Caltrain

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Not to be confused with Caltrans.
For the short-lived service in Los Angeles, see CalTrain.
Caltrain
Caltrain logo.svg
Overview
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
Daily ridership 58,245 weekdays
17,392 Saturdays
8,849 Sundays
(February 2015 average)[1]
Headquarters San Carlos, California
Website http://www.caltrain.com
Operation
Began operation 1987
Operator(s) Amtrak (1992–2012)
TransitAmerica Services (2012–present)
Reporting marks JPBX
Host railroads JPBX (San Francisco–Tamien)
Union Pacific (Tamien–Gilroy)
Number of vehicles 29 locomotives
118 passenger cars[2]
Train length 1 locomotive, 5 or 6 passenger cars
Technical
System length 77.4 mi (124.6 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
(standard gauge)
Top speed 79 mph (127 km/h)
System map
Embarcadero Station
via pedestiran tunnel
planned
Transbay Transit Center planned
San FranciscoBSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg
22nd Street
Oakdale proposed
Paul Avenue closed
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg
Bayshore
San Francisco
San Mateo County
Butler Road closed
South San Francisco
San Bruno
Fare zone 1
Fare zone 2
MillbraeBay Area Rapid Transit San Francisco International Airport
Broadway
weekends
only
Burlingame
San Mateo
Hayward Park
Bay Meadows closed
Hillsdale
Belmont
San Carlos
Redwood City
timed
transfer
Fare zone 2
Fare zone 3
Dumbarton extension
Second Ave. proposed
Atherton
weekends
only
Menlo Park
Willow Road proposed
San Mateo County
Alameda County
Newark proposed
Fremont-Centerville proposed
Union City proposed
San Mateo County
Santa Clara County
Palo Alto
Stanford
game days
only
California Avenue
San Antonio
Castro closed
Mountain ViewSanta Clara VTA
Sunnyvale
Fare zone 3
Fare zone 4
Lawrence
Santa ClaraAmtrak Altamont Corridor Express San Jose International Airport
College Park
Bellarmine
commutes
CEMOF
Mountain View–Winchester (VTA)
San Jose DiridonSanta Clara VTA Amtrak Altamont Corridor Express
Alum Rock–Santa Teresa (VTA)
TamienSanta Clara VTA
Fare zone 4
Fare zone 5
Capitol
weekday
commutes
Blossom Hill
weekday
commutes
Fare zone 5
Fare zone 6
Morgan Hill
weekday
commutes
San Martin
weekday
commutes
Gilroy
weekday
commutes
Salinas proposed

Caltrain 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 2015 averaged 58,245, up 10.7% from February 2014 and 71% since 2010.[1]

Caltrain is governed by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB), which consists of agencies from the three Caltrain counties—San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. 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).[3]

History[edit]

Southern Pacific service[edit]

An SP locomotive pulls a Peninsula Commute train past Bayshore in April 1985
Main article: Peninsula Commute

The original railroad built in 1863 was the San Francisco and San Jose Rail Road, purchased by Southern Pacific in 1870.

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 because of 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. Caltrain also upgraded stations, added shuttle buses to nearby employers, and dubbed the operation CalTrain.

Joint Powers Board[edit]

A Caltrain car manufactured by Nippon Sharyo.

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 June 2003, a passenger connection for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Caltrain systems opened at Millbrae station just south of the San Francisco International Airport.[4]

In 2006, Caltrain announced that wireless internet access (using WiMAX) would be available on trains at no additional charge, by the end of 2007.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

Baby Bullet service[edit]

Baby Bullet service is provided by MPI MP36PH-3C locomotives.

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.[9] 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.[10]

In May 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.

Currently, each train is assigned a three-digit number indicating direction, sequence and stop pattern. This number is not to be confused with the locomotive number, which is the 9xx number physically stenciled on each engine. Only the MPI locomotives display all three digits; all others (EMD locomotives and control cars) display the last two digits only.

