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Caltrain awards $1.25bn of contracts for ambitious modernization program.

Posted by Luke Upton on Aug 16, 2016

A diesel Caltrain locomotive which currently operates on the San Francisco to Santa Clara rail route. (Photo courtesy of Balfour Beatty)With the region it serves undergoing unprecedented regional growth, Californian commuter rail line Caltrain has announced contracts for two major investments to modernize its network. With six consecutive years of record-setting ridership and a near doubling of ridership since 2010, Caltrain has become a preferred commuter option between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. As a result, peak hour service is well over 100 percent capacity with ridership on some trains exceeding 125 percent of available seats. The response? $1.25 billion in contracts to electrify the 82 km rail corridor between San Francisco and San Jose and for a fleet of double-deck electric multiple-units.

“The award of these contracts marks an important milestone in Caltrain’s 150 year history,” said Jim Hartnett, Caltrain’s Executive Director.  “The Caltrain Modernization Program is the most transformative project this corridor has ever undertaken.  It offers  unique economic, environmental and mobility benefits to the region and it is a key link in a High-Speed Rail network that will transform the way we think about transportation in California.”

The contract for design and construction of the Caltrain ( @Caltrain ) corridor’s electrification infrastructure was awarded to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc. The contract for the manufacture of high-performance electric trains was awarded to Stadler US, Inc.

Within the two aspects of the modernization program, Balfour Beatty ( @balfourbeatty ), the international infrastructure group, has been awarded a $697 million contract to undertake electrification of the 82 km  Caltrain rail corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, laying the foundations for the future operation of high speed trains . This is the largest contract secured by Balfour Beatty in the US.

The electrification of the line will bring cleaner, high performance electric vehicles to Caltrain’s fleet allowing for a more frequent service.  Reliability and capacity of the rail service, which operates through 17 US cities across San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, will also be enhanced.

Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty Group Chief Executive, said:  “Our extensive experience in managing complex rail projects leaves us well qualified to deliver this significant scheme.  Caltrain builds on the back of the recent successful delivery of our part in the multi-billion dollar Eagle P3 Commuter Rail network in Denver, Colorado.We are pleased our unique capability has been recognised with this award which contributes to our strategy to increase our design-build rail market share across the US.”

The second part of the modernization program, is with Swiss-based Stadler Rail, for whom it is also the largest ever US contract. They will supply 16 six-car EMUs under its $551m contract, and there is an option for a further 96 cars worth $385m. The trains, part of its KISS family of double-deck trainsets would be used in nine different countries. The 157·1 m long units will have a maximum speed of 177 km/h, and can be extended to seven or eight cars if required. The first EMU is scheduled to be handed over for testing in August 2019 and enter service in 2020.

Stadler owner and CEO Peter Spuhler said the KISS ‘is a high-tech product, perfectly suited for Silicon Valley’. Stadler said the replacement of the ‘heavy steel construction diesel fleet’ currently used on the route with ‘state-of-the-art lightweight aluminium EMUs’ offering ‘high performance and passenger capacity’ would significantly reduce greenhouse gas and noise emissions. The EMUs would meet FRA Alternative Compliance requirements for operating in mixed traffic, with a high level of passive safety.

“This long-held vision for the corridor is finally moving forward and it can’t happen soon enough,” said Caltrain Board Chair Perry Woodward. “With these investments, Caltrain will be able to provide faster, more frequent service to the communities, businesses and commuters that depend on the system everyday.”


Digital Guide: Urban Rail and Metro - solutions for a changing industry. If you enjoyed learning more about the state of rail in the US then join us for SmartTransit USA 2016 where you can learn about all the latest projects, investments and challenges of keeping rail at the heart of smart cities. Or download our free digital guide, Urban Rail and Metro: Solutions for a Changing Industry to find out more. 


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Topics: Rolling Stock, projects

Luke Upton

Written by Luke Upton

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