With the completion of the San Francisco to San Jose rail line in 1864, the transformation of the Peninsula was set in motion, marked by an ability to serve a restless population that wanted to travel great distances quickly and effectively.
The introduction of rail service shortened an eight-hour steamboat and stagecoach trip to just a three-and-a half hour train ride and cut travel costs from $30 to $3. The railway spurred growth on the Peninsula and in Silicon Valley, fostering the development of what has become one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economic engines.
Today, the rail system continues to power the region’s economy by connecting Peninsula residents with major employment centers, schools, shopping and other important services.
Over the past decade, Caltrain has made important service improvements that have led to extraordinary ridership gains. Today the system serves a record-breaking 54,000 riders on an average weekday. With commute hour trains operating near and beyond capacity, Caltrain must modernize to add capacity, sustain continued ridership growth and continue to meet the growing financial, social and environmental needs of the communities it serves.
The Caltrain Modernization Program will realize the next generation of the railroad by transforming the existing diesel service into an electrified system that provides cleaner, quieter, much-improved service to more riders.
1. Caltrain Modernization
Caltrain Modernization (CalMod) includes the electrification of the existing Caltrain corridor between San Francisco and San Jose; the installation of an advanced signal system, called Communications Based Overlay Signal System Positive Train Control (CBOSS PTC), that includes federally mandated safety improvements; and the replacement of Caltrain's diesel trains with high-performance electric trains called Electric Multiple Units.
Simply stated, Caltrain will be modernized to provide more service to more stations, carry more riders, reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the corridor substantially and allow the system to be more cost-effective to operate.
The approximate $1.5 billion program is funded through a nine-party agreement that leverages local, regional and federal funding to match $706 million in voter-approved high-speed rail bond revenues.
2. Advanced Signal System (CBOSS PTC)
The Advanced Signal System (CBOSS PTC) will equip the corridor with federally-mandated safety technology to monitor and control train movements from San Francisco to Tamien station in San Jose. The project, which will also help increase system capacity, is scheduled to be operational in 2015.
• Improved safety by eliminating the risk of train-to-train collisions, enforcing speed limits, and
improving safety for railroad workers
• Increased system reliability and operating performance through schedule management, reduced
gate downtime, and enforced scheduled station stops
• More efficient train spacing which will result in improved capacity and more dependable service
• Interoperable with all other rail systems on the Caltrain corridor, including commuter, freight,
and future High-Speed Rail
3. Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project
The Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project is a key component of the Caltrain Modernization Program, which will replace approximately 75% of the current train vehicles from diesel-hauled to Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) between San Francisco and Tamien Station in San Jose. The project includes installation of new electrical infrastructure and the purchase of electrified trains. Caltrain diesel-powered locomotives will continue to provide service between Gilroy and San Francisco.
• Improved air quality through quieter, cleaner trains and reduced engine noise
• Faster and/or more frequent service
• Improved train performance with trains that can accelerate and decelerate more quickly than diesel powered trains - even with longer trains and increased capacity
• Increased service from five to six trains per peak hour, per direction
• Increased revenue and reduced cost through increased ridership and lower fuel costs
• Installation of electrical infrastructure that is compatible with future High-Speed Rail
4. Regional Support
In 2012, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the California High Speed Rail Authority, Caltrain and six other San Francisco Bay Area funding partners established an agreement to support the blended system and to invest early in the Caltrain Modernization Program.
This early investment will fund the delivery of modernized, electrified Caltrain service by 2019. Additional system upgrades to the electrified system will be required to support a blended system that is shared by Caltrain and High-Speed Rail by 2026 - 2029.
The support for the Caltrain Modernization Program extends further than the nine-party funding agreement. The program is supported by a broad coalition of the region’s most prominent elected officials and community leaders.
5. Benefits to the Bay Area
Electrified trains can accelerate and decelerate more quickly than diesel-powered trains, allowing Caltrain to run more efficiently. In addition, because of their performance advantages, electrified trains will enable more frequent and/or faster train service to more riders. Increased capacity and improved service will help Caltrain meet increasing ridership demand and alleviate regional traffic congestion.
Modernization will also help support the financial sustainability of the system by increasing ridership and fare revenue, and reducing operating costs associated with replacing diesel fuel with electricity. These efforts will substantially reduce the financial subsidy required to operate the system.
Modernization also creates regional job opportunities and other valuable economic benefits that are critical to the economic welfare of our region and our state. The Bay Area Council Economic Institute released a study that showed modernizing the Caltrain commuter service would create the equivalent of almost 9,600 jobs, increase property values and generate overall economic benefits of up to $2.5 billion.
Electrified operations will produce substantial reductions in corridor air pollution emissions when compared with diesel locomotives, even when the indirect emissions from electrical power generation are included. Increased ridership will reduce regional automobile usage, resulting in additional air quality benefits. In addition, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will help meet the State’s emission reduction and air quality improvement goals.
6. Blended System
Following several years of outreach and discussion on High Speed Rail's use of the Peninsula corridor between San Jose and San Francisco, a coalition of federal and state lawmakers proposed the "blended system" approach. Rather than requiring a full four-track build-out, the new approach would allow Caltrain and High Speed Rail to primarily share the same tracks and infrastructure to support operations on this corridor. This approach will allow HSR to use Caltrain's existing system, minimizing impacts to neighboring communities and reducing the overall cost to construct the Peninsula segment of the system.
In 2012, Caltrain, the California High-Speed Rail Authority and seven other San Francisco Bay Area partners established an agreement to support the blended system and to invest early in the Caltrain Modernization Program. This early investment will fund the delivery of modernized, electrified Caltrain service by 2019. Additional system planning, environmental review and upgrades will be required to support a blended system that is shared by Caltrain and High-Speed Rail by 2026 - 2029.