UPDATE: Feds flip on Caltrain Electrification

Feds flip. Approve funding for Caltrain electrification. 

The transportation tussle between California and President Donald Trump is over:  Caltrain electrification is on the way.  About $647 million in federal grant funding for the Caltrain electrification project long-held by Trump’s administration will now move forward, the Federal Transportation Administration said Monday. “With the Caltrain project having met all of the statutory requirements, the FTA intends to sign the (full funding grant agreement),” the FTA wrote in a statement Monday morning.

“This has become a very happy morning around the office,” said Dan Lieberman, a spokesperson for Caltrain. “This project is so necessary, the fact that it will be signed off on is great for riders, for employers, the economy. This is good news all over, I can’t stop smiling,” he said, adding that he had just exited a meeting where the funding was revealed to some Caltrain staffers.

Elaine Chao, who was appointed by Trump as U.S. Transportation Secretary, had initially said she would not sign off on the funding. The battle over Caltrain was widely reported as a proxy between California Republicans and Democrats over high-speed rail, which would rely on electrified Caltrain tracks to run. Holding the $647 million in limbo had no small impact: Caltrain told the San Francisco Examiner it added $20 million in costs to the project. The total price tag to convert the commuter train system from diesel fuel to electric power will cost $1.98 billion.

More than $1.3 billion has already been committed from local, state and regional sources, according to Caltrain spokesperson Seamus Murphy. The Caltrain project would electrify the tracks between San Francisco and San Jose for commuter trains. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein praised the move by Chao in a post on Twitter late Monday morning.

“Wanted to share some great news: I got a call from @SecElaineChao on Saturday. She said she’d sign the @Caltrain funding agreement!” Feinstein posted.

Though the FTA said they intend to sign the project, they have not yet done so. Mr. Lieberman said Caltrain was informed the grants would be approved late Monday or early Tuesday.  

To see more about Trump's Transportation bill, follow our article. Prime the Pump. Trump's Transportation Plan