Train number locations on locomotives (top row) and control cars (bottom row)
  • The first digit for weekday trains is always 1, 2 or 3, indicating stopping pattern. 1xx trains are local trains making all regular stops. 2xx trains are limited-service trains, skipping some stations. 3xx trains are Baby Bullet trains, and make the fewest stops.[11]
  • The first digit for weekend trains is always 4 or 8, also indicating stopping pattern. 4xx trains are local trains making all stops. 8xx trains are Weekend Baby Bullet trains, making fewer stops.[12]
  • The second and third digits indicate the sequence number of the train. For instance, x01 is the first train of the day. These digits also indicate the direction of the train; odd-numbered trains run northbound, and even-numbered trains run southbound. Thus x02 is the first southbound train of the day, x03 is the second northbound train of the day, etc. These numbers are placarded on the leading element of the train (either the control car, for northbound trains, or the locomotive, for southbound trains); the MP36-3C locomotives have LCD displays showing the train number (when travelling northbound, the locomotive number is displayed instead). The practice of placarding train numbers dates back to the Southern Pacific days.

Budget crisis[edit]

On April 2, 2010, Caltrain announced the need to cut its services by around 50%, as it was required to cut $30 million from its $97 million budget because all three authorities that fund the line were facing financial problems themselves and $10 million a year in previous state funding had been cut. Revenues for both local and state agencies had been steadily declining, as well as ticket revenues at Caltrain itself, and had left all "beyond broke."[13]

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.[14] 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.[15][16]

Modernization and Electrification[edit]

Caltrain awarded the electrification and EMU contracts in the July 7, 2016 PCJPB Board meeting,[17] signaling the start of modernization effort that would make Caltrain more akin to rapid-transit services such as Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) than traditional commuter services, and allowed the future California High Speed Rail trains to reach San Francisco utilizing Caltrain tracks.

Future plans[edit]

Downtown San Francisco extension[edit]

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 the newly built Transbay Transit Center,[18] 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.[19] In April 2012 the Metropolitan Transportation Commission decided to make the remainder of the $2.5 billion extension its top priority for federal funding.[20] The extension would also serve the California High-Speed Rail system.

An alternate proposal, put forth by Mayor Ed Lee, would see the existing terminal and trains yards demolished along with Interstate 280 in Mission Bay, then replaced with infill housing. Caltrain and high-speed rail would instead be extended to the Transbay Terminal in a new tunnel under Third Street.[21]

Dumbarton extension[edit]

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.[22] Dumbarton Rail was scheduled to start construction in 2009 after a 30-month environmental review and begin service in 2012.[23] 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,[24] and is financially problematic.[25] 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 at least a decade.[26]

South of Gilroy extension[edit]

Caltrain was approached by the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) to extend service south of Gilroy into Monterey County. A draft environmental impact report stated the lack of public transportation between Monterey County and the Bay Area has resulted in increased private commuter vehicle traffic.[27] Traffic on US Highway 101 was projected to rise by up to 56% in 2020 compared to 1998 levels, resulting in unstable traffic flow from the Salinas city limits to the Santa Clara County line as a result.[27]

The concept of a Caltrain extension to Monterey County has been considered since at least 1996, with the cities of Salinas and Watsonville considering rail station improvements and construction between 1996 and 1998, culminating in a TAMC-sponsored Extension of Caltrain Commuter Service to Monterey County Business Plan in 2000. The proposed extension would create new stations and stops in Pajaro (serving Watsonville in adjacent Santa Cruz County at an estaimted cost of US$6,585,000 (equivalent to $7,730,000 in 2015))[27] and Castroville (at an estimated cost of US$11,150,000 (equivalent to $13,088,000 in 2015))[27] before terminating at the existing Salinas, Amtrak station with Coast Starlight service. The Salinas station would be rebuilt as an intermodal station to connect commuter rail with Monterey-Salinas Transit buses. A layover yard would be added to accommodate Caltrain crews and maintenance, and the total cost of the Salinas improvements was estimated at US$39,705,000 (equivalent to $46,607,000 in 2015).[27] The cost of operating commuter rail was estimated at US$64,900,000 (equivalent to $76,181,000 in 2015) for two daily roundtrips.[27]

This project depends on state and federal funding availability, a possible local sales tax measure, and an agreement with Union Pacific, the owner of the Salinas-to-Gilroy tracks and right-of-way. This project is managed by TAMC, who released the Final Environment Impact Report (EIR) for this project in 2006.[28] 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.

