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Current Planning Activities

Link21 is a multi-phased, long-range rail infrastructure program that will improve our Northern California transportation network for generations to come. The Program is being implemented through close coordination with agency partners, community stakeholders, and the public. Since mid-2022, we have been in the Project Identification phase, which will take us from concept development to a proposed project for Environmental Review. We obtained stakeholder input, conducted analyses, and followed a Business Case Framework that established our goals, objectives, and criteria for evaluating these multiple concepts.

Identifying the Right Train Network Solution

Link21 is working to identify rail improvements to our train network, providing riders with faster, more connected, equitable, affordable, and accessible options for moving around the Megaregion. To do this, we have been exploring and assessing concepts for a new train crossing of the San Francisco Bay as well as other key service and supporting infrastructure improvements for both the BART and Regional Rail networks. Assessment considers the Megaregion’s projected population, changing workforce needs, travel patterns, air quality and climate change impacts, and more.

This early work is critical in identifying the right project for Link21 that will build upon the significant rail investment being made throughout the Megaregion. A second train crossing of the Bay will amplify benefits to riders and communities creating a more integrated network that offers riders reliable travel options to reach their desired destination.

Current planning activities include:

  • Service planning to identify improvements that address the travel needs expressed by Megaregional stakeholders
  • Evaluation and refinement of crossing concepts that include options for new or improved connections on either side of the Bay
  • Analysis of the benefits and tradeoffs of having a second BART crossing or a new Regional Rail crossing
  • Collection of early environmental data that identifies community constraints and opportunities to guide exploration
  • Ridership modeling and cost estimating
  • Governance and funding exploration

Moving Toward an Important Decision

In early to mid-2024, the Link21 Program will go to the BART and Capitol Corridor Boards of Directors with a recommendation of whether the new crossing should have BART-gauge tracks or Regional Rail (standard-gauge) tracks. BART operates as a closed system on broad-gauge tracks that can only be accessed by BART trains while Regional Rail operates on standard-gauge tracks that are used by all trains running on the national railroad network. Each offers benefits and trade-offs but have implications for the type of service and trips a future Link21 Project could enable for riders.

This decision on train-technology in the crossing is an important step toward defining a preliminary project for further analysis in the environmental review phase. Over the next two years, Link21 will continue collaborating with our agency and community partners to assess options for new or improved connections, service improvements, and rail alignments.

To learn more about the preliminary project exploration process, please visit the Concepts page.

Ongoing Equitable Engagement

The Link21 Team is working directly and proactively with communities through a variety of ongoing engagement and outreach activities. In addition, we are connecting with Megaregional communities at key milestones in the technical work, where timely input is critical to decision-making. These activities include:

  • Targeted activities with agency partners, elected officials, youth, tribal, and priority population communities
  • Active partnerships with community-based organizations to co-create activities with their communities.
  • Regular workshops with the Link21 Equity Advisory Council
  • In-person and virtual events such as community and train-station tabling, briefings, and presentations
Early Environmental Activities

Link21 is planning ahead to make sure that all future projects support and comply with state and federal environmental requirements. Initial environmental activities include data collection to identify environmental constraints and opportunities that are helping to guide the refinement of concepts. Assessment is also focused on understanding potential Environmental Justice* effects and benefits.

*Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. 

Planning Work

Planning work includes close coordination with agency partners to share and collaborate on concept options that will best serve future travel needs. Activities include: 

What's Next:

The train technology crossing decision has some implications to the Link21 passenger experience, and how we will connect to and improve service within the larger train network. Following this decision in Spring 2024, the Link21 Program will continue working closely with agency and community stakeholders to further develop and refine options that include but are not limited to new station locations and access, existing station improvements, land use opportunities around stations, and track alignment. These refined options will lead to the identification of a proposed Project to advance into the next phase of planning - Project Selection Phase.

Stay engaged with Link21 to shape our Northern California future connected train network making travel by train the option of choice and a better, more equitable experience.