In a letter sent to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao today, NARP President and CEO Jim Mathews expressed support for federal investment in Caltrain’s Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP). The letter asks the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to move forward with a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA), which is now pending approval.
“Over 65,000 commuters depend on the Peninsula Corridor every day, and the service provides a critical alternative to the heavily congested U.S. 101 freeway,” said Mathews in the letter. “Modernizing the current diesel-based service is a cost-effective way to deliver more efficient, faster, and more frequent rail service to the region.”
In addition to demand for Caltrain, Mathews highlighted that the electrification of the line has the ability to create jobs and strengthen domestic manufacturing – issues the Trump Administration has pushed recently. According to the Caltrain Modernization Program, the project is estimated to create more than 9,600 total direct and indirect jobs. The program has also been the driving force for the construction of a new railcar assembly plant in Salt Lake City, which will generate sustainable, family-wage jobs for 550 employees.
The letter from Mathews comes after California GOP members wrote to Secretary Chao in January, and requested that Chao delay approval of $647 million grant money from the FTA’s Core Capacity Program for the electrification of the Caltrain system – a backdoor effort to oppose the high-speed rail line in the state. Reversing previous bipartisan support, all 18 GOP members of California’s congressional delegation signed the letter to Chao, requesting a hold until a full audit is done on Gov. Jerry Brown’s high-speed rail project.
“Caltrain has warned that if the agency is unable to issue a Notice to Proceed (NTP) to contractors by March 1, 2017, this vital project will see cost overruns, eroding the project’s viability,” stated Mathews.
By contrast, all 37 of California's Democrats in Congress, plus both Senators, wrote to Secretary Chao on February 3rd to voice their support for the Caltrain project, calling out the Republicans’ January 24th attack for making a "material misstatement of fact" regarding the electrification of Caltrain.
About the National Association of Railroad Passengers
NARP is the only national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.