Peninsula Commute

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See Caltrain for the commuter rail service currently operating on the San Francisco Peninsula.
West of Santa Clara, a Southern Pacific EMD SD9 leads a two-car train before the Caltrain takeover

The Peninsula Commute, also known as the Southern Pacific Peninsula or just Peninsula, was the common name for commuter rail service between San Jose, California and San Francisco, California on the San Francisco Peninsula. This service ran as a private, for-profit enterprise beginning in 1863. Due to operating losses, the Southern Pacific Railroad petitioned to discontinue the service in 1977. Subsidies were provided through the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in 1980 to continue service, and it was renamed Caltrain.

History[edit]

Since 1863 the San Francisco Peninsula, the series of towns (and later, cities) between San Francisco and San Jose, has been served by a railroad. The Southern Pacific (SP) first provided freight and passenger service, followed briefly by the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) and finally a Joint Powers Board which runs today's passenger trains.

The railroad between San Francisco and San Jose was completed in 1863 by the San Francisco and San Jose Rail Road, which was purchased by Southern Pacific in 1870.

Under Southern Pacific the line was double tracked in 1904 and had record ridership during World War II. After the war, ridership declined with the rise of automobile use. Several times during the 1960s and 1970s, SP talked about discontinuing the money-losing commute service. In 1971 when Amtrak took over long distance passenger operations, Southern Pacific's extended commute train to Monterey, California, the "Del Monte", was discontinued, but other commute trains continued. All SP passenger locomotives were transferred to Peninsula commute service except for those which were sold to Amtrak. In 1977 SP filed a petition with the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to discontinue the commuter operation due to the ongoing losses.

To preserve the commuter service, Caltrans in 1980 contracted with SP to operate the service and began to subsidize it. During the Caltrans' administration, Caltrans purchased new locomotives and cars that replaced the SP equipment in 1985, upgraded stations, introduced shuttle buses to nearby employers, and renamed the operation Caltrain. Since that time, operation has been transferred from the State of California to the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board.

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