Valley Rail

Valley Rail

What is Valley Rail?

Valley Rail implements two new daily round-trips for the Amtrak San Joaquins service to better connect San Joaquin Valley travelers with the Sacramento Area, and an extension of Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) between Sacramento and Merced which builds upon ACE funding from Senate Bill (SB) 132. In addition, Valley Rail will convert the entire fleet including the thruway bus network to renewable diesel fuel, providing greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits across the entire existing (449 track miles) and proposed expanded (119 track miles) San Joaquins and ACE services.

Why is Valley Rail important to California?

Valley Rail improves geographic equity by connecting key locations in the Central Valley including Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, and Fresno Counties to each other and beyond to the Bay Area and the greater California rail network via three future high-speed rail (HSR) connections in Madera, Merced, and San Jose. This transformative, megaregional project helps further the State’s vision for an integrated rail network and provides direct mobility and air quality benefits to citizens in nine counties, including over 30% of the disadvantaged communities in California.  SJJPA SJRRC TIRCP Grant Announcement Press Release

Valley Rail Service Plan

Current Valley Rail Progress

Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report

On September 12, 2019, notice was given that SJRRC and SJJPA intend to jointly prepare an environmental impact report (EIR), consistent with requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The purpose of the EIR is to evaluate associated with the proposed improvements included in the Valley Rail Sacramento Extension Project. SJRRC will serve as the lead agency under CEQA for the EIR.

SJRRC invites comments on the scope and context of the environmental information from all relevant public agencies that are germane to each agency’s statutory responsibilities with regard to the Project. We are also requesting interested individuals’ or organizations’ views on the scope of the environmental document.

[Click here] to view the full Notice of Preparation (NOP), which includes more information on the Project.

Based on environmental clearance and funding, the Valley Rail Program consists of two segments one South and one North of Stockton. Each segment includes several projects each with individual costs and schedules.

The Northern segment extends ACE service from Stockton to Natomas and includes additional San Joaquins service.  The Northern segment does not follow the current San Joaquins alignment but provides new ACE and San Joaquins service on a new alignment closer to Interstate 5. Valley Rail North is currently in the environmental preliminary engineering phase which is expected to be completed in early 2020. After the environmental phase is completed, final design will commence for the selected project alternative. The Southern segment extends ACE to Ceres/Merced. The Valley Rail South extension has already completed the environmental phase and is in the final engineering phase. In May 2019, the SJRRC Board approved multiple contracts for both segments. Current contract work includes engineering and property assessments for different station and track work locations at Ceres, Modesto, Manteca, Lathrop, Stockton, Lodi, Elk Grove, Mid-Town Sacramento, and Natomas. Additional contracts will be awarded in the future for stations and associated track work.

In addition to the projects in the Valley Rail Program associated with new service north and south of Stockton, $26 million in funding was also provided to relocate the San Joaquins Madera Station. In May 2019, the SJJPA Board approved a contract for the Madera Station Relocation Project, and the environmental phase is expected to begin in Fall 2019. The project will evaluate project alternatives to construct a new station at Avenue 12 and will be designed to accommodate a future high speed rail connection. For more information about the Madera Station Relocation Project, [Click Here].


Valley Rail: March 2019 Update

Click to view PDF presentation (updated March 2019)


Altamont Corridor Vision

Click to visit the Altamont Corridor Vision Page

Project Highlights



New Stations


New Daily Round Trips


Of Disadvantaged Communities in California Served


Million Metric Tons of CO2 GHG Reduction by 2027
Improve Public Health and Reduce Fatalities/Injuries
New Trainsets for San Joaquins and ACE

Frequently Asked Questions

When will the first Valley Rail trains operate?

The first Valley Rail train(s) are anticipated to operate in Fiscal Year 2021/2022.

Who owns the tracks that Valley Rail is improving?

The Valley Rail Program is funded to make improvements on both Union Pacific Railroad and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks.

How many stations are being built as a part of the Valley Rail Program?

The Valley Rail Program is funded to build up to 16 stations.

What are the funding sources associated with Valley Rail?

The Valley Rail Program is funded through a combination State, Federal, and Local funding sources. State funding for the Program includes: Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP), Senate Bill (SB) 132 funding for the ACE Extension to Ceres/Merced, State Rail Assistance (SRA) Program, and Proposition 1A. Federal funding includes: Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program, FTA 5307 Funds, and 2016 Earmark Repurposing. Local funding includes: San Joaquin County Measure K Sales Tax and Stanislaus County Local Transportation Fund (LTF). Most of the Valley Rail capital costs have been funded through the $500.5 million SJJPA/SJRRC April 2018 TIRCP grant, and the $400 million provided to SJRRC from SB 132 in 2017.

How is Valley Rail different from ACEforward?

ACEforward is a program that seeks to improve and expand service for ACE®. Valley Rail is a joint program that includes improvements and expansions of both ACE and Amtrak San Joaquins that is focused on improvements between Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley.

When will Valley Rail be completed?

Valley Rail is anticipated to be completed by the end of Fiscal Year 2026/2027.

What are the environmental benefits of the Valley Rail Program?

Valley Rail is anticipated to reduce GHG Emission of 5.2 MMT of CO2 by 2025. Additionally, the Valley Rail Program converts Amtrak San Joaquins and ACE service to renewable fuel which will reduce 1.9 MMT of CO2. Valley Rail’s increased rail ridership is anticipated to reduce 88.4 million vehicle miles traveled by 2025.

How does Valley Rail improve travel to the Bay Area?

Valley Rail extends one ACE round trip to/from Sacramento and one round-trip to Ceres/Merced which expands the markets served by direct ACE service between the Central Valley and the Bay Area. In addition, Valley Rail provides three ACE round trips from Ceres to Sacramento (Natomas) which will connect to ACE trains traveling to the Bay Area by using the North Lathrop Transfer Station. Valley Rail also provides additional coaches and new, more powerful, and more environmentally locomotives for ACE trains which increase the capacity to move passengers on ACE to the Bay Area and between the Tri-Valley and Silicon Valley. By expanding ACE markets, Valley Rail is helping to increase the need for further improving service between the Central Valley and Bay Area via the Altamont Corridor.

What other transit connections can I use with Valley Rail?

Valley Rail will provide shuttle service to/from Sacramento International Airport via the Natomas Station. California High Speed Rail service will connect to Valley Rail in Merced. Valley Rail will link to Sacramento RT at City College, Midtown, and Old North Sacramento Stations as well as Sacramento Valley Station. Valley Link Service will connect to the Valley Rail service (initially at the North Lathrop Transfer Station). Valley Rail ACE service connects to the Capitol Corridor (sharing Fremont, Great America, Santa Clara, and San Jose stations), and Caltrain (and ultimately high-speed rail) at San Jose. ACE links to VTA’s light rail services and buses at Great America, and San Jose stations and VTA buses at Santa Clara. ACE has numerous free shuttles (provided by VTA) at Great America to take commuters to their offices, and one at Pleasanton to serve the Hacienda Business Park. ACE provides an express shuttle bus link to BART at its Pleasanton Station.

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