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Double-tracking proposed for Tehachapi Loop to increase rail capacity

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A long-sought project to upgrade the busy railroad line over the Tehachapi Pass could begin construction next year following approval of environmental studies and funding for the project by the California Transportation Commission.

Building the project is estimated to take seven years, with completion projected for 2020, reported Bill Deaver, chairman of the East Kern Economic Alliance, in the December issue of the Kern Business Journal.

The project involves double-tracking five segments of the 136-year-old line. Railroad and Caltrans officials say the project will result in a 70 percent improvement in capacity of the line, the rail component of the busy Tehachapi Pass “goods movement corridor” that includes Highway 58.

The 68-mile trip from Mojave to Bakersfield takes four hours for freight trains. Some 40 freight trains travel over the pass daily. Completion of the project is projected to increase that to 50 trains daily. The new line would have a capacity of up to 65 trains per day.