Caltrain electrification design-build gets nod

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., has signed California Senate Bill (SB) 785, legislation that allows the Caltrain electrification project to proceed as a design/build procurement. The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board’s (Caltrain’s owner/operator) authority to issue design/build contracts expires at the end of this year, but SB 785 extends the authorization until 2024. Officials said extension of design/ build authority was necessary for the project to proceed as planned.

In September 2013, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board approved the use of the design/build contracting approach for designing and installing the electrification infrastructure. A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) has been issued to potential contractors. A Request for Proposals (RFP) will be issued January 2015. A contract award is expected in fall 2015.

Part of the Caltrain Modernization Program, the electrification project will transform the system from a diesel-locomotive-based service to an electrified system equipped with high-performance multiple-unit electric trains that operate off overhead catenary. “The electric trains will enhance capacity and allow the system to deliver cleaner, quieter, shorter trip times and, potentially, more frequent service for the corridor,” PCJPB said.

“After years of substantial ridership growth, Caltrain’s diesel system can no longer meet existing ridership demand,” the agency said. “Electrification will support service levels that help accommodate regional job and population growth and will help prepare the corridor to eventually accommodate California’s planned high-speed rail system. It will allow Caltrain to almost double the system’s forecasted daily ridership by 2040. Greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 177,000 metric tons, automobile vehicle miles traveled will shrink by 619,000 miles daily, and billions of dollars in economic value will be created, including nearly 100,000 new jobs.”

Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with limited commute service to Gilroy.

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