NEW PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICE FOR THE COACHELLA VALLEY IN THE WORKS
It looks like we may finally see a Passenger Train Station in the Coachella Valley! As reported in the Desert Sun this week, The project pased it’s first and most difficult environmental impact study, clearing the way for the project to move forward, to the next environmental study. The approval of the document is considered “the largest project milestone to date,” RCTC Rail Manager Sheldon Peterson said.
24 members of the Riverside County Transportation Commission that attended Wednesday’s meeting unanimously approved the environmental study. This Tier 1 study included things like train routes and needed infrastructure improvements. For example, while the Tier 1 document might identify that a railroad bridge is needed in a specific location, the Tier 2 document would analyze the engineering, design, and site-level impacts of that bridge, RCTC staff explained Wednesday.
The approval of this Tier 1 document means that staff can move on to the Tier 2 document, which will analyze more local site-specific impacts of the rail infrastructure and station locations. The Tier 2 study will require about $60 million in funding, so far they have about $30 million. They’re working on securing both Federal and State funding.
Once the Tier 2 study is approved, then they can start working on the design process, and then construction. Construction is still years away, and there is no target date for construction to start or completion. Funding will need to be secured for design, right-of-way acquisitions, and construction of the estimated $1 billion project at completion.
Four Stops Planned in the Coachella Valley
The rail line will be 144 miles and travel along the existing rail corridor parallel to the I-5, Route 91 and I-10. The passenger train would use the existing train stations in LA, Fullerton, Riverside and Palm Springs and build five new stations, with two here in the Valley, Indio and Coachella. The train will make two round trips per day in the morning and evening and take 3 hours and 15 minutes each way. It will require a third rail between Colton and the Coachella Valley, to supplement the existing two rails currently running through the valley.
The 2020 Census shows a population of 370,135 people in the nine contiguous cities that make up the Coachella Valley. This new passenger rail could save as many as 107,344 vehicle trips per year in its opening year, with 178,045 vehicle trips per year reduced in future years, according to the Tier 1 environmental impact report. This could result in the reduction of around 858,380 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.