Caltrain and PG&E celebrate major milestone of electrification project

Aug. 30, 2022
The electrification of the Caltrain system will deliver major benefits to the communities that it serves.

Caltrain's electrification project reached a major milestone, with Caltrain's traction power substation in San Jose being energized for the first time with power from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

“This is a critical step forward in the Caltrain electrification project, signifying power availability along a six-mile stretch of the corridor between Santa Clara and San Jose,” said Caltrain Acting Executive Director Michelle Bouchard. “Before activating this southern segment, we are ensuring that all employees and contractors receive the necessary safety awareness training to work in electrified territory. Availability of power will enable us to begin testing and commissioning the overhead contact system and new EMU trains. We want to thank PG&E for their help and coordination with this complex undertaking.”

“With this energization, PG&E is proud to help Caltrain modernize and electrify a critical transportation link for the Bay Area and California as a whole,” said Ahmad Ababneh, PG&E electric operations vice president of projects and construction. “We couldn’t have achieved this important milestone without the tenacity and nimbleness of the entire PG&E team who worked together to safely construct and upgrade numerous facilities including substations and transmission lines to support Caltrain’s project.”

Caltrain’s substation in San Jose is also one of two main substations along the Caltrain corridor, with the other one being in South San Francisco. Together, with eight other smaller facilities along the corridor, power substations provide, distribute and regulate electricity to the overhead wires which will power Caltrain’s new high-performance electric trains.

PG&E’s work to complete the project for Caltrain was substantial and needed to be safely conducted while maintaining reliable service to more than 20,000 customers also served by the existing infrastructure.

The infrastructure upgrades from PG&E include:

  • Construction of two, double-circuit 115 kV transmission connections from the East Grand Substation in South San Francisco and the FMC Substation in San Jose to Caltrain traction power stations in those communities.
  • Rebuilt the East Grand and FMC substations that enabled PG&E to support Caltrain’s request for redundant transmission feeds.
  • Additional upgrades to three PG&E and two third-party remote end substations.

As Caltrain crews continue to install more poles and wire for the electrification system, Caltrain is embarking on a public outreach campaign to educate passengers, residents and businesses about best safety practices along the corridor. The agency has sent out mailers, hosted community meetings and embarked on social media campaigns to remind everyone that all overhead wires on Caltrain property should be assumed to be energized now. 

The electrification of the Caltrain system will deliver major benefits to the communities that it serves. Electrification will reduce Caltrain’s greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate the particulate matter caused by the aging diesel engines. Engine noise created by the trains will also be reduced.

Service will become both more frequent and more comfortable, as state-of-the-art electric trains replace the 30-year-old diesel fleet. Caltrain electrification has also created thousands of jobs locally and throughout the country, both to electrify the corridor and to assemble the new trains. The infrastructure that is being installed will be compatible with future high-speed rail on the corridor.

The Caltrain Electrification Project is expected to be completed in 2024.

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May 24, 2013