The project involves building a third rail line on the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way. Officials with Union Pacific, which would own the line, say the project would free up space for their freight train operations, which are expected to increase over time. UP would own the new tracks and pay to maintain them, but would not help pay to build them. Instead, it would grant Capitol Corridor the right to run 10 round-trip trains a day on the line.
The line would require construction of 11 overcrossings, including a train bridge over the American River adjacent to the existing rail bridge just west of the Capital City Freeway, and a new passenger platform at the Roseville Amtrak station.
Capitol Corridor officials say the new trains could be up and running by 2018 if the agency lands state and federal funding for the project. Most of the trains would continue on to the Bay Area after stopping in Sacramento. Trains would run from the downtown Roseville Amtrak station to the Sacramento Valley Station at Fifth and I streets in downtown Sacramento, a half-hour ride.
Although the project’s upfront construction costs are large, operational costs are likely to be minimal, according to Capitol Corridor planning manager Jim Allison. The extended service would use existing trains and crews. Allison said his agency’s research suggests south Placer County is a growth area for train ridership. “The whole Placer County area is a growing community, and they are open to the transit options.”
It seems a bit silly, I must admit, not to go whole hog and spend whatever is necessary to send these trains the additional 18 miles to Auburn. That said, the increased train frequencies should do a very good job of boosting ridership from Roseville. Right now the only Capitol Corridor train comes leaves at 7:03 in the morning and returns at 5:48 in the evening. That doesn't work for commuting, which is fairly common on the Capitols, and works even more poorly for attracting the leisure market which is the bread and butter of intercity rail (and 58% of Capitol Corridor ridership, page 13 of the ridership profile survey). These increased frequencies to Roseville should help to arrest the declining ridership that has been plaguing the Capitol Corridor for the past year.