The Metropolitan Transportation Commission on Wednesday approved a regional agreement to fund the electrification of Caltrain.
The approval of the Memorandum of Understanding between the California High-Speed Rail Authority and more than half a dozen Bay Area public agencies will entirely an upgrade to the Caltrain system, agency spokeswoman Christine Dunn said.
The electrification of Caltrain by 2020 will cost about $1.5 billion. The agreement uses local, regional and federal funds to make up $750 million, which will leverage another $750 million from the high-speed rail authority.
“[Wednesday]'s action represents the first step in what will eventually be a great leap forward for transit on the Peninsula,” Caltrain Executive Director Mike Scanlon said in a statement.
“It demonstrates how we can effectively prepare for the future and at the same time realize tangible, more immediate benefits for our riders and our communities,” he said.
The electrification and modernization of Caltrain have been in the works for more than a decade, and are "critically-needed improvements that will dramatically improve the service and help ensure the long-term viability of the commuter rail system," Dunn said in the statement.
Electrifying Caltrain would make the trains quieter, faster and more frequent. It would also reduce emissions by 90 percent.
The agreement must still be endorsed by all the parties, which include the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, the city of San Jose, the city and county of San Francisco, and the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which owns and operates Caltrain.
Caltrain is also studying the feasibility of a blended two-track system with the high-speed rail authority and what infrastructure improvements will be needed to support high-speed rail while minimizing the impact on surrounding communities.