In 2009, Caltrain requested that TAMC approach other train operators. TAMC subsequently opened discussions with the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority and the Caltrans Division of Rail to extend Capitol Corridor service south from San Jose to Salinas using the same routing and stations.[29] The switch to Capitol Corridor was cited as an advantage, since CCJPA had experience with commuter trains sharing service on Union Pacific-owned freight right-of-way. Two Capitol Corridor trains would originate from Salinas in the mornings and run through to San Jose and on to Sacramento, with two evening trains making the return trip south to Salinas.[29]

Modernization and electrification[edit]

The Caltrain Modernization Program will electrify the main line between San Francisco and the San Jose Tamien Station, allowing transition from diesel-electric locomotive power to fully electric rolling stock.[30] Proponents say electrification would improve service times via faster acceleration, allow better scheduling and reduce air pollution and noise. Electrification would also allow future expansion to downtown San Francisco.[31] Electrified vehicles require less maintenance, but electrification will increase required track maintenance by about the same dollar amount, at least initially. The plan calls to electrify the system between San Francisco 4th and King Street Station and San Jose Tamien Station by 2020.[30][32] At that point, Caltrain plans to use electric multiple units and increase service to six trains per hour in each direction.[31][33]

The electrification project between San Francisco and Tamien is the first phase, the second phase being from Tamien Station to Gilroy.[34] Cost, excluding electric rolling stock, for the first phase was estimated at $471 million (2006 dollars). By 2016, costs had increased to $1.7 billion.[35] As part of the Caltrain Modernization Program and mandated by the federal government, positive train control was installed along the route between San Francisco and San Jose by late 2015.[36]

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.[37][38] Caltrain plans to retain their newer diesel-electric rolling stock for use on the Dumbarton Extension and service south of Tamien.

California High-Speed Rail[edit]

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 are predicted to travel at speeds up to 125 mph between San Jose and San Francisco. 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[edit]

Plaque on the San Francisco 4th and King Street Station commemorating 150 years of passenger service along the San Francisco & San Jose Railroad / Southern Pacific Peninsula Corridor 1864–2014

The Caltrain right of way between San Francisco and Tamien stations is 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.

Stations[edit]

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.[39] 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.[40] Two stations, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, are not long enough to accommodate six-car trains without minor service impacts.[41] 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.[42]

Maintenance and operations facility[edit]

The Centralized Equipment Maintenance and Operations Facility is a new train maintenance yard and facility north of San Jose Diridon station in San Jose.[43] The US$140 million maintenance station began construction in 2004 and opened on September 29, 2007.[44][45] It consolidates much of Caltrain's maintenance and operations into one location.[46]

Ticketing and ridership[edit]

Caltrain Average Weekday Ridership by year
Survey done every February.[1][47][48]
1997 26,043
1998 27,967
1999 27,591
2000 31,291
2001 35,609
2002 30,961
2003 27,191
2004 25,550
2005 28,393
2006 32,031
2007 33,841
2008 36,993
2009 39,122
2010 36,778
2011 37,779
2012 42,354
2013 47,060
2014 52,611
2015 58,245

Caltrain ridership more than doubled between 2005 and 2015.[49] Ridership growth has been linked to the expansion of businesses near Caltrain stations, a shift in attitudes against the use of cars for commuting, and the expansion Caltrain service which has included extra trains and the introduction of fast express services (Baby Bullet service).[50][51]

Caltrain uses a proof-of-payment system: each rider must buy a ticket prior to boarding the train that may or may not be checked during the trip.[52][53] Passengers who board the train without a viable ticket are subject to fines of up to $250 plus court fees.[52][53]

Passengers who use the electronic Clipper card to ride must remember to "tag on" with their card prior to boarding and "tag off" with their card after exiting the train.[54] If they board the train without tagging on, they will be subject to the same fines.[53][54] In addition, Caltrain passengers are charged the maximum one way fare when they tag on prior to boarding the train and the difference is reimbursed when they tag off after leaving the train. If passengers who use the Clipper card fail to tag off when they exit the train, they will be charged "the highest cash fare from [their] point of origin."[55]

