The Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP)—a transformative undertaking that will make Caltrain more efficient, reliable, faster and environmentally-friendly—received a major boost from the federal government.

The PCEP received approval for entry into the Engineering Phase of the Federal Transit Administration’s Core Capacity Program. Entry into Engineering marks another step closer to the full funding grant agreement (FFGA) that will provide $647 million in federal funds for the $1.9 billion electrification project.

By getting the green light from the FTA, Caltrain can now begin incurring costs for engineering activities, demolition and other non-construction projects that will help pave the way for the start of the electrification project. Additionally, Caltrain can start to procure vehicles and perform utility relocation work for the PCEP.

Essentially, by entering into the Core Capacity Engineering phase, Caltrain is set to commence the real work of electrifying the railway. There is only one more remaining step of the grant process—the entering into the Full Funding Grant Agreement—before construction can start.

The FTA’s decision to move the electrification project forward was noted last month, at a press conference in San Mateo that celebrated the signing of $1.25 billion in contracts for the PCEP.

During the news conference, United State Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who has long been a firm supporter of the Caltrain electrification project, mentioned the historic significance of the FTA’s support for the PCEP.

“We should take pride in knowing that we’re only the second entity in the United States to be accepted into the Engineering phase of the Core Capacity Program,” Speier said at the August 15 gathering.

It was through the efforts of Speier and fellow United States Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, both of whom advocated for years for federal funding of the PCEP, that the project has reached its current status.

“This is a real milestone,” Eshoo said at the news conference. “I always say to constituents that we love our history, once it’s been made. But when we’re doing it, we don’t a have full appreciation of the history that we’re making. We’re going to have a rail service that really fits with the 21st century. This is such a highly-meritorious project for a region that is known across the country and the world.”

The endeavors of Eshoo and Speier were celebrated by Caltrain’s Executive Director, Jim Hartnett at the event on August 15.

“We’ve been blessed by their support for the core capacity grant,” said Hartnett. “That support, not just from their colleagues in Congress, but from the Administration, is what makes such a tremendous difference.”

The PCEP will electrify the Caltrain corridor between San Jose and San Francisco by 2020/2021.  When completed, it will help address rapidly growing ridership by allowing the operation of more service that will accommodate more riders. The project will also significantly decrease vehicle-miles travelled and greenhouse gas emissions throughout the Peninsula corridor. Additionally, the project lays the foundation for the eventual operation of high-speed rail service that will connect the Bay Area to the rest of the State.

We should take some pride in knowing that we’re only the second in the United States to be accepted into the engineering phase of the core capacity program.

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