Caltrain had to begin relocating older vehicles to ensure there was enough room for both the new electric equipment and standard operations.  -  Photo: Caltrain

Caltrain had to begin relocating older vehicles to ensure there was enough room for both the new electric equipment and standard operations.

Photo: Caltrain

San Carlos, California’s Caltrain shipped 32 of its nearly 40-year-old gallery cars to Sonoma as the agency makes room for its new electric fleet.

The cars will travel through Warm Springs, Jack London Square, and the Carquinez bridge before being stored in Petaluma with Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) until they will be put up for sale and a buyer is found.

Making Room for Electric

Caltrain currently has eight of the eventual 23 electric trainsets on its property. As additional electric trainsets make their way to Caltrain’s Central Equipment Maintenance and Operations Facility (CEMOF), Caltrain had to begin relocating older vehicles to ensure there was enough room for both the new equipment and standard operations. The gallery cars were not in service, and their retirement will not affect Caltrain service.

The passenger cars were built in San Francsico by Nippon Sharyo and first started rolling down the Caltrain corridor in 1985, when the agency was still operated by Caltrans. They have served millions of riders over their nearly 40 years of service and have supported the growth of Caltrain and the surrounding region over the years.

Caltrain hosted a small event for the public and rail fans at the Santa Clara Station Historic Rail Museum to send off the trains. The rest of the Nippon Sharyo passenger cars will be retired at the start of electrified service in fall 2024.

Caltrain’s Electrification Project

Caltrain’s historic Electrification Project is the first undertaking in North America in a generation in which diesel trains and their infrastructure components are transitioned to an electrified system. Electrification means faster and more frequent service, including doubling the frequency on weekends.

The passenger experience will also be greatly improved, with the new trains featuring Wi-Fi, power outlets at every seat, onboard displays with digital trip information, and increased storage capacities.  

Electrification will also help meet ambitious regional and state climate action goals by lowering greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and relieving traffic congestion.

Additionally, electrified service will advance equity along the corridor by reducing noise and air pollution while increasing access for priority equity communities. It will also set the framework for California’s future high-speed rail network that will run on the Caltrain corridor.

The proposed electrification service plan would see weekday peak hour trains go to 79 stations per hour, an increase from the current 66. Eleven stations would experience four train arrivals hourly per direction, a notable improvement from seven stations currently. Midday trains would cover 44 stations per hour, up from 34 today.

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