Fares for Caltrain service are based on the number of zones traveled (see above). 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 only with a Clipper card. Seniors, children, and the disabled ride for roughly half price (varies depending on the ticket). One-way full fares are (as of March 1, 2016):[56]

  • Within one zone: $3.75
  • Within two zones: $5.75
  • Within three zones: $7.75
  • Within four zones: $9.75
  • Within five zones: $11.75
  • Within six zones: $13.75

Day-Pass is double the one-way, while Clipper card users have a $0.50 discount on the one way full 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 $5.75, 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 the Clipper card.[57]

Cost and budget[edit]

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 operating expenses for fiscal year 2011 were $95,628,000. The fare revenue was $49,026,000, making the farebox recovery ratio 51.3%.[65] This rose to 59% in fiscal year 2012[66] and 64% in 2013.[67][70]

Rolling stock[edit]

Locomotives[edit]

Prior to 1985, Caltrain used equipment leased from Southern Pacific, including SP/CDTX 3187, an EMD GP9 repainted in prototype Caltrain livery[71] and other locomotives that had been used for the Peninsula Commute service. Since 1985, Caltrain has used the following locomotives, which are powered by diesel engines:[2]

Builder Model Locomotive Numbers Years of Service Notes Image
EMD F40PH-2 902, 903, 907, 910, 914 1985–present Ordered new by Caltrans; Overhauled by Alstom in 1999; HEP generators retained original gear drive from main engine. Caltrain JPBX 910 at Millbrae Station.JPG
EMD F40PH-2CAT 900, 901, 904–906, 908, 909, 911–913, 915–919 1985–present Originally F40PH-2s; ordered new by Caltrans; overhauled by Alstom in 1999 and HEP generators were converted to separate Caterpillar 6-cylinder engines. Units 918 and 919 entered service in 1987. Three EMD F40PH-2CATs at San Francisco.
MPI F40PH-2C 920–922 1998–present Cummins-powered HEP generators. No. 920 is the Operation Lifesaver unit. Caltrain JPBX 922 at Santa Clara Station.JPG
MPI MP36PH-3C 923–928 2003–present Primarily used for "Baby Bullet" service. Caltrain JPBX 927 at Palo Alto station.JPG
EMD GP9 500, 501
2000–2013 Work train/yard switcher service. 500 and 501 are ex-SP 3833 & SP 3842, respectively. Sold to Motive Power Resources late 2012, left Caltrain on March 8, 2013.
EMD MP15DC 503, 504 2003–present Work train/yard switcher service. EMD MP15DC #503.

Caltrain also leased a number of Amtrak F40PH's in 1998 and 1999 while Caltrain's F40PH-2's were being overhauled.[citation needed]

Passenger cars[edit]

Currently, Caltrain trains consist of one locomotive and a five- or six-car consist. Trains run in a puller configuration (led by the locomotive) towards San Jose and in a pusher configuration (led by the cab car) towards San Francisco, so the orientation of cars remains consistent. From north to south, Nippon Sharyo five-car gallery consists are arranged as:

Interior of a Nippon Sharyo bi-level passenger car.
  1. Cab/bike car
  2. Passenger trailer
  3. Passenger/luggage trailer
  4. Bike car
  5. Passenger trailer
  6. Locomotive

From north to south, Bombardier bi-level six-car consists are arranged as:[72]

  1. Cab/bike car
  2. Passenger trailer
  3. Passenger/luggage trailer
  4. Bike car
  5. Bike car (ex-Metrolink)
  6. Passenger trailer
  7. Locomotive

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.[2] Each gallery car has one set of exit doors on each side of the car.

Caltrain bought 14 remanufactured Budd Rail Diesel Car ("Boise Budd") single-level cars from Virginia Railway Express around 2000 for use on Special-Event trains.[73] These cars were sold in 2005 after Bombardier cars were delivered and are now in service on the Grand Canyon Railway.[74]

Caltrain purchased 17 Bombardier BiLevel Coaches in 2002, of which 10 are coaches, 5 are cab-bike cars, and 2 are cab-wheelchair cars.[2] 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 were initially used on Baby Bullet express trains, but they are now also used on limited-stop and local trains. Train consists use a single car manufacturer; the Bombardier cars are never mixed with the Nippon-Sharyo gallery cars.

