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Caltrain Modernization Program

A $1.7 billion program, including electrification and a positive train control system, improves commuter rail service.

  • Rendering of Caltrain’s future electric multiple unit train car - Gannett Fleming

    Converting from diesel to electric trains, pictured in the rendering, will enable more frequent and faster service.

  • Map of corridor electrification project from San Francisco to Tamian Station south of San Jose - Gannett Fleming

    The new electri­fication system will operate on approximately 51 miles of Caltrain right-of-way.

Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain)


San Francisco to San Jose, California

Our Role
Program Management, Technical Advisory Services, Design, Construction Oversight.

51-mile rail corridor
Construction Cost
$1.7 billion
In progress
  • Improve train performance, provide faster service, and reduce noise
  • Improve regional air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions
  • Support increase from 60,000 daily riders to a projected 111,000 by 2040
  • Set the stage for the integra­tion of high-speed rail service.

For more than 150 years, residents and visitors in Califor­nia’s Bay Area have used pas­senger rail to travel between San Francisco and San Jose. In a region that has become the epicenter of modern technolo­gy and innovation, the Caltrain system now handles 60,000 daily riders along a 77-mile route with 32 stations. But after years of substantial growth, ridership demand has outgrown system capacity. As owner/operator of Caltrain, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board is implementing a $1.7 billion modernization program. When complete, the investment will electrify the system and upgrade the performance, operating efficiency, capacity, safety, and reliability of com­muter rail service.

Key to the initiative is the Peninsula Corridor electrifica­tion project for which Gannett Fleming is serving as the owner’s repre­sentative. The project will trans­form the system from a diesel-locomotive service to an electrified system equipped with high-performance multiple-unit electric trains powered by overhead catenary. The electric trains will enhance capacity and allow the system to deliver cleaner, quieter, shorter trip times, and more frequent service. Long term, electrifica­tion will be compatible with California’s planned high-speed rail sys­tem, which will provide a one-seat ride from downtown San Francisco to Los Angeles. The Caltrain Modernization Program is scheduled to be operational by late 2020 or early 2021.

What We Did

Gannett Fleming is providing elec­trification program manage­ment services for the new electri­fication system on roughly 51 miles of Caltrain right-of-way. Caltrain presently operates diesel push/pull service on this route and will convert to two 25 kilovolt 60 hertz electrification systems to operate its service. Significant modifications also will be made to the signal systems, SCADA systems, communi­cations systems, and the back office and dispatching systems.

Our work includes performing the overall electrification program management services; designing bridging documents for design-build; advising on alternative delivery construction alternatives; providing risk management advice to the project owner; performing systems integration; coordinating with utilities and host railroads (UPRR), and construction management services. Our tasks also range from overhead catenary system and traction power substation design to tunnel modifications and a right of way survey. 

Key Features

  • Modifications to a Communications Based Overlay Signal System Positive Train Control, an advanced signal system that includes federally mandated safety improvements
  • Replacement of Caltrain’s diesel trains with high-performance EMUs, which will allow Caltrain to provide shorter trips and/or more stops in the same amount of time
  • Coordination with two major traction power substations and seven autotransformer substations
  • Modifications to 55 highway grade crossings.

Sustainability Features & Outcomes

  • By 2040, the project is expected to:
  • Reduce greenhouse gases by 176,000 metric tons of C02 annually
  • Reduce daily traffic congestion by 619,000 vehicle miles
  • Reduce engine noise from the trains, as noise from electrified train engines is measurably less than diesel train engines
  • Help meet California’s emission reduction goals.

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