Amtrak Long Distance, Coachella/Imperial Valleys

RailPAC submits support letter for CRISI Grant Application for Coachella Valley Rail

For more information on the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service Project, click here.

Mr. Amit Bose

Acting Administrator 

Federal Railroad Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Avenue SE

Washington, DC 20590

November 4, 2021

Subject: Support for the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service Project Application for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant Funding

Dear Administrator Bose:

The Rail Passengers Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC) fully supports the California Department of Transportation Division of Rail and Mass Transit’s (Caltrans) application for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant funding for the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service Tier II Project Approval and Environmental Documentation Project (Project). RailPAC is a 501c3 volunteer group of railroad professionals and advocates that has campaigned for improved personal mobility in California and the west since 1978.

RailPAC applauds this effort to advance additional intercity rail service between Los Angeles Union Station (“LAUS”) and the Coachella Valley. This new passenger rail service has long been a goal of our organization, the California State Rail Plan, and Riverside County, and has been studied at least seven times by public agencies since the early 1990s. The time for action is now.

If funded, the CRISI award would advance the project closer to construction and implementation of daily intercity rail service between Los Angeles and the Coachella Valley.  With the Service Development Plan (SDP) and Tier I environmental clearance for the corridor expected to be approved in early 2022, the NEPA/CEQA Tier II environmental study is the next step toward fulfilling the transformative vision in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration.

As a joint project between Caltrans and Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), the local implementing agency, the project will provide for the following:

  • Preliminary engineering along the 76-mile eastern section of track to the 30% level; and
  • Project-level environmental clearance for up to six stations, a new third main track, and associated grade crossing and signal improvements on the eastern section of the corridor.

RailPAC fully supports the proposed CRISI grant to further develop the main feature of the preferred Build Alternative Option 1 (as described in the Project’s Tier 1 EIS/EIR): the construction of a new third mainline track along 76 miles of the Union Pacific (UP) Railroad’s existing Yuma Subdivision between Colton and Coachella. Given the capital costs of the third mainline track proposed from Colton to the Coachella Valley, RailPAC wants to emphasize the variety of benefits to passenger and freight rail that are possible with this investment in additional track capacity. Any proposed service in the Project corridor, and the capital improvements associated with it, is a building block for future service improvements and expansion.  Laying the foundation for future expansion adds significant public value to the Coachella Valley – San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service Project (CVR).   Examples of this expansion include:

  • Greater frequency and speed of CVR passenger trains, and extension south to the Imperial Valley
  • Daily Amtrak Sunset Limited
  • Benefits to Union Pacific freight rail
  • New California-Arizona regional passenger services

The State of California and RCTC are investing in regional mobility and transportation infrastructure, as well as in sustainable freight and goods movement, and are committed to matching funds for the CVR Project. This is a game-changing economic opportunity with environmental benefit to all communities along the route from Los Angeles to Coachella Valley.

Sincerely,

Brian Yanity

Vice President- South and Board Member,

Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC)

Robert Manning

President, Southwest Rail Passenger Association

Board Member, Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC)

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