Amtrak Capitol Corridor train no. 534 snakes its way along the Carquinez Strait near Pinole. (Photo by Jerry Huddleston/Flickr)

The long-desired goal of establishing train service in Hercules to serve commuters took a major step forward when the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority voted to give the city candidate station status.

The authority, which governs the operations of the Capitol Corridor rail service between Sacramento and San Jose, approved the status on Feb. 12.

“We are thrilled and want to thank the Capitol Corridor JPA and staff for supporting the next step for a new train station in Hercules,” Mayor Roland Esquivias said in a statement. “Our community has worked hard to make this happen for years, and today marks a hallmark day when we can say we are well on our way to a new train station.”

Hercules has been working for years to create a regional intermodal transportation center, described as “a federal, state and locally supported transportation hub that would connect this new train stop with bicycle, pedestrian, bus, and carpool service, and provide ferry service in the future.”

A major part of the goal is to relieve traffic on Interstate 80, long among the most congested corridors in the Bay Area.

“East Bay commuters head out the door every day only to come to a grinding halt on I-80,” Esquivias said. “It is consistently ranked the most congested transportation corridor in the Bay Area. Commuters are held hostage during rush hour in both directions, as well as during off-peak hours and weekends. The impact of congestion on our quality of life and our economy is incalculable, but we all know it is significant.”

The city maintains that the transit center would mean greater options at the junction of I-80 and state Highway 4.