||This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2013)|
|Owner||Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board|
|Locale||San Francisco Peninsula
Santa Clara Valley
Counties: San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara
|Transit type||Commuter rail|
|Number of lines||1|
|Number of stations||32
(plus 6 planned/proposed, 3 closed)
|Daily ridership||47,060 weekdays
(February 2013 average)
|Headquarters||San Carlos, California|
TransitAmerica Services (2012–present)
|Host Railroads||JPBX (San Francisco–Tamien)
Union Pacific (Tamien–Gilroy)
|Number of vehicles||29 locomotives
118 passenger cars
|Train length||1 locomotive, 5 passenger cars|
|System length||77.4 mi (124.6 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
|Top speed||79 mph (127 km/h)|
Caltrain (reporting mark JPBX) is a California commuter rail line on the San Francisco Peninsula and in the Santa Clara Valley (Silicon Valley). The north end of the line is San Francisco, at 4th and King streets; its south end is Gilroy. Trains leave San Francisco and San Jose about hourly on weekdays, or more frequently during commute hours and for special events (such as sporting events). Service between San Jose and Gilroy is limited to three weekday commute-hour round trips. Weekday ridership in February 2013 averaged 47,060, up 11.1% from February 2012, with ridership at Baby Bullet stations making up 83.5% of total boardings.
Caltrain is governed by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB), which consists of agencies from the three Caltrain counties. Each member agency has three representatives on a nine member Board of Directors. The member agencies are the City and County of San Francisco, SamTrans and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
Caltrain has 29 regular stops, one football-only stop (Stanford Stadium), and two weekend-only stops (Broadway and Atherton). As of October 2012 Caltrain runs 92 weekday trains (22 Baby Bullet), 36 Saturday (4 Baby Bullet), and 32 Sunday (4 Baby Bullet).
Southern Pacific service
Southern Pacific double-tracked the line in 1904 and rerouted it via Bayshore. After 1945, ridership declined with the rise of automobile use; in 1977, SP petitioned the state Public Utilities Commission to discontinue the commuter operation due to the ongoing losses.
To preserve the commuter service, Caltrans in 1980 contracted SP and began to subsidize the operation. Caltrans purchased new locomotives and rolling stock, replacing SP equipment in 1985. Caltrans also upgraded stations, added shuttle buses to nearby employers, and dubbed the operation CalTrain.
Joint Powers Board
The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board was formed in 1987 to manage the line. Subsequently San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties commissioned Earth Metrics, Inc., to prepare an Environmental Impact Report on right-of-way acquisition and expansion of operations. With state and local funding, the PCJPB bought the railroad right of way between San Francisco and San Jose from SP in 1991. The following year, PCJPB took responsibility for CalTrain operations and selected Amtrak as the contract operator. PCJPB extended the CalTrain service from San Jose to Gilroy, connecting to VTA Light Rail at Tamien Station in San Jose.
In July 1995 CalTrain became accessible to passengers in wheelchairs. Five months later, CalTrain increased the bicycle limit to 24 per train, making the service attractive to commuters in bicycle-friendly cities such as San Francisco and Palo Alto.
In July 1997 the current logo was adopted, and the official name became Caltrain.
In 1998 the San Francisco Municipal Railway extended the N Judah Muni Metro line from Market Street to the San Francisco Caltrain Station at 4th and King streets, providing a direct Caltrain-Muni Metro connection for the first time. A year later, VTA extended its light rail service from north Santa Clara to the Mountain View Caltrain station.
In 2006, Caltrain announced that wireless internet access (using WiMAX) would be available on trains at no additional charge, by the end of 2007. Caltrain invested more than $1 million in researching and testing WiFi in 2006. The Caltrain Board of Directors voted at their August 30, 2007 meeting to keep the project from proceeding by rejecting both bids to provide the service, citing both bids not meeting the expectation of Caltrain. Caltrain still hopes to offer the service eventually as part of a more comprehensive communication package.
In 2008, Caltrain reached an all-time high of 98 trains each weekday.
Caltrain announced on August 19, 2011 a staff recommendation to sign a five-year, $62.5 million contract with Missouri based TransitAmerica Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Herzog Transit Systems, after taking proposals from three other firms, including Amtrak, which has provided operating employees since 1992. The new operating contract was approved by the full Joint Powers Board at its scheduled September 1 meeting. TransitAmerica Services will take over not only the conductor and engineer jobs on the trains, but also dispatching and maintenance of equipment, track, and right-of-way from Amtrak. The changeover was estimated to take about five months beginning in late 2011. On May 26, 2012 (during the Memorial Day weekend), TransitAmerica took over full operations.
