Caltrain, Balfour Beatty and PG&E Celebrate Major Milestone of Electrification Project with Successful Energization and Testing of Full 51-Mile Caltrain Corridor

by Caltrain

April 9, 2024

Caltrain, with its partners Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Balfour Beatty, has successfully energized and tested the full 51-mile Caltrain-owned corridor between San Francisco and San Jose. This milestone achievement in the Caltrain Electrification Project signifies major progress in expanding Caltrain’s ability to test electric trains at full speed along the corridor and prepare for electrified revenue service in September 2024. 

“The completion of the Overhead Catenary System allows us to test electric trains along our entire corridor,” said Caltrain Executive Director Michelle Bouchard. “This is a momentous step in the Caltrain Electrification project as we approach the launch of electrified service in fall 2024. We want to thank PG&E and Balfour Beatty, as well as all of Caltrain and TASI’s dedicated employees and consultants for their help and coordination with this historic achievement.” 

“The success of the first electrification conversion within a major transit system is attributed to the relentless work and partnership between Balfour Beatty, PG&E and Caltrain,” said Mark Konchar, Balfour Beatty US Civils President. “Balfour Beatty dedicated global resources to achieve this monumental milestone safely and satisfactorily which has been an extraordinary journey to date in enhancing Caltrain’s rail service for local passengers. We are proud of all team members involved who continue to bring this transformative transportation solution to reality.”

“We're proud of collaborating with partners like Caltrain to bring safe, affordable, clean, and electrified transportation from San Jose to San Francisco and every hometown along the way,” said Teresa Alvarado, PG&E Regional Vice President of South Bay and Central Coast. 

Caltrain has built two main traction power substations, one in San Jose and the other in South San Francisco. Together, with one switch station and seven parallel stations along the corridor, power substations provide, distribute, and regulate electricity to the overhead wires which will power Caltrain’s new high-performance electric trains. 

Caltrain, PG&E and Balfour Beatty’s work to complete the energization was substantial, needing to be safely conducted while maintaining rail service to more than 20,000 customers every weekday who depended on the existing infrastructure. 

PG&E infrastructure upgrades include: 

  • Constructing 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.  

  • Rebuilding the East Grand and FMC substations that enabled PG&E to support Caltrain’s request for redundant transmission feeds. 

  • Upgrading three PG&E and two third-party remote end substations. 

As crews continue to test electric trains along the corridor, 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. More safety information about Caltrain Electrification is available here.  

Caltrain’s historic Electrification Project is the first undertaking in North America in a generation in which diesel trains and their infrastructure components are transitioned to an electrified system. Electrification means faster and more frequent service, including doubling the frequency on weekends. The passenger experience will be greatly improved as well with the new trains featuring Wi-Fi, power outlets at every seat, onboard displays with digital trip information, and increased storage capacities.  

Electrification will also help meet ambitious regional and state climate action goals by lowering greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and relieving traffic congestion. Additionally, electrified service will advance equity as well as sustainability along the corridor by reducing noise and air pollution while increasing access for priority equity communities. It will also set the framework for California’s future High Speed Rail network that will run on the Caltrain corridor.  

Caltrain recently began offering four new fare promotions, offering discounts for families, groups, youth and hybrid workers.

Read Caltrain's full press release here.