Newsletter 4/12/24: Caltrain Completely Electrified, California HSR Trainsets and More

Caltrain Completes Electrification Between San Francisco and San Jose

Caltrain, with partners Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Balfour Beatty, has completed energization of the 51-mile corridor between San Francisco and San Jose. Caltrain can now begin testing electric trains at full speed along the corridor and prepare to launch revenue service in September 2024.

The Caltrain Electrification project included the construction of two main traction power substations in San Jose and South San Francisco, one switch station and seven parallel stations to distribute and regulate the electricity for the overhead catenary wire system. 

This project is transforming Caltrain from a good commuter service to a world class regional rail network, setting a standard for the rest of the country to follow. The improvements will allow for increased speeds, from 79 mph to 110 mph, and more frequent service with departures every 15 minutes throughout the day.  The electric trainsets will also feature better onboard amenities, including Wi-Fi, power outlets, onboard digital displays, and increased storage space.

The Caltrain improvements are directly tied to California’s high-speed rail project. The two services will share electrified tracks north of San Jose, and Caltrain is expected to see a major ridership boost from the high-speed line. In fact, high-speed rail drives investments in transit across the world, and in this case they have been planned together, share a funding stream and are inseparable projects. 

We are excited to see Caltrain approaching electrified revenue service, and it should reaffirm California’s commitment to completing their high-speed rail network. 

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Caltrain: Transforming Regional Rail 

Caltrain Partners Complete Successful Energization

Caltrain Fully Energizes Electrified Corridor

A new Caltrain EMu is parked at San Jose Ca station for public tours.
Rendering of a high-speed train from the California High-Speed Rail Auhtority.

California High-Speed Rail Authority Issues RFP for 220 mph Trains

The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s (CHSRA) board approved the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to manufacture their high-speed trainsets. Alstom and Siemens are the two manufacturers responding to the RFP, after they emerged from the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process. CHSRA officials say they hope to award a contract by the end of the year, and the trainsets must be ready for revenue service between 2030 and 2033. 

The contract includes a total of six trainsets capable of operating at 220 mph and testing up to 242 mph. Two of the six will be prototypes used for testing and trial runs, while the other four will be used for revenue service. 

The RFP was made possible in part due to a nearly $3.1 billion grant from the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program. This grant funding will also allow the Authority to fund design and construction of trainset facilities, the Fresno station, final design and right-of-way for the Merced and Bakersfield extensions, and continuing construction in the Central Valley. 

“Today’s board action continues our urgent march to put federal dollars to work, creating new industries and economic opportunity around high-speed rail. By the end of this year, we will know who will build California’s first high-speed trains, setting the course for better, more accessible rail travel in California.” – Tom Richards, Authority Board Chair

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Press Release: CHSRA Board Takes Next Step to Buy Nation’s First 220 mph Trainsets

California High Speed Rail Authority Board OKs RFP for New Trains

California: At the Forefront of High-Speed and Regional Rail

Japan and U.S. Signal Support for Texas High-Speed Rail Project

Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida met with President Biden at the White House this week. After the official visit, the White House released a fact sheet providing an overview of political understandings between the two countries. This included the following statement that shows a shared desire to advance high-speed rail in Texas. 

“Investing in U.S. Infrastructure: The U.S. Department of Transportation and Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism welcomed Amtrak’s leadership of the Texas Central High Speed Rail Project, utilizing Shinkansen technologies, which was recently selected for the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Corridor Identification and Development grant program. The successful completion of development efforts and other requirements would position the project for potential future funding and financing opportunities.” 

Japan was the first country with high-speed rail in 1964, and they have continuously invested in improving their rail network

Amtrak recently partnered with Texas Central to help advance the planning and analysis for a high-speed line between Dallas and Houston. They were awarded a $500,000 Corridor ID grant, which will allow them to create the scope, schedule, and cost estimate for preparing a Service Development Plan. You can read more about the Corridor ID process and how it helps guide projects through the design, planning and construction phases.

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U.S., Japan Signal Support for Texas High-Speed Rail Plan

‘We Believe in this’: Biden Admin Backs Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail

Dallas to Fort Worth High-Speed Rail Discussed In Dallas City Council

Alliance Presents at WisARP’s Spring Meeting

The Wisconsin Association of Railroad Passengers (WisARP) held its spring meeting on Saturday, April 6, in the Wisconsin Dells. Speakers from the Wisconsin DOT, the City of Madison, and the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition spoke about current efforts to expand passenger-train service in Wisconsin using the Corridor ID program.

Alliance deputy director Chris Ott also gave a presentation on a broader vision for the Midwest. Investment in the Chicago hub can support greater frequency and expanded service for the Midwest, and lay groundwork for high-speed travel. To learn more about the Alliance’s state and regional vision, go to HSRail.org/Wisconsin and HSRail.org/Chicago.

If you would like to book an Alliance speaker for a group that you participate in, please respond to this email.

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Level boarding on a Metra Electric platform

High Speed Rail Alliance 2024 Spring Luncheon

This year’s event will feature Jim Derwinski, the CEO/Executive Director of Chicago’s Metra rail system, as keynote speaker. Mr. Derwinski also serves as chairperson of the Illinois High-Speed Railway Commission.

Global Best Practices for Cutting the Cost of Building High-Speed Rail

When: 4/19 at 12pm Central Time

In this presentation, Paul Lewis with DB E.C.O. North America will discuss global best practices for changing the dynamic and enabling public agencies to build rail projects at a lower cost and on a fast timeline.

The platform at Seoul central station is busy with people getting off the train.

South Korean High-Speed Rail: Thoughts, Challenges and Successes

When: 5/3 at 12pm Central Time

Speaker: John Rinard, Transportation Program Director for AECOM’s U.S. Western region

John will share lessons learned from his time working on the Korean High-Speed Rail Construction Project, and insights from 40 years of delivering major rail projects on five continents, with a value in excess of $220 billion.

Drop Restrictive Rules and Let America Build Again

“A government willing to limit itself is often a good thing, but we’ve limited it so much that it takes an emergency to get anything built.”

Metra Notes Big Increase in Bicycle Ridership While Amtrak Shares Details on Union Station Concourse Overhaul

Metra has seen a 70% increase in bicyclist ridership since it started allowing bikes on all trains in February.

Update to Brightline West Field Investigation Work

Brightline West continues field investigation work along I-15 in advance of starting construction on the high-speed line between Las Vegas and Southern California. 

Stadler’s Hydrogen-Powered Train FLIRT H2 Achieves a New Guinness World Records Title

FLIRT H2 has been entered into the Guinness World Records database for the longest distance of 1,741.7 miles (2,803 kilometres) achieved by a pilot hydrogen fuel cell electric multiple unit passenger train without refuelling or recharging.

FRA Signs Washington Union Station Expansion Project FEIS/ROD/FS4(f)E (Railway Age)

The expansion project “will ensure the continued preservation of the historic station, provide a new expanded and transformed multi-modal hub for the district adjacent to the historic station, and improved access to existing rail services, Metrorail, DC Streetcar and bus services,” Grimshaw (project designer) said.

Vietnam Is Planning High-Speed Rail Connections With China

Vietnam aims to start building two high-speed railway lines linking its capital Hanoi with China before 2030, the Ministry of Planning and Investment said.

Demand Increases for Tampa to Orlando Rail Expansion and Beyond

Less than a year has passed since Brightline expanded service from Miami to Orlando. Now, the rail service is focused on making its next stop in Tampa.

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