Valley Link, the proposed commuter rail project that would connect the Northern San Joaquin Valley with the 131-mile BART system with 50 stations throughout the Bay Area, will be operated by the same agency that runs the Altamont Corridor Express.

The Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority has entered into an agreement for the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission to operate Valley Link that is working toward a 2028 start-up date. The SJRRC also manages the Amtrak San Joaquin.

The Valley Link system ultimately means commuters in Ceres, Modesto, Ripon, and Manteca could get go all the way to downtown San Francisco via ACE with transfers to Valley Link and BART. Lathrop commuters could take Valley Link and switch to BART.

Valley Link has $988 million of the $1.8 billion plus in funds committed needed for the initial phase.

That initial phase would  connect with the new North Lathrop ACE station that will be built in the vicinity of Sharpe Army Depot when ACE service is extended southward through Manteca and Ripon to Ceres and northward through Stockton and Sacramento to the Natomas just miles from Sacramento International Airport.

Valley Link’s first phase includes seven stations – North Lathrop, River Islands, Downtown Tracy, Mountain House, Greenville near Livermore, Isabel and Dublin/Pleasanton where passengers can connect with the BART system.

The overall travel time from Lathrop to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station would be approximately 61 to 65 minutes depending on direction of travel. The 2040 service plan includes 12-minute peak period headways and two-minute off-peak headways with more limited service on the weekend.

The second phase would extend service into Stockton.

The 42-mile right of way includes 16.1 miles of Union Pacific track in San Joaquin County, 14.5 miles of the old Western Pacific track that Southern Pacific deeded to Alameda County in 1984, and 11.7 miles down the median of Interstate 580 where it will connect with BART trains at the Dublin/Pleasanton station

Additional potential infill stations include Ellis Historical in Tracy, Grant Line Road in Alameda County (west of Tracy), and South Front in Livermore.

The maintenance and operations facility would be located in Tracy.

By 2040, Valley Link is expected to take 33,000 vehicles off of the Altamont Pass. Prior to the pandemic there were 93,398 vehicles crossing the Altamont on an average day.

Additional information on the Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority, is available on the Regional Rail Authority’s website at www.valleylinkrail.com.

Depending upon the technology chosen for the locomotives — diesel, electric battery or hydrogen — Valley Link could eliminate between 33,000 to 42,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.