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    Balfour Beatty, Caltrain and PG&E Achieve Energization of First Traction Power Substation on Electrification Project

    September 13, 2022

    Balfour Beatty, Caltrain and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) celebrate a major milestone during the delivery of the Caltrain Electrification project in San Jose, California, with the successful energization of the first traction power substation. The achievement signifies ongoing progress in providing a sustainable and a safe transportation solution within California’s transit system. 

    The energized substation in San Jose is one of two major substations along the Caltrain corridor, with the other located in South San Francisco. Together, with eight other smaller facilities along the corridor, the power substations provide, distribute and regulate electricity to the overhead contact system (OCS) wires which will power Caltrain’s new high-performance electric trains. 

    “I commend our Balfour Beatty’s Rail, Traction Power Group and industry partner teammates, Caltrain and PG&E for their successful collaboration in achieving this major milestone on the Caltrain Electrification project,” said Mark Konchar, senior vice president and managing director of Balfour Beatty’s rail operations. “This joint effort has resulted in another major step forward in electrifying the 52-mile rail corridor. The energized substation will now allow the project team to embark on testing of the overhead contact system which will support operations that replace diesel-hauled trains with new sustainable, electric trains.”

    As part of the project team, PG&E provided the power to energize the first substation which was safely conducted while maintaining reliable service to more than 20,000 customers also served by the existing facilities. The team worked to deliver infrastructure upgrades including:

    • 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 substations 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.

    “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 the PG&E and Balfour Beatty team 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 and construction partners at Balfour Beatty who worked together to safely construct and upgrade numerous facilities including substations and transmission lines to support Caltrain’s project.”

    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. More safety information about Caltrain Electrification is available here.

    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 scheduled for completion in 2024.