03 February 2024

The Cost of EMU Maintenance

Caltrain recently published a strategic financial plan update, where we learn that maintaining each EMU in the new electric fleet in good working order is expected to cost $1.2 - 1.5 million per year, a significant increase from last year's estimate. This post seeks to answer the question: is that crazy?

This analysis revisits and updates an older post here.

Historical vehicle maintenance costs

Note these figures are in constant 2023 dollars
The National Transit Database is a fantastic resource provided by the federal government, charting facts and figures for every transit operator in the United States. For the period 2000 - 2022, we look up vehicle maintenance costs and vehicle revenue miles for Caltrain as well as for two regional rail operators in the New York City area (Metro-North and LIRR), who operate the largest "heavy rail" EMU fleets in the United States in a region with similarly high costs as the Bay Area. Note that New Jersey Transit is not included because teasing out their large bus fleet from the overall agency figures is complicated. Dividing vehicle maintenance expense (adjusted for inflation to 2023) by vehicle revenue miles, we get the approximate per-mile cost of vehicle maintenance. One can guess that Caltrain's increase after 2017 is related to operating the legacy fleet way past its retirement age. In constant 2023 dollars, eyeballing this chart, the cost of maintaining EMUs might be around five bucks per vehicle revenue mile -- let's charitably say four because Caltrain's fleet is brand new and won't break down as much as older fleet mixes used by the other operators.

Caltrain EMU vehicle revenue miles

The new service plan published by Caltrain makes it easy to calculate the number of annual EMU vehicle revenue miles. There are 66 trains per weekend day (33 in each direction, for 16 hours of half-hourly service, with every other train serving Tamien) and 104 trains per weekday (52 in each direction, with 18 hours of half-hourly service = 36 plus 8 hours of additional peak express service = 16). It's 46.7 miles from SF to SJ, and 48.4 miles from SF to Tamien. That adds up to 2*(16*48.4+17*46.7) =  3137 revenue train miles per weekend day, and 2*(18*48.4+18*46.7+16*46.7) = 4918 revenue train miles per weekday. Each train has seven vehicles, as defined by the FTA. Assuming each year has 6 holiday weekdays with weekend-like service, that all works up to 11.2 million vehicle revenue miles per year, which is... a lot. For context, the most service Caltrain ran pre-covid was 7.9 million vehicle revenue miles. The increase of 41% arises from running half-hourly service all day, every day, with long seven car trains.

Caltrain projected vehicle maintenance expenses

Note these figures are in year of expenditure
The 2024 strategic financial plan helpfully breaks out projected annual vehicle maintenance expense by fleet, with the EMUs charted separately from the diesels. The EMU costs are shown at right (MoE = Maintenance of Equipment). These figures are in year of expenditure, not inflation adjusted, so we need to make some assumptions before we can compare apples to apples. Taking 5% inflation and deflating these figures back to 2023, the previous forecast (in red) was $12M, while the new forecast (in blue) is closer to $21M with 19 EMUs climbing to $25M when all 23 currently on order are delivered. We can guess that in the out years, Caltrain is assuming that ridership has bounced back enough that the FTA will require them to operate six trains per peak hour per direction (104 + 32 = 136 trains per weekday) as originally planned, further increasing to 13.9 million vehicle revenue miles per year.

Putting it all together

We've made some assumptions that are not completely valid -- namely that vehicle maintenance cost scales directly with the number of revenue miles operated. To first order, this is true, but vehicle maintenance cost has time-based components (such as mandated inspections, or replacement of ultraviolet-crazed window glazing) and distance-based components (such as wheel and brake wear). Not everything scales proportionally to revenue miles. With this caveat in mind, let's see what happens.

If you multiply 11.2 million vehicle revenue miles by $4 of vehicle maintenance cost per vehicle revenue mile from the National Transit Database, you end up at $45M per year (again, with everything in 2023 dollars.)

Caltrain's latest figure is half that, so what looks like a large increase in their latest strategic financial plan may still be an underestimate. Their estimate of $21M divided by 11.2 million vehicle revenue miles gives just $1.90 of vehicle maintenance per vehicle revenue mile for the EMU fleet (in 2023 dollars), a value lower than Caltrain has ever achieved with its legacy fleet.

Seen another way, 11.2 million vehicle revenue miles operated with 19 trains works out to 590,000 vehicle revenue miles per year (or, since each train has 7 vehicles, 84,000 miles per year on the odometer) corresponding to $2.4M of vehicle maintenance cost per EMU set per year. Their estimate of $1.2 - 1.5M seems low in comparison. This could be due to high utilization, which would dilute the time-based component of maintenance cost.