Baby Bullet service
In June 2004, Caltrain finished its two-year CTX (Caltrain Express) project for a new express service called the Baby Bullet. The project entailed new bypass tracks in Brisbane and Sunnyvale as well as a new centralized traffic control system. The Baby Bullet trains reduced travel time by stopping at only four or five stations between San Francisco and San Jose Diridon Station; the express trains could overtake local trains at the two locations (near Bayshore and Lawrence stations) where bypass tracks were added. Travel time for about 46.75 miles between San Francisco and San Jose is 57 minutes (four stops), 59 minutes (five stops) or 61 minutes (six stops), compared to 1 hour 30 minutes for locals. The Baby Bullets have the same top speed of 79 mph (127 km/h) as other trains, but fewer stops save time. The CTX project included the purchase of new Bombardier BiLevel Coaches along with MPI MP36PH-3C locomotives. The Baby Bullets have proved popular, but they skip most stations so many riders have longer commutes on non-bullet trains, some of which wait for Baby Bullet trains to pass.
In May of 2005 Caltrain started a series of fare increases and schedule changes in response to a projected budget shortfall. The frequency of the popular Baby Bullet express trains was increased; two express trains were added in May and another ten were added in August. New Baby Bullet stops, Pattern B stops, were introduced. Another increase of US$0.25 in basic fare came in January 2006. Daily ridership increased from fewer than 27,000 to over 34,000.
On April 2, 2010, Caltrain announced the need to cut its services by around 50%, as it is required to cut $30 million from its $97 million budget because all three authorities that fund the line are facing financial problems themselves and $10 million a year in previous state funding has been cut. Revenues for both local and state agencies have been steadily declining, as well as ticket revenues at Caltrain itself, and have left all "beyond broke."
On January 1, 2011, Caltrain cut 4 midday trains but upgraded 4 weekend trains to Baby Bullet service as a pilot program. This reduced its schedule from 90 to 86 trains each weekday. At the same time, it raised fares $0.25 and continued to contemplate cutting weekday service to 48 trains during commute hours only. By April 2011, Caltrain's board had approved a budget with fare increases to take effect on July 1, 2011, and no service cuts. The budget gap would be closed with another $0.25 fare increase, a $1 parking fee increase to $4, and additional money from other transit agencies and the MTC.
Downtown San Francisco extension
A 1.3 mi (2.1 km) tunnel has been proposed to extend Caltrain from its north end in San Francisco at 4th and King to a rebuilt Transbay Terminal, closer to the job center of San Francisco and BART, Muni, Transbay AC Transit buses, and long-distance buses. As of 2012 only the structural "train box" below the Transbay Terminal has been funded and is being built. In April 2012 the Metropolitan Transportation Commission decided to make the remainder of the $2.5 billion extension its top priority for federal funding. The extension would also serve the California High-Speed Rail system.
Caltrain has been chosen to provide commuter rail service on a to-be-rebuilt Dumbarton rail corridor across the San Francisco Bay between the Peninsula and Alameda County in the East Bay. This project would add four stations to the Caltrain system: Union City, Fremont-Centerville, Newark, and Menlo Park/East Palo Alto. The two obsolete swing bridges along the corridor would be replaced. Dumbarton Rail was scheduled to start construction in 2009 after a 30-month environmental review and begin service in 2012. SamTrans, one of Caltrain's member agencies, already owns the right-of-way for the Dumbarton Rail Bridge. The bridge has not been used since 1982, when it was still owned by SP, and about 33% of the bridge collapsed due to an arson fire in 1998. However, the project's estimated cost doubled between 2004 and 2006, to US$ 600M, and is financially problematic. In January 2009, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission instead applied the funds to the BART Warm Springs Extension project in Fremont, delaying the Dumbarton rail project for a decade.
South of Gilroy extension
Caltrain was the first service provider approached by the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) to extend service south of Gilroy into Monterey County. The proposed extension would stop at Pajaro (serving Watsonville in adjacent Santa Cruz County) and Castroville before terminating at Salinas. This project depends on state and federal funding availability and a possible local sales tax measure. This project is managed by TAMC, who has released the Final Environment Impact Report (EIR) for this project in 2006. This would complement another plan to re-establish rail service last provided by Southern Pacific Railroad's Del Monte Express which operated between Monterey and San Francisco.
