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Caltrain appoints Burns to oversee electrification effort

Michael Burns, the former chief executive officer of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), will oversee Caltrain's $1.7 billion Modernization Program, Caltrain Executive Director Jim Hartnett announced yesterday.

Burns, who retired from the VTA post in 2014, was appointed interim chief of Caltrain's program effective Feb. 8, according to a Caltrain press release.

He will succeed outgoing Chief Caltrain Modernization Officer Marian Lee, who is stepping down to become assistant city manager with South San Francisco later this month.

The "most transformative project" in Caltrain's 150-year history, the Modernization Program includes the electrification of the existing Caltrain corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.; the installation of a communications based overlay signal system positive train control (CBOSS PTC), an advanced signal system that includes the federally mandated safety improvements; and the replacement of Caltrain's diesel trains with high performance electric trains, Caltrain officials said.

Burns began working with the modernization team in 2015 to support planning for Caltrain initiatives in San Francisco and ongoing coordination with the state's high-speed rail project.

"Michael has more than 40 years of experience, the majority of which was spent overseeing rail programs across the country," Hartnett said. "Under Michael’s leadership, VTA received the federal funding needed to finally bring BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to San Jose."

The Caltrain Modernization Program is funded through a nine-party agreement that leverages local, regional and federal funding to match $705 million in voter-approved high-speed rail bond revenue, according to Caltrain officials.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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