Caltrans Releases 2018 California State Rail Plan

Source: Caltrans (California Department of Transportation), Sep 12, 2018

Caltrans has released the 2018 State Rail Plan — a bold vision for state rail that aims to boost the economy, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve safety statewide over the next 20 years.

“Rail is a key part of the solution for addressing California’s transportation challenges,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “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.”

With a vision to increase passenger rail travel by 92 million passenger miles per day, the 2018 Rail Plan presents a plan for an integrated system that will allow passengers to easily and efficiently transfer from local transit services to regional, intercity and future high-speed rail. The outcomes described in the Rail Plan will help California achieve its ambitious GHG emission reduction targets, boost the state economy, and potentially eliminate 250 fatalities and 19,000 transportation related injuries per year by 2040.

The passenger vision will create a coordinated, statewide travel system to enhance multimodal access for residents across the state. The vision will allow people to:

  • Travel seamlessly across urban, suburban, and rural areas of the state with more trains to more places more often;
  • Save time with significantly faster trips;
  • Enjoy the journey on modern, safe, clean, and comfortable trains;
  • Transfer quickly and easily at hub stations with coordinated arrivals and departures that significantly reduce wait times;
  • And plan an entire door-to-door trip and purchase a single ticket using a streamlined trip-planning portal.

The freight vision provides a customer-focused system that will eliminate rail freight bottlenecks on transcontinental trade corridors by investing in dedicated rail freight capacity and passenger improvements that support rail freight movement. The freight component also supports short line improvements, grade-crossing improvements at a corridor-level to address community safety needs, and integrating as much service as possible.

Caltrans worked extensively with state, regional, and local partners to develop a consensus vision that supports increased efficiencies and connectivity across the state.


The RTC welcomed Kyle Gradinger, Acting Division Chief of the Caltrans Division of Rail and Mass Transit, as a speaker for its Innovators in Transportation Speaker Series. The video of his talk, The State Rail Plan, Funding, and other Considerations for Rail in the Monterey Bay Area, is now available.