June 23, 2011

Calif. high-speed rail group to begin rail improvements

On Thursday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) can now begin spending a $16 million grant that will support safety and scheduling improvements on the heavily traveled San Francisco-to-San Jose corridor.

The money will pay for the design of a positive train control (PTC) technology system that increases railroad safety and efficiency by monitoring and controlling train movements, which will help integrate California’s rail network with high-speed passenger service.

“Keeping people safe is our top priority and positive train control technology will ensure California’s rail network transports passengers more safely and efficiently than ever before,” said Secretary LaHood. “This comprehensive safety technology will improve passenger service along the highly-traveled corridor between San Francisco and San Jose and will ultimately benefit the entire high-speed rail system in California.”

The grant will enable the CHSRA and the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to develop a system that will improve schedule management along the dominant San Francisco-San Jose corridor and by extension, help improve train schedules along the entire California railroad network. In addition, the grant will be used to design a PTC system that will accommodate the existing 52-mile corridor and provide support for high-speed trains.

PTC also keeps passengers and railroad workers safer by maintaining safe train separations preventing non-compliance with train speed limits, protecting roadway workers in authorized work zones and providing protection against train movement over misaligned switches. Once installed, the San Francisco-San Jose system will meet the congressionally-mandated provisions of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), who has been working with the Department of Transportation to secure this vital funding, welcomed Transportation Secretary LaHood’s announcement:

Thirty-two states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia are currently laying the foundation for high-speed rail corridors to link Americans with faster and more energy-efficient travel options. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and annual appropriations have, to date, provided $10.1 billion to put America on track towards providing new and expanded rail access to communities and improving the reliability, speed, and frequency of existing service. Of that, more than $5.8 billion dollars has already been obligated for rail projects.

A strict “Buy America” requirement for high-speed rail projects ensures that U.S. manufacturers and workers will receive the maximum economic benefits from this federal investment. In 2009, Secretary LaHood secured a commitment from 30 foreign and domestic rail manufacturers to employ American workers and locate or expand their base of operations in the U.S. if they are selected for high-speed-rail contracts.

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