2018 California State Rail Plan

Connecting California …Better

Caltrans is beginning work on its new 2018 Rail Plan which will provide an exciting new framework for California’s rail network and set the stage for new and better rail and community connections in the State for the next 20 years and beyond.

The creation of a railroad network in California in the 19th century connected us to the rest of the nation with what was then the highest-speed form of transportation. Continued rail investments in the 20th century helped California’s rapid economic development. For the 21st century, California is again poised to put “high speed” back in rail, and achieve a modernized and integrated rail system to improve both freight and passenger transportation.

Rail can provide significant solutions to today’s transportation challenges:

  • Californians collectively take billions of trips to millions of destinations each year, and the state needs quality modal choices among cars, transit, air travel, and active transportation to efficiently move people and freight to their destinations.
  • California is the 8th largest economy in the world, with a population projected to increase to approximately 50 million by 2050 causing continued pressure on the State’s aging transportation infrastructure. California must make cost-effective investments in transportation infrastructure that minimize impacts on our communities and support economic growth – rail is often the best-value investment.
  • California has adopted aggressive greenhouse reduction targets and is showing the world that greenhouse gas reduction and economic growth are fully compatible. Rail, including electrified rail, is an effective way to help achieve the state’s greenhouse gas emission targets and achieve other air quality benefits.

Caltrans can respond to these challenges and continue to lead in this century...

Caltrans can respond to these challenges and continue to lead in this century by “returning to the future” –with a rail system that will provide safe, convenient, frequent, and reliable travel options across the state. Caltrans is planning for an integrated passenger rail network for intercity, commuter and high speed rail that is based on successful domestic and international rail models with transfer stations that allow for efficient connections in coordination with local transit systems allowing door to door alternatives to driving. The system builds upon and supports strong existing regional systems that are under local control.

The concept expands the reach of the passenger rail system to maximize ridership and market-capture potential and supports growth in the efficient movement of freight by rail, which in turn benefits California by reducing roadway congestion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2018 Rail Plan will present a vision and strategies for California’s future passenger and freight rail network that will guide state investments supporting implementation of an integrated rail network.

The Rail Plan is not being developed in a vacuum - it is one of several companion planning documents to the 2040 California Transportation Plan which seeks to build on regional initiatives for curbing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change by coordinating statewide planning for all transportation modes, including air, roads and highways, local and regional public transit, and passenger and freight rail.



The mission of the 2018 Rail Plan is to provide a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient California rail network that successfully moves people and goods while enhancing the State’s economy and livability.


How to Get Involved

The planning process for the 2018 Rail Plan is designed to allow early stakeholder and public input. Please contact us with any questions or suggestions, fill out the preliminary survey and join us at future public events, which will be noticed on this website.

Contact Information

Mailing Address:

California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
Division of Rail and Mass Transportation
2018 California State Rail Plan
Rail Planning Branch

1120 N Street, MS 74
Sacramento, CA 95814

General Information:

Email: RailPlan@dot.ca.gov