Caltrain EMU Testing Under Way

Written by Kevin Smith, Editor-in-Chief, International Railway Journal
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Caltrain photo

Testing with 25kV AC electric traction has commenced between Santa Clara and College Park on the Santa Clara Drill Track in California, the first time electric trains have run on the Caltrain network and another major milestone in the commuter railway’s landmark electrification program.

Tests are taking place with seven-car double-deck Stadler KISS EMUs. Caltrain says these tests will extend to the main line between San Antonio and San Jose Diridon later this summer.

The $2.4 billion project involves electrifying 51 miles of infrastructure, from 4th and King Street station in San Francisco to Tamien station in San Jose.

Caltrain says that 99% of the catenary masts and 81% of the overhead line are now installed with infrastructure complete and undergoing testing between Palo Alto and San Jose. Construction is continuing between San Francisco and Menlo Park and all infrastructure work is set to be completed by October after which testing of the new train fleet and infrastructure will be extended to the entire network. Commercial electric services are scheduled to commence in autumn 2024, Caltrain told IRJ.

Caltrain awarded Stadler a $551 million contract to supply 16 six-car EMUs in August 2016 with an option to extend these sets to seven-car trains exercised in December 2018. The 110-mph-capable trainsets have been built at the manufacturer’s plant in Salt Lake City, and there are options worth $385 million under the original contract to supply up to 96 additional railcars.

Caltrain has received four EMUs with further deliveries expected this autumn. The EMUs will replace F40 diesel locomotives—approximately 75% of Caltrain’s diesel fleet—which entered service in 1985. Its newer locomotives will be retained to operate the non-electrified Dumbarton extension and services south of Tamien.

“The start of testing for our new electric trains marks an historic moment for our agency, symbolizing tangible progress toward electrification,” says recently appointed Caltrain Executive Director Michelle Bouchard. “It signifies a future of improved service, reduced environmental impact and a more reliable experience that will benefit both our riders and the communities that we serve.”

Caltrain’s Board of Directors on June 2 approved its Fiscal Year 2024 and Fiscal Year 2025 operating and capital budgets at the rail agency’s monthly board meeting. According to Caltrain, the FY24 operating budget is in the amount of $192.7 million while FY25 will be $238.1 million.

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