Verdict: these EMU maintenance costs are not crazy -- they might even be too low.

Appendix: Gilroy branch

While we're at it, we can do a quick sanity check on the Gilroy branch, which will continue to operate with a reduced diesel fleet. There are four weekday round trips. Gilroy is 30 miles from SJ. The trains have five cars. This works out to 1200 vehicle revenue miles per weekday, or 306,000 vehicle revenue miles per year, or less than 3% of Caltrain's total. At four bucks a mile, that's $1.2M per year for the entire diesel fleet.

Caltrain's figures are closer to $7M per year (again, in 2023 dollars). That seems like a lot, but consider the extremely low utilization of the dedicated diesel fleet, less than 7000 miles per year per diesel locomotive, means that time-based vehicle maintenance costs will dominate, the opposite of the EMU fleet.

If the fiscal cliff is real and not some made-up crisis, then the under-utilized rail service on the Gilroy branch should be replaced by bus service and the entire diesel fleet that is dedicated to it, maintenance costs and all, should be unceremoniously dumped off Caltrain's balance sheet.


  1. Nice summary as always. Increasing costs with electrified service is a big concern. Not just the EMUs but the cost of maintaining the catenary too. Maybe they should consider running shorter trains at least on the weekends?
    I don't agree about the Gilroy service. Unless Caltrain ridership rebounds dramatically faster than predicted in the next 2 years it is likely to need another sales tax measure to keep running a decent level of service. Eliminating all service for the large population south of Tamien is not a good way to get to 67% on a ballot measure. Even though ridership is low, for whatever reason the idea of Caltrain service is very popular down there.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Yup, South County (Gilroy and Morgan Hill) did not have any scheduled transit service until the creation of what became VTA in the 1970s. This is why they're so fixated on train service -- eliminating Caltrain to Gilroy is a political non-starter. It's worth noting that the new 568 Rapid bus service from Gilroy to San Jose has been getting good ridership and is in fact time-competitive with Caltrain for getting to San Jose while running much more frequently. The proposed bus lanes on Monterey Road will help even more. Caltrain could potentially pawn off South County service to Monterey County by folding it into the service to Salinas. Then Gilroy gets served just by virtue of being along the way from Salinas to San Jose.

  2. Speaking of dumping Gilroy, TAMC is reportedly still shoveling tens of millions into UP extortion and building station & terminal infrastructure to prepare for its long-sought Salinas Caltrain extension:

    TAMC plan to bring Caltrain operations to Salinas chugging along

    The Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) continues to lay the path for its vision of extending Caltrain rail service, past its current endpoint in Gilroy, to a new point in Salinas.

    “The Salinas (Caltrain) layover facility is at 100% design, pending review of the track connection plans by Union Pacific Railroad and pending review of the crew base building and road plans by the city of Salinas via their building permit application process,” said Christina Watson, TAMC rail program manager, in an email.

    TAMC’s Monterey County Rail Extension project aims to extend passenger rail service on Caltrain, a commuter rail line, from Santa Clara County south to Salinas.

    Three phases comprise the Monterey County Rail Extension project.

    Phase I, dubbed the Kick Start Project, focuses on improving the existing Salinas train station which transformed it into the Intermodal Transportation Center to accommodate new passenger rail service connecting Salinas to the San Francisco Bay Area and completed it in January 2021 at a cost of about $11.2 million. The Kick Start Project also includes constructing the Caltrain layover facility at a cost of about $25 million and making track improvements to Gilroy to allow through trains to stop at the Gilroy train station at a cost of about $16 million.

    The Phase I train layover facility to be built in Salinas for Caltrain personnel and equipment is chugging along. It will be situated west of the Intermodal Transportation Center and will consist of a crew base building for operating personnel that includes lockers, restrooms, a shared office space, and other relevant facilities but will not include sleeping quarters.

    The layover facility would connect to the Coast Mainline, the Union Pacific Railroad tracks which are used by Union Pacific Railroad freight trains and by Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. The plan to construct a train crew base building, storage shed, fencing and lighting, will also include a new platform that extends to the train station and which would be used by passengers boarding Caltrain.

    “TAMC has acquired all of the property needed for the Salinas layover facility, with the exception of purchase easements or acquisition of (Union Pacific Railroad)-owned land, which is needed for the track connections into the yard,” said Watson.

    Union Pacific Railroad owns the Mainline Tracks — a corridor about 100 feet wide — and needs to approve the designs and construction of any project that affects those tracks and any proposed operation of passenger trains on those tracks.

    “UPRR is currently reviewing the design plans and evaluating the capacity of the tracks between Gilroy and Salinas for the addition of two round trips of Caltrain service on the line,” said Watson.