Ex-Metrolink cars[edit]

Caltrain purchased 16 used Bombardier BiLevel Coaches from Metrolink in 2014 to cope with increasing ridership by lengthening Bombardier sets from five to six cars. Four of the cars were put into service in May 2015 while other cars await their refurbishments.[41]

Builder Model Type Numbers Quantity Year Note Image
Nippon Sharyo Gallery Trailer-Luggage 3800-3825 26 1985–present Gallery cars at Millbrae
Trailer-Bike 3826-3835 10
Trailer 3836-3851 16 1985/1986–present
3852-3865 14 2000–present With wheel chair space and bathroom
Cab-Bike 4000-4020 21 1985–present With bathroom
4021-4026 6 2000–present With wheel chair space and bathroom
Bombardier Bi-Level Trailer 220-227, 229-230 9 2002–present With ADA compliant bathroom Bombardier consist at San Mateo station.
231-236 6 2008–present
162-179 16 2015–present With ADA compliant bathroom
Purchased from Metrolink[75]
162 and 163 built in 1992, 164-179 built in 1997
Cab-Bike 112-118, 219 8 2002–present With ADA compliant bathroom
119-120 2 2008–present
Budd Rail Diesel Car Trailer (engine removed) 12 2000-2005 Built in 1952
Used for special event trains
Sold to Grand Canyon Railway
Cab-Control (engine removed) 2
SPV-2000 self-propelled 505 1 2007–present Track geometry inspection car
Ex-FRA (DOTX T-10)
Budd SPV-2000 at 4th and Townsend

Intermodal connections[edit]

Inter-City, Regional and Commuter rail[edit]

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.

Bus/Light rail[edit]

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 April 18, 2007 without the connection to Bayshore station.

Airport[edit]

Caltrain passengers may transfer to BART at the Millbrae Intermodal Station for travel to the San Francisco International Airport. Currently, Caltrain riders looking to transfer to the airport must also change BART trains at San Bruno station[76] 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. Prior to the opening of the airport extension in 2003 a free shuttle bus operated between Millbrae and the airport.[77]

There is a connection to San Jose International Airport via the free VTA shuttle bus No. 10 at the Santa Clara Station.[76]

Regional express bus[edit]

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.

Bus shuttle[edit]

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.

Bicycle access[edit]

Caltrain "Bike Car" sign posted by car door.

Caltrain was one of the first commuter rail services to add bicycle capacity to its trains, inaugurating bicycle service in 1992 by allowing four bikes on certain trains.[78]

Bicycle ridership and policies[edit]

Caltrain Average Weekday Bicycle Ridership by year
Survey done every February. Only includes bicycles physically brought onto the train, not those left at the station.[79]
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
1,614 1,860 2,271 2,334 2,382 2,890 2,659 3,664 4,243 4,910 5,874 6,207

Folding bicycles are not restricted and can be carried on any car when folded.

A bicycle rack aboard a Caltrain gallery car.

All bicycle rack-equipped cars have a yellow "Bike Car" sign posted by the door. 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, available from a conductor, on their bicycles to optimize placement and minimize shuffling.[80][81]

Bicyclists waiting to board Caltrain at the Palo Alto station.

The variation on bicycle capacity between trainsets has generated criticisms from the bicycling community, as cyclists may be denied boarding when a train reaches its bicycle capacity. The Baby Bullets, favored by many cyclists, often use lower bike-capacity Bombardier cars and cyclists may have to wait for slower trains with higher-capacity gallery cars, or seek alternate transportation.[82]

Due to equipment rotation and maintenance concerns, Caltrain said in 2009 that it could not dedicate cars with higher bike capacity on trains with high bike demand.[83] Eventually, two bike cars were added to every train consist by 2011,[84] and in 2016, a third bike car was added to Bombardier consists.[72]

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.[85] In early 2008, the Caltrain sponsored Warm Planet bicycle station opened at the 4th and Townsend terminus. A bicycle station was open at the Palo Alto station from April 1999 to October 2004, and reopened in February 2007.[86] Nearly all stations have racks and/or lockers available to park bicycles.[87]

