California Transportation Commission releases CBOSS PTC funding

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

The California Transportation Commission has voted to release $39.8 million in allocations toward work to advance the Caltrain Modernization Program and prepare the rail corridor, which connects San Francisco with San Jose and Gilroy, for a future “blended” system with California High Speed Rail.

The funding will be used to advance design work for Caltrain’s CBOSS PTC Communications Based Overlay Signal System with Positive Train Control) signal system project. Caltrain calls the CTC’s allocation “the first major funding milestone to advance Caltrain electrification from the High Speed Rail ‘early investment’ program.”

“Improved safety is one of the key features of the new signal system,” Caltrain said. “The project includes PTC, which prevents train to train collisions, enforces speed restrictions, and provides protection to workers on the right-of-way throughout the Caltrain system. The project is an essential component of electrification of the corridor and is necessary to achieve the performance advantages available in an electrified system. The advanced signal system will allow for increases in the number of trains per hour operating on the corridor and will help Caltrain meet growing ridership demands. It also potentially has the capability to reduce gate downtime per train, which is important in communities where there are multiple grade crossings in high traffic areas.”

“With today’s vote by the CTC, Caltrain can continue on track to meeting its commitment to bring a cleaner, quieter, faster and/or more frequent service to the corridor by 2019 and take more cars off the region’s roads and highways,” said Adrienne J. Tissier, chair of Caltrain’s Joint Powers Board. “The advanced signal system will play a key role in improving the efficiency of the trains and will allow Caltrain to safely provide more service to more stations.”

The $231 million CBOSS PTC system “will be fully interoperable with freight traffic using the Caltrain corridor and future California High Speed Rail trains,” Caltrain said. “It also meets the Federal Railroad Administration’s requirements to install PTC by 2015, which is why it is essential that the funds be allocated now. The advanced signal system will also provide some important advantages during the installation of electrification that will enable Caltrain to maintain rail operations and support faster, more efficient service in a safe work environment.”

CBOSS PTC is one of three key components of the modernization program, which also includes the implementation of electrification and the purchase of electric-multiple-unit rail vehicles. Caltrain says modernizing the corridor “will reduce emissions by up to 90%, provide faster and/or more frequent service, and will prepare the system for shared use with California High Speed Rail in the future. Electrification of the system is also expected to substantially reduce Caltrain’s operating cost, but will not eliminate the need for a dedicated funding source. “

The total cost of the Caltrain Modernization Program is $1.5 billion. State legislators voted to include $706 million in funding for the modernization project in the California High Speed Rail budget earlier this year. That money, combined with other local, regional and federal funding sources, provides full funding for the program.

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