Judge Gives Caltrain Electrification Green Light:
Atherton loses lawsuit, claims local project was too closely tied to high-speed rail
September 27, 2016
San Mateo Daily Journal
In a lawsuit that could have veered Caltrain’s electrification plans off track, a judge announced Monday he is ruling in favor of the local transit agency proceeding with its $2 billion Modernization Program.
The town of Atherton filed the potentially derailing suit in February 2015, alleging Caltrain’s environmental impact report was inadequate and that its plans to share the Peninsula tracks with high-speed rail should have been vetted as part of the review.
The Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, or TRANSDEF, and Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail joined the lawsuit that was eventually moved to Contra Costa County Superior Court.
On Monday, Superior Court Judge Barry Goode sided with Caltrain arguing electrifying the local tracks does not inherently pave the way for the state’s controversial bullet train.
“Petitioners are simply wrong when they say ‘[n]either project can be implemented without the other.’ … The Electrification Project can be implemented successfully even if the HSR project never takes another step forward. It is a project of independent utility that Caltrain has been seeking to implement for nearly twenty-five years,” Goode wrote in his order.
Caltrain is slated to receive $713 million from high-speed rail since the two agreed to a blended system whereby they would share the Peninsula tracks between San Jose and San Francisco.
“Indeed, at bottom [California High-Speed Rail] is providing funds to Caltrain while hoping that the rest of CHSRA’s plans work out well enough that, someday, it can bring the blended system to fruition. But if CHSRA is unable to do that, Caltrain will still have a successful project. Put another way, HSR may need to have Caltrain’s Electrification Project completed. But Caltrain does not need to have High Speed Rail completed for the Electrification Project to be a success,” Goode wrote.