Caltrain Retires 32 Diesel Passenger Cars as Electrification Nears

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(Note: This release has been updated to correct the bridge used to cross the Carquinez Straight.

Caltrain has shipped 32 of its nearly 40-year-old gallery cars to Sonoma as the agency makes room for its new electric fleet. These cars will travel through Warm Springs, Jack London Square and the Benicia-Martinez Railroad Bridge before being stored in Petaluma with Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) until they will be put up for sale and a buyer is found.  

Caltrain currently has eight of the eventual 23 electric trainsets on its property. As additional electric trainsets make their way to Caltrain’s Central Equipment Maintenance and Operations Facility (CEMOF), Caltrain had to begin relocating older vehicles to ensure there was enough room for both the new equipment and standard operations. These gallery cars were not in service, and their retirement will not affect Caltrain service. 

The passenger cars were built in San Francisco by Nippon Sharyo and first started rolling down the Caltrain corridor in 1985, when the agency was still operated by Caltrans. They have served millions of riders over their nearly 40 years of service and have supported the growth of Caltrain and the surrounding region over the years. Caltrain hosted a small event for the public and rail fans at the Santa Clara Station Historic Rail Museum to send off the trains. The rest of the Nippon Sharyo passenger cars will be retired at the start of electrified service in fall 2024. 

Caltrain’s historic Electrification Project is the first undertaking in North America in a generation in which diesel trains and their infrastructure components are transitioned to an electrified system. Electrification means faster and more frequent service, including doubling the frequency on weekends. The passenger experience will be greatly improved as well with the new trains featuring Wi-Fi, power outlets at every seat, onboard displays with digital trip information, increased storage capacities.   

Electrification will also help meet ambitious regional and state climate action goals by lowering greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and relieving traffic congestion. Additionally, electrified service will advance equity along the corridor by reducing noise and air pollution while increasing access for priority equity communities. It will also set the framework for California’s future High Speed Rail network that will run on the Caltrain corridor.   

The proposed Electrification service plan would see weekday peak hour trains go to 79 stations per hour, an increase from the current 66. Eleven stations would experience four train arrivals hourly per direction, a notable improvement from seven stations currently. Midday trains would cover 44 stations per hour, up from 34 today. 


About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with commute service to Gilroy. Serving the region since 1863, Caltrain is the oldest continually operating rail system west of the Mississippi. Looking to the future, Caltrain is set to electrify the corridor by 2024, which will reduce diesel emissions and add more service to more stations while advancing the agency’s equity goals. 

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Media Contact: Dan Lieberman, 650.622.2492