Anyone who has been paying attention is not surprised one bit by this news (from today's Mercury News):
In a major blow to a 15-year-long effort to modernize Caltrain, federal transit officials on Friday said they are withholding $647 million the agency was counting on this month to start work on a project to electrify the train line between San Francisco and San Jose.
The decision by the Federal Transit Administration comes just weeks after California’s Republicans in Congress asked the Trump administration to block the funds in an effort to halt one of California’s most controversial public works projects: high-speed rail.
What is surprising and very, very disappointing is this reaction
The decision to defer funds drew a sharp rebuke from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.
“I never imagined that the electrification of a train would be subjected to such brutal, partisan politics,” said Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, in a statement. “This is not a Democratic project nor is it a Republican project. It is about the modernization of an outdated commuter system that is the spine of the transportation system of the Peninsula and the Silicon Valley region.”
Talk about a head fake that tries to hide the linkage to high-cost rail by making it into a partisan event. Not so, Ms. Eshoo. Feel free to click the High-speed Rail link here for a hundred-plus reasons why pouring good money after bad HSR money should not happen. In the meantime, those observers who are really in the know are asking why Caltrain isn't considering Tier 4 Clean Diesel technology. From one of those local observers, we learn
Key Tier 4 advantages include:
- A “Drop-in” solution that replaces the current old diesel locomotives (No changes to track, stations, maintenance yards, etc. required) and no overhead wires.
- Meets ALL of the Caltrain “Modernization” goals
- Uses “Off-the-Shelf”, proven, Positive Train Control systems
- Can be delivered in early 2018 and increase passenger carrying capacity to alleviate peninsula congestion in 2018 (versus no earlier than 2021 for electrification)
- A known cost of ~ $6.4 Million/locomotive
Sounds like something that ought to be considered instead of relying on high-cost rail to bail you out.