Regional Rail


PCTPA, along with regional partners, have been working cooperatively on a Regional Rail Implementation Plan to explore a commuter rail system between Auburn and Oakland. This regional rail (commuter) service would augment existing Capitol Corridor intercity service by providing additional peak period capacity within the greater Sacramento urban area and between Sacramento and the Bay Area. The two services (Capitol Corridor and Regional Rail) would utilize the same equipment, staff, and fare structure, and thus would appear fully unified to the riding public.

The Implementation Plan has been developed in conjunction with our funding partners on this effort, with assistance from the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), California Department of Transportation Division of Rail, Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR), and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) as appropriate.

Recommendations of the Implementation Plan include:

  • 5 new weekday round-rip trains serving 19 locations between Bowman and Oakland
  • 30-minute headways during peak periods (when mixed with Capitol Corridor service)


PCTPA – As the Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) for Placer County, the PCTPA Board determines and manages Placer’s priorities for the regional transportation system. The Agency is also the transportation authority for Placer County, through which Regional Rail service would operate.

Sacramento Regional Transit (RT) – Transportation authority for Sacramento County, through which Regional Rail service would operate.

Yolo County Transportation District – Transportation authority for Yolo County, through which Regional Rail service would operate.

Solano Transportation Authority – Transportation authority for Solano County, through which Regional Rail service would operate.

Contra Costa Transportation Authority Transportation authority for Contra Costa County, through which Regional Rail service would operate.

Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) – a consortium of transportation agencies that manage the Capitol Corridor rail service between San Jose and Auburn.

California Department of Transportation Division of Rail – The Caltrans Division of Rail manages and coordinates intercity rail passenger services in California by working with Amtrack and local agencies.

Union Pacific Railroad – the largest railroad in North America and owner of the tracks on which Amtrack and the Capitol Corridor currently operate.

SACOG – The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) is an association of local governments in the six-county Sacramento Region. Its members include the counties of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba as well as the 22 cities within. SACOG provides transportation planning and funding for the region, and serves as a forum for the study and resolution of regional issues.


Costs for Regional Rail include $15.5 million annually to operate service (2004 dollars), and capital Costs of $380 million to initiate service (includes trackwork, signals, rolling stock, facilities, stations). As stated in the Implementation Plan, funding for start-up should comprise a mix of sources, the mix customized for each sponsoring agency. The sponsoring agencies should allocate the total costs among themselves according to an agreed distribution formula or policy. A funding plan, with a unique element for each project sponsor, should be based on each sponsor’s ability to obtain funds from the various fund sources.

Implementation of Regional Rail service is recommended to be phased as follows:

Phase 1: 2010 – $68M: rolling stock purchase to fill remaining 6 daily round trip slots on Capitol Corridor between Sac and Oakland

Phase 2: 2015 – $232M: More than 18 daily trains; major trackwork, more rolling stock, maintenance facilities, new station in Dixon, new agreement with UPRR

Phase 3: 2020 – $80M: 5 new stations, improvements of 3 other stations

With only limited exisiting funding currently identified, the schedule for implenting Regional Rail service is currently unknown. Future state funding sources could be used as part of Placer’s share of the start-up costs, but alone, these funds are not enough. With a transportation sales tax, Placer County would have its share of funding needed to contribute toward the costs of Regional Rail service and service could be initiated as early as 2010, pending agreements with the other sponsoring agencies and Union Pacific Rail Road (Contra Costa and Sacramento Counties already have transportation sales taxes in place to help generate their respective shares to fund this project).


Negotiations with Union Pacific Railroad
PCTPA has been leading the charge in trying to bring more rail service to Placer County, both through added frequency on the Capitol Corridor service and through the development of Auburn-Oakland Regional Rail. A key stumbling block has been convincing the owner of the tracks, Union Pacific Railroad, to permit the additional trains.

Placer representatives, along with other members of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) and Regional Rail Steering Committee and former Assemblyman Tim Leslie, had numerous meetings with Union Pacific representatives to find a way to bring more passenger rail service to Placer County. Union Pacific representatives have said their priority for track capacity is freight rail, and are already experiencing serious challenges in handling the freight capacity. The reaction of Union Pacific officials to our request for additional passenger service so far has been a strong, unequivocal “no.”

Update from Capitol Corridor (April 2010):

Currently, there is only one daily Capitol Corridor round trip train east of Sacramento, serving Roseville, Rocklin, and Auburn. The CCJPA, as supported by member agencies, Placer County Transportation Planning Agency, Sacramento RT, and Sacramento Area Council of Governments, and rail service partner, Amtrak, has been working for many years with Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) to increase Capitol Corridor train service to/from Placer County.

Recent efforts, however, have provided some hope for progress. UPRR expressed a willingness to discuss additional passenger service as part of a package of improvements that would benefit both freight and passenger rail capacity. Efforts are ongoing with CCJPA and UP to draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to outline these complex details, including funding partnerships, specific track improvements, added passenger train frequencies, and potential relocation of the Roseville train station. Below are the 2 phases that have been established that will provide for the incremental increase in train service.

Phase 1 – Additional Train to/from Auburn

  • In response to a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the CCJPA intends to apply for the remaining FY2009 FRA construction funds to finance a share of the a UPRR project along Donner Pass.
  • The application requires a 50% non-federal match and is due May 19, 2010.
  • Assuming the CCJPA receives an award from the FRA, the UPRR will grant an added (2nd) round trip train to/from Auburn.The CCJPA is working out details on the project schedule/implementation and total project cost and the CCJPA’s share of these costs, which will be the subject of the FRA application.

Phase 2 – Sacramento-Roseville 3rd Track Project [10 round trip trains to/from Roseville]

  • CCJPA and PCTPA recently revised the STIP programming of funds for the 3rd track project.
  • The CCJPA will seek available FY11 STIP-Interregional Improvement Program (IIP) funds to advance environmental documentation and design plans/cost estimates for the project.
  • PCTPA will seek construction funds in FY12 (STIP-Regional Transportation Improvement Program) funds to initiate station-related work to support the installation of the 3rd track.
  • Using the completed CCJPA environmental/design plans and cost estimates, a financing plan will be prepared with a mix of State funds (including $15M/Prop 1A High Speed Connectivity Intercity Rail account and any future STIP-IIP and available Prop 1B Intercity Rail) and future FRA (FY2011) capital grants to construct the 3rd track and related upgrades.
  • The 3rd track will allow the track capacity for the CCJPA to operate up to 10 daily Capitol Corridor round trips to/from Roseville.

Next Steps

  • Finalize MOU with UPRR.
  • Complete application to FRA for FY2009 construction funds.
  • Apply for STIP-IIP funds in July/August 2010 to start the environmental documentation and design plans for the Sacramento-Roseville 3rd Track Project
  • Maintain/continue communications with FRA, Caltrans, CTC, and state and Congressional delegation on the funding and implementation of these projects and initiation of added Capitol Corridor train service to Placer County.