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Old Posted May 29, 2010, 6:03 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Tempe, AZ
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Electric train plan granted key waiver

By Mike Rosenberg
San Mateo County Times
Posted: 05/27/2010 08:14:57 PM PDT

Caltrain officials have convinced federal safety authorities to allow quick European-style electric trains to zip from San Francisco to San Jose, a national first that paves the way for fast electric commuter and high-speed trains in the Bay Area and around the country.

Although common in Europe, the smaller electric trains are illegal in the United States because federal officials have long considered them too small, poorly designed and unsafe. But after three years of tests and research, Caltrain will become the first railroad in the nation to use the technology after being granted a waiver, a copy of which was obtained by the Bay Area News Group, on Thursday.

Caltrain will essentially be a pilot operation for the trains, called electric multiple units. If successful, commuter railroads and planned high-speed rail networks throughout the nation would have access to cheaper, greener and faster trains.
The waiver allows all passenger trains, whether diesel or electric, to run on the same tracks. Freight locomotives can continue to operate in the wee hours while passenger trains are parked.
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