Caltrain Board Authorizes Release of Electrification Design Build RFP

Feb. 9, 2015

On Feb. 5, the Caltrain Board authorized the release of the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP) Design Build Request for Proposals (RFP). 

The decision is the next critical step in the design and construction of the project to electrify the Caltrain system. Electrification, a $1.5 billion project, is expected to be operational late in 2020.

With this this action, six previously qualified firms now can provide proposals for the contract to design and construct the project. The action also specifically directs the winning bidder to design the project in a way that minimizes tree impacts and addresses other issues important to communities along the corridor.

The electrification project calls for the installation of poles to support overhead wires that will power a new fleet of electric trains. Ten traction power facilities will be constructed to provide electricity to the wires.

The RFP requires that the project be designed to include alternative pole configurations, such as a center-pole design, to significantly reduce the impact on trees. During the environmental review period, Caltrain applied these alternative designs to five test cases. In one such case, the number of trees required for removal was reduced from 50 to 14 using the alternative design.  The design alternative will be used unless physical conditions, existing utilities or other extenuating circumstances require a different approach.

The RFP will be formally released later in February. Once bids are received an extensive review process will then take place with the award of the contract scheduled for late 2015.

The board’s action is the next step after the board certified the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), which defined the impacts of the project on the community and detailed steps that will be taken to mitigate those impacts.

In addition to trees, another key topic for communities along the corridor is the final location of the project’s traction power facilities. The board action on the RFP confirms the locations of traction power facilities for the following jurisdictions: South San Francisco, San Francisco, San Mateo, Palo Alto, and Sunnyvale.  The selection of the options was based on technical feasibility and local jurisdiction preferences. The remaining final traction power facility locations in San Jose, San Mateo County and Burlingame will be selected after additional coordination with the local jurisdictions.

“The board action is a significant milestone and it also signifies our commitment to being responsive to community concerns and coordinating closely with our neighbors,” said Marian Lee, executive officer for Caltrain modernization. “We are looking forward to delivering a project that offers a unique set of benefits for the entire region and we are truly appreciative of the trust that Peninsula cities have placed in us to do that.”

Over the last few weeks, cities have weighed in to support Caltrain’s efforts to address their concerns.

“We appreciate this important outreach and [Caltrain’s] efforts to craft a collaborative solution to Menlo Park’s concerns regarding the FEIR for the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project. Your prompt response is a further indication of the efforts Caltrain is making to address our concerns while undertaking the electrification project,” said Menlo Park City Manager Alex McIntyre in a letter.

A letter from Palo Alto City Manager James Keene reads, “Thank you once again for your continued work on this project and your willingness to work on alternatives that both the city of Palo Alto and Caltrain feel are acceptable.”

The Board RFP action also determines:

  • Maintenance options that, if exercised, would commit the successful proposer team to provide specialized maintenance services for the new electrical infrastructure, which may include maintenance of the signal system.
  • Deferments/eliminations to contain project cost, including eliminating the electrification of Union Pacific-owned tracks, deferring electrification of storage tracks at the 4th and King Rail Yard in San Francisco, and Michael Yard in San Jose. These options were presented to the Board as part of the PCEP cost/schedule update in 2014 and the cumulative effect of these components amount to approximately $85 million in cost savings.
  • Construction work windows that minimize the impact to service to the greatest extent possible while expediting the completion of the work. Reduced rail service will operate on the weekends to accommodate the installation project and additional work windows will be provided overnight on Thursdays and Mondays.

The Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project is scheduled to be completed by winter 2020 and will greatly upgrade the performance, operating efficiency, capacity, safety and reliability of Caltrain’s commuter rail service.

In May 2014, as required by law, a Request For Qualifications was issued to solicit firms interested in the contract. Seven teams responded and six firms were determined to be qualified to perform the work. The six firms are: Shimmick/Alstom, a Joint Venture (JV); Caltrain Modernization Partners (JV) (Elecnor/Cobra); Balfour Beatty; Mass Electric/Siemens (JV); Skanska-Comstock-Aldridge (JV); Peninsula Electrification Partners (JV) (PTG, Isolux-Corsan). The six pre-qualified firms will have an opportunity to propose on the PCEP project.  Those proposals will be evaluated on a Best Value basis which is a combination of technical and cost factors.