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A westbound BNSF freight train passes pods of concrete ties on the DuPont property in Oakley, Calif., on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. The ties are part of an ongoing project to expand the BNSF Railway's mainline to two tracks. (Glenn Gehlke/Bay Area News Group)

OAKLEY -- A Caltrans rail project that's in the Oakley area will help get passengers to their destination faster.

Work crews are installing ties to add a second rail along a 3.4-mile section of track extending west from Vintage Parkway in Oakley.

Working on behalf of Caltrans, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. launched the $26.5 million undertaking in September 2012 with the goal of enabling Amtrak trains to pass through the area more quickly.

The work is scheduled to be completed in fall 2015.

Freight trains and those Amtrak operates currently share a single BNSF track, which means a train must pull onto a siding to allow another to pass, said BNSF Director of Public Affairs Lena Kent.

Most of the work is being done at night to free up the rails for passenger service during the day, she said.

Construction also will involve building road crossings for traffic, Caltrans spokesman Mark Dinger said.

The project is the third of five that Caltrans is doing in East Contra Costa County between Oakley and Port Chicago, all of them designed to improve service on Amtrak's San Joaquin Line, Dinger said.

With double tracks in place, the state -- which subsidizes 100 percent of Amtrak's operations in California -- eventually might add another Amtrak train to the six that now pass through the area every day, he said.

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.


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