‘It’s a long process, very complex’: Passenger rail project aims to connect 21 Northern California counties


(KTXL) – A project to transform Northern California’s passenger rail network into a faster, more connected system just began. 

It looks to ease congestion on the road and get people to take the train instead. 

“I don’t like driving,” said one commuter. 

At the Sacramento Valley Station, it was a steady flow of passengers. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for cars on Interstate 80. While it can be difficult to ease congestion, transportation officials across Northern California believe they might have found the solution. 

“It’s a long process, very complex,” said Jim Allison, manager of planning, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority. 

The Link21 program is a collaboration between Capitol Corridor, BART and several other cities and transportation agencies across 21 Northern California counties. It looks to connect more rail systems and provide safe, efficient and affordable travel. 

“The goal is to put more frequency out there and make it faster and give people choices,” Allison said. “So that they have an option rather than thinking they have to drive there.”

Thursday evening, with the project still in the early phases, Link21 held a virtual workshop in hopes of gathering feedback to plan the best passenger rail transportation system for the region. 

“Those who want to see Northern California as a quality place to live and not be condemned to be a congested highway and those kinds of things, I think it’s good for them they involved,” Allison said. 

Those already using the train believe the more options the better. 

“It may just add a few years to our life on this planet,” said Alan Ernstsen said. 

The hope is that traffic can be eliminated overnight, but the project might not start until 2028. It’s also projected the service will not be ready until 2040. 

To learn more about the Link21 program, click or tap here.

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