”
At an event today at Millbrae Station, elected leaders hailed the release of $39 million in Prop 1A funds to begin the Caltrain electrification project. Money was also released for the Central Subway.
“We are here to reboot Caltrain,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, after the California Transportation Commission voted earlier in the day to release $39.8 million for work designing a new electronic brain to manage Caltrain’s fleet, a critical first step in the roughly $1.5 billion project to overhaul the rail line….
“It will be faster, it will be better, it will be safer and it will be cheaper,” said Speier, dubbing the planned railway the “Silicon bullet.”…
The $39.8 million in Proposition 1A connectivity funds allocated Thursday will go toward a “communications-based overlay signal system” with “positive train control.” In plain English, the $231 million electronic system will enable more trains to operate at higher speeds while maintaining safety. Once completed in 2015, it also will allow crews to perform electrification work without major disruptions to Caltrain’s schedule.
There’s a lot more work to come for Caltrain electrification, of course, but this is a good start and an important step forward.
The CTC also released about $60 million for the Central Subway project in San Francisco, which is also awaiting word on an expected $950 million federal grant to help complete construction. Like the high speed rail project, the Central Subway is also drawing lawsuits. One group that is opposed to the project is filing suit to block it by arguing that plans for a Union Square entrance violate the city charter.
Despite the controversy, that project and Caltrain electrification are just two of the pieces of building a better rail system in the Bay Area.