Caltrain awards electrification, EMU contracts

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Caltrain’s Board of Directors on July 7, 2016 approved $1.25 billion in contracts with Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc. and Stadler U.S. Inc. to begin work on the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP).

Balfour Beatty Infrastructure won the design-build contract for the corridor’s electrification infrastructure. Stadler U.S. won the contract for manufacture of high-performance electric multiple-unit (EMU) trainsets.

The contracts were approved with a Limited Notice to Proceed. A Full Notice to Proceed will be issued following completion of a funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration, which is expected to be finalized later this year, Caltrain said. Local and state investment in the project has been secured through a series of agreements between Caltrain and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission; Caltrain’s member agencies in San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties; and the California High Speed Rail Authority.

The remaining funds will be secured through federal programs focused on increasing ridership capacity on existing transit systems. In 2015, Caltrain applied for $647 million from the FTA Core Capacity Program. In February, the Obama Administration allocated nearly $73 million in prior-year funding to the project and requested that another $125 million be included in the 2017 federal budget.

“The award of these contracts marks an important milestone in Caltrain’s 150-year history,” said Caltrain Executive Director Jim Hartnett. “The Caltrain Modernization Program is the most transformative project this corridor has ever undertaken. It offers unique economic, environmental and mobility benefits to the region and it is a key link in a High Speed Rail network that will transform the way we think about transportation in California.”

“This long-held vision for the corridor is finally moving forward, and it can’t happen soon enough,” said Caltrain Board Chair Perry Woodward. “With these investments, Caltrain will be able to provide faster, more frequent service to the communities, businesses and commuters that depend on the system every day.”

Caltrain expects to begin rollout of electrified passenger service in winter 2020.

“When complete, the PCEP will help address rapidly growing ridership by allowing the operation of more service that will accommodate more riders,” Caltrain noted. “The project will also significantly decrease vehicle-miles travelled and greenhouse gas emissions throughout the Peninsula Corridor. Additionally, the project lays the foundation for the eventual operation of high-speed rail service that will connect the Bay Area to the rest of the state.”

Caltrain said it “is struggling to accommodate unprecedented regional growth, with six consecutive years of record-setting ridership and a near-doubling of ridership since 2010. As Highways 101 and 280 have become more and more congested, Caltrain has become a preferred commute option between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. As a result, peak hour service is well over 100% capacity, with ridership on some trains exceeding 125% of available seats. Not only will the PCEP improve train performance and increase ridership, it will provide substantial environmental benefits to the region’s air quality through a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise be present through the use of diesel powered trains. ‘

“An electrified Caltrain system will improve regional air quality by up to 97%, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 176,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent and take more than 619,000 daily vehicle-miles off the region’s roadways by 2040. Reductions in air pollutant emissions represent long-term health benefits and will enhance the quality of life for Caltrain riders, residents and employees adjacent to the Caltrain corridor. The corridor is arguably the most economically productive area in the state. The communities and businesses served by the 51-mile railroad are responsible for 14% of the state’s GDP and 20% of its tax revenue, and are the birthplace of more than half of California patents. The region cannot continue to thrive without equipping the 150-year-old rail corridor with a modernized transit system capable of accommodating current and future ridership demand.“

For more on the coalition of civic, business, resident and rider representatives calling for a modernized Caltrain, view the Caltrain Modernization video HERE.

View details on electrification benefits HERE.











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