Progressing Towards a Fully Electric Caltrain

by Balfour Beatty

October 4, 2023

Balfour Beatty is powering progress on Caltrain’s 52-mile electrification project, accomplishing major milestones during the delivery of its Overhead Contact System (OCS).

The team has successfully installed every pole, which supports the OCS and strung all wiring which feeds power to Caltrain’s new electric trains. With these monumental milestones complete, the Caltrain Electrification project is another step closer to passenger service in Fall 2024.

To execute the complex operation, Balfour Beatty installed 2,569 pre-engineered poles along the 150-year-old right-of-way which happens to be an active railroad. The steel poles were safely lifted and elevated into place and then mounted to the ground, a process that involved ongoing collaboration and hours of work around the clock to complete. Watch a video of the final pole installation here.

With all OCS poles in place, Balfour Beatty then installed the final wires for the OCS system. Messenger, Contact, Feeder and Static wires were installed by leveraging Balfour Beatty’s wire train equipment in addition to pulling wire manually. In total, 501 miles of wire were strung on the project which is equivalent to traveling from San Mateo, California, to Zion National Park in Utah.

“Installing the OCS’ poles and stringing all wires was a massive feat that took diligent planning and ongoing collaboration between our team and industry partners, and our client,” said Mark Konchar, Balfour Beatty US Civils president. “With each and every milestone achieved, I am thoroughly impressed with our teammates determination in progressing this project forward and providing an electrified rail service for Caltrain passengers in Northern California.”

Balfour Beatty and its industry partners have since powered two traction power substations in San Jose and South San Francisco making it possible to fully power the entire Caltrain electrified corridor once testing, and OCS is complete this fall.

In addition to these project milestones, the signal system that allows the trains to operate along the system’s corridor has been upgraded and new electric trains have been successfully tested at maximum track speed of 79 mph.

As our team finishes the final work on the OCS, trains will continue to be tested on the southern end of the corridor and will be expanding to more parts of the system in the months to come.

To learn more about the Caltrain Electrification project, please visit