Bicycle cars[edit]

The initial pilot program launched in 1992 allowed up to four bikes per train for off-peak service, with bicycles were carried in the cab car (northernmost car). Bicycle capacity was expanded to twelve bikes per train for all trains in 1995, followed by a doubling to 24 bikes per train for all trains in 1996.[88]

Starting in 2001, gallery cars were modified for bicycle service.[88] Gallery cars modified for bicycle service removed seats from the lower level in the north half of the car, resulting in space to carry 32 bicycles per car. By 2006, Bombardier cars were also modified for bicycle service by partially removed seats from the lower level of the car, resulting in space to carry 16 bicycles per car.[78]

It was suggested that Caltrain could increase bicycle capacity by removing some seats from bicycle cars. Initially Caltrain rejected this idea because some trains are operated at seated capacity[85] and the seat removal would take space from other passengers. However, 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.[78] The expansion started several months later.[89] After this, bike capacity on trains was expanded by increasing the number of bike cars in a consist, rather than further modifying cars.

Train consists[edit]

At first, only the cab/control car (the northernmost car) of each train consist was modified for bicycle service.[89] Prior to 2009, Bombardier consists could carry 16 bicycles, and gallery consists could carry 32 bicycles. With the removal of additional seats in 2009, capacity rose to 24 and 40 bicycles, respectively.[78]

In the fall of 2009, all Bombardier consists and some gallery consists substituted a second bike car for one of the passenger trailers. The remaining gallery consists continued with a single bike car,[83] resulting in a carrying capacity of 48 bicycles (on Bombardier consists) or 40–80 bicycles (on gallery consists with one or two bike cars).[89] Due to demand, in 2011, the remaining gallery sets modified a passenger trailer to take bicycles, giving two bike cars to all consists, increasing capacity on all gallery consists to 80 bicycles per train.[90] 10 gallery trailer cars, 3826-3835, had their lower-level seats removed in 2011.[2][84] Although the Baby Bullet runs initially used five-car Bombardier consists, many of the Baby Bullet runs returned to five-car gallery sets due to their superior bicycle capacity, since demand for bicycle car access was high.

Prior to 2016, both Bombardier and gallery trains used five-car consists. With the purchase of Bombardier cars from Metrolink, Caltrain announced in January 2015 that roughly half of the additional ex-Metrolink cars will be converted to bike cars with capacity for 24 bikes, so some trains running Bombardier cars will be six-car consists, of which three will be bike cars.[91]

Six-car Bombardier consists started running in May 2015, but the third car was not converted for bike service until March 2016. Five of the Bombardier cars were refurbished as bike cars and entered service in March 2016. All Bombardier consists are now six-car sets with three bike cars and three passenger cars. The third bike car is just south of the existing southern bike car. The third bike car is being placed next to the other bike car to help conductors to manage bike capacity.[92] Official bike capacity for six-car Bombardier consists is 72 (24 bikes × 3 cars), comparable to the 80-bike capacity of five-car gallery consists (40 bikes × 2 cars).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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    Many of you have written to ask a series of questions about this new effort: Why can’t we provide two bike cars on every train? Why can’t we provide two bike cars on my train? Why can’t we provide two bike cars on the most heavily used trains? Why is there only one bike car on trains that are supposed to have two bike cars?
    The simplest answer to most of these questions is that we don’t have enough bike cars to put two on every train, or even on every peak train, and, in doing all we can to expand service for our cycling customers, we have to be mindful of the impact of these changes on our entire system and all of our customers, particularly on on-time performance.
    All of our cars, not just our bike cars, serve our entire schedule throughout our entire day, which means they rotate through the schedule, and also must be rotated out of service for fueling, washing, maintenance and federally mandated safety and operational inspections.
    A train set that starts its day in San Jose may finish its day in Millbrae and be cycled to San Francisco for its daily maintenance and to begin the next day at the San Francisco station.
    Because of this rotation – because of the demands of our entire service schedule – we can’t guarantee that a specific stop on the schedule will have a specific train.
     
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External links[edit]