Small Bay Area Commuter Train Hopes To Revolutionize Passenger Rail

Caltrain, the nation's oldest commuter rail system west of the Mississippi, unveiled a plan to electrify the line that operates 96 daily trains from San Francisco to San Jose using technology that requires changes in federal and state regulations.

"If its efforts are successful, Caltrain will open the door for other agencies around the country to modernize their rail services with cheaper, more efficient rail vehicles like those used in Europe and other parts of the world."

"We are a third-world country when it comes to public transportation," said Arthur Lloyd, a member of the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, the tri-county agency that assumed ownership of the 142-year-old line from Caltrans, the state transportation agency, in 1992.

"This is the time and this is the place to change an industry," said Bob Doty, manager of rail operations for Caltrain. "Once we pass this opportunity up, we won't get it again."

"The vision was laid out in a Caltrain staff report, codenamed Project 2025, that was presented to the Caltrain joint powers board at its meeting Thursday, Jan. 4. Project 2025 calls for electrification using Electric Multiple Unit (or EMU) trains, so named because each car unit generates its own propulsion...But such trains have not been designated as "compliant" with federal regulations because of their lighter weight. The government requires that compliant locomotives like the ones currently used by Caltrain be encased in tons of steel so they will withstand the impact of a crash."

Full Story: Caltrain planning for rail revolution

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