    The Gilroy connections are also 100% designed, pending Union Pacific Railroad review.

    “Caltrain, the city of Gilroy, and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority have all reviewed the plans,” said Watson. “There are also negotiations pending with UPRR related to property easement/acquisition near the Gilroy train yard, and there are utility relocations — Pacific Gas and Electric Company — that will need to occur prior to construction.”

    Watson said that the Gilroy and Salinas project packages are currently on the same timeline.

    “As we are bidding them separately if one of them gets all the necessary approvals first, it can go out to bid first.”

    But there are still some hurdles that remain before construction can begin on the Caltrain layover facility in Salinas.

    1. (article on TAMC’s long-sought Salinas Caltrain extension continues)

      “Steps between now and the start of construction include the completion of the final design plans following the incorporation of any edits from UPRR and the city of Salinas, acquisition of the appropriate rights to use UPRR land, publication of the bid documents, and utility relocation of Cal Water and PG&E utilities through the yard,” said Watson, who added that the schedule is subject to change based on the remaining steps, but construction might begin as early as summer 2025.

      TAMC’s Monterey County Rail Extension project would provide an alternative to traveling Highway 101, and access to San Jose and San Francisco while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting economic development, among other outcomes. The project has already revitalized the downtown Salinas train station into the Intermodal Transportation Center and is working to create new multimodal transportation hubs for the disadvantaged communities of Pajaro and Castroville.

      Phase II is the Pajaro/Watsonville Multimodal Transit Hub which is proposed for the unincorporated community of Pajaro. It will be the connection point for Santa Cruz County to new passenger rail service on the Coast mainline tracks between Salinas and the San Francisco Bay Area. In April, TAMC was awarded a $2.274 million grant by the state for the project.

      Phase III is the Castroville Multimodal Station which will be in the southeastern part of Monterey County in the unincorporated community of Castroville. It will be the connection point for passengers coming from the Monterey Peninsula to new passenger rail service on the Coast mainline tracks between Salinas and the San Francisco Bay Area.

    2. In case anyone missed it, SCCRT is getting ready to take another run at studying & then building zero-emission SMART-style Santa Cruz-Watsonville rail + trail service:

      Zero Emission Passenger Rail & Trail Project

    3. So there's a divergence between what they say (oh no fiscal cliff) and what they do (plan money-losing diesel service to faraway destinations)

    4. Is TAMC just assuming Caltrain is going to run the service? Might be useful for someone on the CAC or another interested party with a bit of pull to ask what negotiations so far have taken place and, in these times of tight resources and fiscal cliffs, how much staff and consultant time has been spent on a Salinas extension. I cannot see how any of the three funding partner counties would be happy to spend outside their jurisdictions. Has TAMC identified operating subsidies for the service? For the record, as discussed many times before on this great site, it should be an extension of the Capitol Corridor, not Caltrain.

    5. There is a MOU between Caltrain and TAMC: https://www.tamcmonterey.org/files/5ed078e68/TAMC-Caltrain+JPB+MOU+Final+with+Exhibits+-+signed.pdf

      From a summary (https://www.caltrain.com/media/28712/download) the four key elements are:
      1. Service must be cost-neutral for Caltrain
      2. No changes to the Caltrain mainline service (San Francisco-Gilroy)
      3. TAMC must address all risks and liabilities of a new service
      4. No changes to the JPA governance structure

    6. Yes, thanks @Anonymous … as Caltrain staff has presented at their March 2, 2023 board meeting, and as I think I’ve posted here and/or on another forums in the past, the MOU basically requires that TAMC covers all planning, implementation, and operating costs, and cause no service impacts.

      Christina Watson, TAMC’s Director of Planning, spoke about Salinas extension planning history and progress (via Zoom) and answered questions at the CAC’s February, 2023 meeting.

  3. Is it too late for Caltrain to purchase shorter trainsets for future off-peak service?

    1. My understanding is that they still have purchases to make: The 7-car trainsets could be lengthened to 8 cars; DTX will arguably require an additional train or two; they recently executed an option to buy four more 7-car sets but there are still 6 diesel locomotives (envisioned for replacement with BEMUs). Those further purchases would only happen in a non-fiscal-cliff, growth scenario.

      Rather than purchasing 4-car trainsets, it would likely make sense to purchase single cab cars, with whatever amenities (e.g. toilet) needed to split the existing 7-car sets into 4+4 sets. Folks were pushing for this before Caltrain exercised the 7-car purchase option; I haven't been able to find Roland Lebrun's "Business case for 4-car Caltrain EMU trainsets" but it was sent in here: https://www.caltrain.com/media/31362/download .