As TAMC would have to secure 100% of the operational funding expense incurred by Caltrain for this extension, it is now being discussed to partner with the Caltrans Division of Rail to instead extend Capitol Corridor service south from San Jose to Salinas.
The proposed Caltrain electrification project would convert the Caltrain mainline between San Francisco and Tamien from the current diesel-electric locomotive power source to a fully electric rolling stock. Electrification would improve service times via faster acceleration, allow better scheduling, and reduce pollution and noise. Electrification also allows future expansion to downtown San Francisco.
Although the project has an estimated cost of $600–865 million, some of these costs can be offset by savings of $1–2 million a year in fuel and other costs; the amount saved depends on the price of diesel oil.[dead link] Electrified vehicles require less maintenance, but electrification will increase required track maintenance by about the same dollar amount, at least initially. Caltrain planned to complete electrification by 2015 for the first phase and 2020 for the second phase. Currently, the plan is to electrify the system between San Francisco 4th and King Street Station and San Jose Tamien Station by 2019. At that point, Caltrain will use electric multiple units and increase service to six trains per hour in each direction.
The electrification project between San Francisco and Tamien is the first phase, the second phase being Tamien Station to Gilroy. Cost, excluding electric rolling stock, for the first phase is estimated at $471 million (2006 dollars). Caltrain plans to use lighter electric multiple units that do not comply with the US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) crash-worthiness standards, but instead comply with the International Union of Railways (UIC) standards, on the electrified lines. FRA granted Caltrain a waiver to operate these units, which were previously banned on mix-used lines with other FRA-compliant rolling stocks due to concerns over crash worthiness, after Caltrain submitted simulation data showing UIC-compliant rolling stocks performed no-worse or even better than FRA-compliant rolling stocks in crashes. Caltrain plans to retain the newer diesel-electric rolling stock for Dumbarton and south of Tamien service.
California High-Speed Rail
The length of the Caltrain line from Gilroy to San Francisco is part of the planned route of the California High-Speed Rail line. Trains will reach up to 125 mph between San Jose and San Francisco. The construction of the system will eliminate all grade crossings on the peninsula and in Silicon Valley. The Gilroy-Tamien portion is now freight-owned track (owned by Union Pacific), so FRA would require dedicated tracks next to the present track.
Right of way
The Caltrain right of way between San Francisco and Tamien stations are owned and maintained by its operating agency, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB). PCJPB purchased the right of way from Southern Pacific (SP) in 1991, while SP maintained rights to inter-city passenger and freight trains. In exchange SP granted PCJPB rights to operate up to 6 trains per day between Tamien and Gilroy stations, later increased to 10 trains per day on a deal with SP's successor Union Pacific (UP) in 2005.
The system has 32 stations, 29 served daily and two weekend-only. San Francisco 4th and King Street is the northern terminus of the system, while Gilroy is the southern terminus. Atherton and Broadway are served only on weekends, and Stanford is served only on Stanford University's football game days. College Park is served only on weekdays during Bellarmine College Preparatory's school commute time. Tamien is served by train on weekdays and by shuttle bus on weekends. The five southernmost stations—Capitol, Blossom Hill, Morgan Hill, San Martin, and Gilroy—are served only on weekdays during commute time. Twelve stations are served by the express train service known as Baby Bullet, inaugurated in 2004. Seven stations (Millbrae, Burlingame, San Carlos, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and San Jose Diridon) are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Maintenance and operations facility
The Centralized Equipment Maintenance and Operations Facility is a new train maintenance yard and facility north of San Jose Diridon station in San Jose. The US$140 million maintenance station began construction in 2004 and opened on September 29, 2007. It consolidates much of Caltrain's maintenance and operations into one location.
Ticketing and ridership
|Caltrain Average Weekday Ridership by year
Survey done every February.
Fares for Caltrain service are based on the number of zones traveled (see above). Caltrain uses a proof-of-payment system: before boarding, each rider buys a ticket from a ticket vending machine that may or may not be checked during the trip. One-way tickets expire four hours after purchase, but round-trip tickets ("day passes") are good for unlimited rides within their zone limit until the last train of the day. Discounted 8-ride tickets and monthly passes are available through the clipper card system. Seniors, children, and the disabled ride for roughly half price (varies depending on the ticket). One-way TVM fares are (as of July 1, 2012):
- Within one zone: $3
- Within two zones: $5
- Within three zones: $7
- Within four zones: $9
- Within five zones: $11
- Within six zones: $13
Day-Pass is double the one-way, while clipper card users have a $0.25 discount on the one way TVM fares.
