Caltrain electrification in limbo as decision on government grant is deferred


The US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has deferred a decision on whether to award a $647 million grant to fund the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP) in California.

Caltrain announced on February 17 that the decision would not be made until after the new administration’s 2018 budget had been outlined.

Caltrain said the delay would “jeopardise” the project, which is closely linked with California’s planned high-speed rail line, and prevent the authority from finalising contracts that would allow work to start.

Last year, Balfour Beatty was awarded a contract to electrify the 84km Caltrain railway which runs between San Francisco and San Jose in California. Stadler won a separate contract to supply the new electric trains.

A Limited Notice to Proceed was issued in September last year, allowing preliminary design work to be carried out. However, the Full Notice to Proceed (NTP), which was expected to be issued on March 1, will now have to be delayed. The NTP is required to maintain the original contract terms. Without it, the project could face penalties, says Caltrain.

The authority said it would now consider its options.

In a statement, Caltrain’s chief communications officer, Seamus Murphy, said: “Clearly, the FTA’s evaluation demonstrates that this Federal investment should be made based on the merits of the project, and we expect that the USDOT will continue with a fair process.

“We are poised to deliver mobility benefits that the region has been anticipating for over two decades, and across the country, workers are anticipating the thousands of jobs that this project will create. Caltrain is thankful for the hundreds of riders, employers and communities that have expressed support for the project.

“We will continue to work with our Congressional delegation, stakeholders and funding partners to support whatever actions are needed to provide our communities with the transit system they deserve.”