Caltrain Celebrates Installation of Final Foundation for Electrification Project


Today, Caltrain, along with local dignitaries, celebrated the successful completion of all 3,092 foundations for the new overhead catenary system (OCS) that will support electrified Caltrain service. The 51-mile Caltrain Electrification project will be the first 25KV OCS system on the west coast and will provide power to the new state-of-the-art electric trains that will start arriving on the corridor in spring 2022.

Caltrain began construction on the project in 2017 and the foundation phase of construction has been complex due to challenging and unknowable site conditions in a 150-year-old right of way, working during a pandemic and on an active railroad. Completion of the foundations represents a turning point for the Caltrain Electrification Project that reduces future project costs and risks.

This is the first of several major project milestones this year. Within a couple months, the OCS system in the southern segment of the project will be “live” with energy flowing into the system, an AEM7 electric locomotive will begin testing the OCS and by summer 2022, the entire 51-mile corridor will be electrified. The first high-performance electric trains will arrive in spring, after completing 10 months of intensive testing at speeds up to 115mph at the Transportation Technology Center national test track in Pueblo, Colorado. While there are still difficult signal and system integration work ahead, the project is on track for a historic change and to be serving riders by 2024.  

“Today marks a major achievement in the history of Caltrain,” said Caltrain Acting Executive Director Michelle Bouchard. “This final foundation marks a turning point in the electrification of this railroad, towards a modern, efficient service that the people of the Bay Area deserve.”

“Caltrain has been the spine of the Peninsula’s transportation system since Abraham Lincoln was in office,” said Congressmember Anna Eshoo. “Electrification will modernize this 150-year-old railroad, improving local air quality by 97 percent, offering faster service, and carrying the equivalent of 5 ½ freeway lanes of traffic every hour. This is the world-class, modern, and climate-friendly electric transit system that our innovative region deserves.”

“I have advocated for Caltrain for 20 years.” said Congressmember Jackie Speier. “Electrification is a game changerputting Caltrain on the path to reduce carbon emissions by 97%, and cutting down each year the miles driven on our highways by 619,000 miles, all while creating good jobs across the country, making it exactly the kind of project the infrastructure law is designed to address.

“I’m proud that Caltrain has completed laying the foundation to electrify the system,” said Senator Scott Wiener. “This ensures that the Bay Area will have a modern rail system for generations, one that protects our environment. I look forward to working with our federal and local partners to support finishing this project.”

“The electrification of Caltrain is not just an important milestone, but it will make history. Caltrain will be the first electrified rail line in California,” said Assemblymember Kevin Mullin. “Caltrain will be the first electrified rail line in California. This project is crucial locally, statewide and nationally, because this region and this corridor is a hub of creativity and entrepreneurship that have changed our country. Caltrain is the spine that helps support our innovation economy.  I was proud to author AB 1889 in 2016 to ensure state funds were available for electrification and I am dedicated to closing the funding gap on this project by working with my legislative colleagues and Governor Newsom to get it over the finish line”

“As Assembly Budget Chair, it’s exciting to see state funding at work on transformational projects, such as the electrification of Caltrain. Today’s milestone means cleaner, climate-friendly transit and improved air quality are within reach for the region,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting. “I can’t wait for it to start running.”

“The Caltrain Board has talked about the Electrification foundations for years and it is nice to have closure and remove a significant risk from the project, said Director Shamann Walton, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Caltrain Board Member. When completed in 2024, an Electrified Caltrain will offer a much faster, more frequent, and more reliable public transit option to connect San Francisco to the Peninsula and South Bay.

"Through our consistent collaboration with the Caltrain team and our industry partners, we persevered to solve many challenging obstacles and complexities during this phase. The success of reaching this significant milestone is attributable to our strong partnership with Caltrain," said Eric Stenman, Balfour Beatty president of U.S. operations. "We look forward to continuing the momentum built and are honored to be a part of a project that will bring greater sustainability to California's transit system."

The project requires an additional $462 million over initial estimates. Caltrain is working with its funding partners, as well as its federal and state legislative delegations to fill the funding gap. To date, Caltrain has received an additional $52.4M from the federal government; has access to $150M financing credit and $60M in Measure RR capital reserve towards the funding gap.

The electrification of the Caltrain system will deliver major benefits to the communities that it serves. Electrification will reduce Caltrain’s greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate the particulate matter caused by the aging diesel engines. Electrified service will lay the foundation to meet the goal of tripling capacity by 2040, the equivalent of carrying 5.5 lanes to U.S. Highway 101. Service will become both more frequent and more comfortable, as state-of-the-art electric trains replace Caltrain’s current aging fleet. The project has also created thousands of jobs locally and throughout the country, both to electrify the corridor and to assemble the new trains, which include components from across the country. Finally, the infrastructure that is being installed will be compatible with future high-speed rail on the corridor.


About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with commute service to Gilroy. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad celebrated 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the corridor, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.

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