Zone ticketing requires little infrastructure at the stations but can be expensive for passengers making a short trip that crosses a zone boundary (each zone is 13 miles long). Travel from Sunnyvale to Lawrence (2.0 miles / 3.2 km) costs $4.75, the same as San Francisco to Redwood City (25.3 miles / 40.8 km).
In August 2009 Caltrain became the fifth public transit agency in the San Francisco Bay Area to implement Translink (now known as the Clipper card), the smart fare card that allows usually seamless transfers between participating agencies. Single rides, 8-ride tickets, and monthly passes are all available using Clipper, and conductors carry Clipper card readers while checking tickets. On February 1, 2011, paper 8-ride tickets will be replaced entirely by the Clipper card. Starting with the March monthly pass, monthly passes became available only on the Clipper card.
Cost and budget
The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board purchased the right of way between San Francisco and San Jose for $212 million from Southern Pacific in 1991. The total operating budget for fiscal year 2011 was $95,628,000. The fare revenue was $49,026,000, making the farebox recovery ratio 51.3%. This rose to over 58% in fiscal year 2012 and 62.3% in 2013.
|Builder||Model||Locomotive Numbers||Years of Service||Notes||Image|
|EMD||F40PH-2||902, 903, 907, 910, 914||1985–present||Overhauled by Alstom in 1999; HEP generators retained original gear drive from main engine.|
|EMD||F40PH-2CAT||900, 901, 904–906, 908, 909, 911–913, 915–919||1985–present||Originally F40PH-2s; overhauled by Alstom in 1999 and HEP generators were converted to separate Caterpillar 6-cylinder engines. Units 918 and 919 entered service in 1987.|
|MPI||F40PH-2C||920–922||1998–present||Cummins-powered HEP generators. No. 920 is the Operation Lifesaver unit.|
|MPI||MP36PH-3C||923–928||2003–present||Primarily used for "Baby Bullet" service.|
|EMD||GP9||500, 501||2000–2013||Work train/yard switcher service. Sold to Motive Power Resources late 2012, left Caltrain on March 8, 2013.|
|EMD||MP15DC||503, 504||2003–present||Work train/yard switcher service.|
Caltrain also leased a number of Amtrak F40PH's in 1998 and 1999 while Caltrain's F40PH-2's were being overhauled.
There are 93 bi-level gallery-type cars built by Nippon Sharyo in Caltrain's fleet, of which 66 are coaches and 27 are bike-accessible cab cars. Caltrans purchased the first 63 gallery cars in 1985 when it began subsidizing the commuter rail service. The other 30 were purchased by Caltrain in 2000, and the older cars were rebuilt by Nippon Sharyo around the same time. Each gallery car has one set of exit doors on each side of the car.
Caltrain purchased 17 Bombardier BiLevel Coaches in 2002, of which 10 are coaches, 5 are cab-bike cars, and 2 are cab-wheelchair cars. Some of the Bombardier BiLevel Coaches were bought from the Sounder Commuter Rail. Caltrain purchased additional eight cars in 2008 to meet short-term passenger growth and to increase spare ratio. These Bombardier cars are mostly used on Baby Bullet express trains, but they can be spotted on limited-stop and local trains. The Bombardier cars are never mixed with the Nippon-Sharyo cars.
Caltrain formerly used remanufactured Budd Rail Diesel Car ("Boise Budd") single-level cars it bought from Virginia Railway Express as Special-Event trains. These were sold after becoming obsolete. They are now in service on the Grand Canyon Railway.
Inter-City, Regional and Commuter rail
Caltrain has direct connections to three regional rail services; Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) (with service to San Francisco, SFO, Oakland, Fremont, Richmond, Dublin, Concord, and Pittsburg) at the Millbrae Intermodal Station, Amtrak's Capitol Corridor and Coast Starlight trains, as well as Altamont Commuter Express at San Jose's Diridon Station and the Santa Clara station.
The future BART-to-San Jose extension would also introduce connecting BART service at Diridon station and Santa Clara station.
Caltrain is served by a number of local bus/rail systems. These system include the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). (Additionally, Golden Gate Transit of Marin and Sonoma Counties is within 20 minutes' walking distance, or a short Muni ride via the N or T lines, from Caltrain's northern terminus.)
