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US approves $650M for train system, also helps high-speed rail

In this July 1, 2013, file photo, commuters board a Caltrain train at the Caltrain and Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Millbrae, Calif. The Trump administration has agreed to fully fund a $650 million federal grant for electrification of a San Francisco Bay Area train system that would also help California's high-speed rail project.
In this July 1, 2013, file photo, commuters board a Caltrain train at the Caltrain and Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Millbrae, Calif. The Trump administration has agreed to fully fund a $650 million federal grant for electrification of a San Francisco Bay Area train system that would also help California's high-speed rail project. AP

The Trump administration announced Monday that it will fully fund a $650 million federal grant for electrification of a San Francisco Bay Area train system that also would help California’s high-speed rail project.

The government previously delayed a decision when congressional Republicans objected. But the Federal Transit Administration said in a statement that the Caltrain project had “met all of the statutory requirements” for the funding.

Members of California’s GOP delegation had asked President Donald Trump’s administration to block approval of the grant to electrify a major commuter line, Caltrain, between San Jose and San Francisco until an audit of the bullet train’s finances is completed.

$650 millionThe amount in the federal grant for electrification of a San Francisco Bay Area train system

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has pledged to open Merced’s stop on the same day as Fresno’s station. The stop has been touted by area leaders and elected officials who say it could drive the economy.

They said providing additional funding to help the $64 billion high-speed rail project would be an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars.

Future bullet trains would need electrified rails and high-speed rail’s business plan calls for the two systems to share lines along the Peninsula Corridor in the Bay Area.

Monday’s announcement includes $100 million already allocated for Caltrain this fiscal year and an additional $547 million over the next five years.

62 percentThe number of Valley Trump supporters who oppose the High-Speed Rail

“This is exactly the type of infrastructure investment our country needs,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said in a statement.

Trump has spoken favorably of high-speed rail and lamented that the United States is behind many other countries that have bullet trains.

Central San Joaquin Valley supporters of Trump tend not to support the train, according to a study this month by the Institute for Leadership and Public Policy at Fresno State. About 62 percent of his supporters oppose the train, compared to the 58 percent overall who support it.

Thaddeus Miller: 209-385-2453,

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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