Caltrain celebrates completion of final foundation for electrification project

Caltrain is celebrating the completion of the final foundation for the new 25kV ac OCS that will support the deployment of electric trains.

Caltrain electrification


Caltrain has celebrated the successful completion of all 3,092 foundations for the new overhead catenary system (OCS) that will support electrified Caltrain services. 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.

“This marks a major achievement in the history of Caltrain,” Michelle Bouchard, Acting Executive Director of Caltrain, said. “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.”

The company began construction on the project in 2017, 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 Centre national test track in Pueblo, Colorado. While there is still difficult signal and system integration work ahead, the project is on track for a historic change and to be serving riders by 2024. 

“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,” Shamann Walton, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Caltrain Board Member, said. “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.”

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. 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.


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