California: Caltrans Publishes 2018 State Rail Plan

Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Centre, California © Ron Reiring (licence)

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has published its 2018 State Rail Plan. This co-ordinated, statewide travel system is designed to enhance multimodal passenger transport and improve freight services across California by 2040.

Passenger Services

The plan for passenger services outlines an integrated system intended to facilitate efficient transfer between local, regional, inter-city and high-speed rail. The principal object of the plan is to increase the distance travelled by passengers on rail services per day across the state by 92 million miles.

The plan provides for:

  • Safe, clean, comfortable trains
  • Seamless travel across urban, suburban and rural areas of the state by increasing the number of trains and stops
  • Increased speed of travel
  • Quick and easy transfers at hub stations with co-ordinated arrivals and departures
  • A streamlined journey-planning portal for ticket purchases


California is the fifth-largest economy in the world and the state’s annual GDP is more than $2.4 trillion. By 2040 the number of freight-loads shipped by rail will be 38% higher than the number of loads in 2013. The plan intends to develop a customer-focused system that will eliminate bottlenecks on transcontinental trade corridors by utilising new federal and state funding programmes, including Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) and the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP). The state will also invest in upgrading the infrastructure of short lines and level crossings.

Laurie Berman, Director of Caltrans, said:

“Rail is a key part of the solution for addressing California’s transportation challenges. In this Rail Plan, we lay out the goals and investment strategies necessary in both the short and long-term for improving access, mobility and efficiency for both our passenger and freight rail systems, while also making a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions related to the transportation sector.”

In addition to improving the economy of the state and meeting its target for reducing greenhouse gasses the plan also aims to eliminate the 19,000 injuries and 250 fatalities per year caused by traffic accidents.

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