In August 2005, as part of its Vasona light rail project, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority established its third transfer point with Caltrain at San Jose's central train station Diridon. In addition to many bus connections, VTA light rail service has two other Caltrain transfer points at San Jose's Tamien and at Mountain View. (Also, the Cottle light rail stop in southern San Jose is a mile from Caltrain's Blossom Hill station.)
The San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) has two light rail connections, the N Judah and T Third Street lines, at separate stops near the San Francisco 4th and King station. Muni intended to establish another light rail connection to the Bayshore station at Visitacion Valley in southern San Francisco for the T Third line, but this has been delayed indefinitely due to cost and design issues. The T Third opened on 2007-04-18 without the connection.
Caltrain used to have a connection to San Francisco International Airport via a free shuttle bus at the Millbrae station that met arriving trains. With BART's extension to SFO, Caltrain discontinued the shuttle bus. Now in order to take Caltrain to SFO, riders must take a $4, 12-minute, un-timed connection with BART beginning at Millbrae Intermodal Station; currently, riders must also change BART trains at San Bruno during weekdays before 7 pm, as BART has eliminated direct service from Milbrae to SFO during those times; direct BART service between Millbrae and SFO still exists on nights and weekends.
Regional express bus
Caltrain is also served by AC Transit from Hayward at the Hillsdale station (Line M) and at Palo Alto station (Line U). This is in addition to the Dumbarton Express from Union City/Fremont at Palo Alto. Furthermore Amtrak's Highway 17 Express bus from Santa Cruz and Monterey-Salinas Transit from Monterey at San Jose, as well as San Benito County Express from Hollister at Gilroy.
Caltrain sponsors many shuttle routes serving local employers on the Peninsula and in Silicon Valley. Shuttle connections via the Marguerite are available to Stanford University at the Palo Alto and California Avenue stations and San José State University at the San Jose Station.
Caltrain was one of the first commuter rail services to add bicycle capacity to its trains. On the older Nippon Sharyo gallery fleet, every cab car can carry 40 bicycles, but most cab cars on the newer Bombardier fleet carry 24 bicycles. As of 2011 every train has two bicycle cars, so capacity is 48 or 80 bicycles. Folding bicycles are not restricted and can be carried on any car when folded.
All bicycle rack-equipped cars have a yellow bike decal outside. Cyclists are required to tie their bicycle to the rack with the bungee cord provided. Each rack can accommodate four bicycles. Because the bikes are stacked together against the racks, most riders place a destination tag on their bicycles to optimize placement and minimize shuffling.
The variation on bicycle capacity between trainsets has generated criticisms from the bicycling community, as cyclists are denied boarding when a train reaches its bicycle capacity. The Baby Bullets, favored by many cyclists, often have lower bike-capacity Bombardier cars and cyclists may have to wait for slower trains with higher-capacity gallery cars, or seek alternate transportation.
Due to equipment rotation and maintenance concerns, Caltrain says it cannot dedicate cars with higher bike capacity on trains with high bike demand.
To provide an alternative to bringing bicycles on board the trains, Caltrain has installed bicycle lockers at most stations, and constructed a new bicycle station at the San Francisco station. A bicycle station was open at the Palo Alto station from April 1999 to October 2004, and reopened in February 2007. In early 2008, the Caltrain sponsored Warm Planet bicycle station opened at the 4th and Townsend terminus.
It has been suggested that Caltrain could increase its bicycle capacity by removing some seats from bicycle cars. Initially Caltrain rejected this idea because some trains are operated at seated capacity and the seat removal would take space from other passengers. But in early 2009 Caltrain announced that it would be expanding bicycle capacity by 8 spots by removing some seats in the bike cars, bringing bike capacity to 40 bikes on gallery cars and 24 bikes on Bombardier cars. The expansion started several months later and has been mostly completed.
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- Caltrain Bike
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Caltrain|
- Caltrain Official Site
- Caltrain Schedule (official)
- Caltrain Schedule (alternative)
- San Mateo County Transportation Authority – Contains Information on Dumbarton Rail Extension
- BayRail Alliance (Caltrain advocacy group)
- Caltrain 2005 (Video Documentary about Caltrain)
- Articles on the history of the San Francisco Peninsula Commuter Service
- TimeTable Mobile Open-source train schedule/timetable for PDA and cellphones