A three-month deferral of a $647-million federal grant to electrify 52 miles of commuter rail in northern California ended May 22, as the Federal Transit Administration announced it would release the funds. In February, a group of Republicans wrote a letter to new U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, urging her to defer the grant. The project will convert to electricity a diesel-based system and increase capacity to 110,000 from 65,000 daily riders. “Over the past few years, more than $1.3 billion was secured from local, regional and state commitments, and contracts were awarded to design and eventually construct the project,” said Jim Hartnett, CEO of Caltrain.