Caltrans announced that it has received nearly $25 million from the Federal Railroad Administration to install global positioning system-based (GPS) train control equipment on its Pacific Surfliner intercity rail line to improve worker safety and help prevent train collisions and derailments. The state will match the federal funds dollar-for-dollar with 2009 Proposition 1A rail bond funds, increasing the project’s funding to $50 million.
“Caltrans is committed to safety not only on our highways, but also on our three intercity rail lines,” said acting Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty. “As more travelers choose train travel as an option, Caltrans is working with both its local and federal partners to keep riders safe.”
The safety equipment, known as Positive Train Control (PTC), will be installed on the Pacific Surfliner corridor in San Diego County. The PTC signaling system will increase railroad safety and efficiency by monitoring and controlling train movements. In a partnering effort, the North County Transit District, operator of the Coaster rail service, will install the PTC signaling system on the tracks between San Onofre and San Diego, where the Pacific Surfliner and the Coaster service share the line.
This follows last week’s announcement by the Federal Railroad Administration for $68 million in Recovery Act funding for trains servicing intercity routes. The funding is part of a multi-state procurement among California, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Washington State to pool resources, maximizing the purchase of next-generation American-made trains. Along with $100 million from a previously awarded grant to California, the money will allow for the purchase of new locomotives and passenger rail cars. In an unprecedented interstate partnership, Caltrans will take the lead in purchasing the rail cars and locomotives for all states resulting in the other states covering California’s administrative costs. In addition to the Pacific Surfliner, which will receive 27 rail cars, the San Joaquin corridor will receive 15 rail cars and four locomotives and the Capitol Corridor will get 10 cars and two locomotives.
Under the Amtrak California banner, Caltrans funds three of the five busiest intercity passenger rail routes in the Amtrak system: the Pacific Surfliner corridor (ranked second), the Capitol Corridor (ranked third), and the San Joaquin corridor (ranked fifth). Caltrans is on-track to break its all-time ridership record of 5.58 million passengers boarding Amtrak California trains in the next few months. The three routes will complement the proposed high-speed train service between Los Angeles and San Francisco.