USA, San Francisco to San Jose Rail Corridor Electrification Approved

USA, San Francisco to San Jose Rail Corridor Electrification Approved :Electrification of the 52 mile (83 km) Caltrain corridor between San Francisco and San Jose to the south, including the purchase of Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trainsets necessary to operate the new service, was approved on 16 August 2016.

The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) Detailed Project Award Summary states that the objective is to increase ridership and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through more frequent service and faster trips. Passengers will experience more frequent and faster journeys; overall capacity on the congested corridor will increase to carry more riders during peak travel periods.

The investment will help introduce High Speed Rail (HSR) services in the corridor in “blended system” service by 2025, according to the California High Speed Rail Authority (CAHSR)’s 2016 Business Plan. The idea is that the northern and southern segments of the HSR system will “blend” with regional and local operations.

The currently used diesel fueled trains will be replaced with zero emission electric services that can operate at speeds up to 110 mph (180 kph): this will not only significantly reduce GHG emissions but will also reduce the negative environmental impact of engine noise.
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Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Balfour Beatty’s North American infrastructure division, announced being awarded the contract to design and build a 25kv AC overhead catenary system to serve as the power source for new high speed trains. It will construct two traction power substations, one switching substation and seven paralleling substations. Signal systems and earth existing facilities will also be replaced along line.

Balfour Beatty Group Chief Executive Leo Quinn stated: “Our extensive experience in managing complex rail projects leaves us well qualified to deliver this significant scheme.”

Stadler Rail will instead supply 16 aluminum, double-decker, EMU KISS family trainsets. The six-car trainsets can be extended to seven or eight cars if required.

Stadler CEO Peter Spuhler stated that the KISS is “a high-tech product, perfectly suited for Silicon Valley”.
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The EMUs will be fully compliant with the requirements of the Buy America Act, which requires 60% of the contract’s added value to be created in the USA.

It seems that Caltrain preferred a KISS (Komfortabler Innovativer Spurtstarker S-Bahn-Zug, a German acronym for “Comfortable Innovative Speedy Suburban Train”) to a FLIRT (Flinker Leichter Innovativer Regional-Triebzug or “Fast Light Innovative Regional Train”).

The overall electrification project is due to start before the end of 2016, with completion planned in 2020.

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Writer: John Carlo Ottaviani

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