      Seeing as the chance to modify the purchase option has passed, most of the remaining diesel locomotives to be replaced are part of Gilroy service, and we don't seem to be headed toward a growth scenario that would justify further purchases, it's probably now too late to shorten the trainsets soon, but also maybe just possible.

    2. "Is it too late for Caltrain to purchase shorter trainsets for future off-peak service?"
      Yes. Caltrain's incompetent, unprofessional and unqualified hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars-of-negative-value perma-temp consultants have ensured this.

      "Rather than purchasing 4-car trainsets, it would likely make sense to purchase single cab cars, with whatever amenities (e.g. toilet) needed to split the existing 7-car sets into 4+4 sets.".

      No. Caltrain's hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars-of-negative-value perma-temp consultant scum have ensured this isn't possible.

      Check out Stadler's sales brochure showing the layout of the client-from-hell Caltrain KISS order.

      First thing to note is the tremendous amount of interior passenger space lost to electrical equipment, because nobody at Caltrain cares about capacity or efficiency or cost-effectiveness or about service planning.

      Using the electrical cabinets as a guide, you can see just what the idiots have purchased, at a 50+% price premium over any other Stadler KISS order anywhere elsein the world, using your tax dollars:

      2'Bo' [cab car, 2 axles powered]
      + Bo'Bo' [ADA toilet car, 4 axles powered]
      + 2'2' [unpowered car, seats removed for bike racks]
      + Bo'Bo' [another four powered axles]
      + Bo'Bo' [yet another four powered axles]
      + 2'2' [unpowered car, seats removed for bike racks]
      + Bo'2' [cab car, 2 axles powered]

      (Do note that the additional cars these cretins purchased to lengthen every train from 6 to 7 cars are the second "Bo'Bo' [another four powered axles]" in each train.)

      There are a total of 16 out of 28 axles powered, far more than any other KISS ordered by any competent operator anywhere else in the world, ever. (Typical recent 25kv or 15kv orders are 33% powered, eg SBB RABe 512 or OeBB hr 4736, and only the cab cars have powered axles, concentrating less electical equipment in smaller space. But, you know, Caltrain. They're SPECIAL.)

      Anyway, So let's say you find yourself saddled with 133 of these fine Stadler EMU cars, for ... reasons. What are you options?

      Well, none, really.

      The two 2'Bo' cab cars are fixed. (It would be interesting to discover what Caltrain consultant insanity lead to an unpowered bogie in the cab cars, when everybody else is pretty much Bo'Bo'+2'2'+2'2'+2'2'+2'2'+Bo'Bo'. In fact, nobody anywhere in the world, low-voltage DC orders aside, has ever ordered Bo'Bo' powered intermediate cars. Nobody aside from trailblazing world-leading Caltrain.)

      The ADA toilet Bo'Bo' is fixed. (If you weren't an idiot you'd have put the non-optional toilet in a non-optional cab car, but here we are.)

      3 fixed so far, zero choices possible, 8 of 12 axles powered.

      What else can you do? What "choices" are there?


    3. ...

      What else can you do? What "choices" are there?

      Well, the only not-unreasonable thing for a 100m 4-car consist would be an 2'2' unpowered car. (Likewise two for a 125m 5-car, or three of them for a 150m 6-car.) Note all the unpowered cars Caltrain bought come with many seats removed for bike racks. But sure, that sort of cosmetic interior can be reconfigured easily enough, for some more tax dollars.

      So your four car consist might be 2'Bo'+Bo'Bo'+2'2'+Bo'2 -- 8 of 16 axles powered, 3 of 4 cars losing seat space to electrical equipment, 1 of four cars losing seat space to bike racks.

      Oh, and for each train you shorten this way end up with Bo'Bo' + Bo'Bo' + 2'2' leftovers. This is hopeless, because Bo'Bo' intermediate powered cars are the one thing you don't want, and that fucking Caltrain bought far too many of.

      You can't assemble more trains from these Bo'Bo' leftovers, even after you order many additional cab cars. They're useless. They're expensive. They're overpowered. But you own them now! You own 38 too many of them, in fact. Great success! You also own 19 bonus unpowered "bike car" trailers.

      Similarly, a 5-car 125m train ought to be 2'Bo'+Bo'Bo'+2'2'+2'2'+Bo'2 -- a less-unreasonable 40% powered axles. You've used up other 19 2'2' trailers. But you still own 38 too many useless Bo'Bo' intermediate cars that still can't be made into useful trains. They're not useful as spares. They're no use to anybody.

      Next up, 6-car 150m. (This would be Bo'Bo'+2'2'+2'2'+2'2'+Bo'Bo' anywhere not run by idiots, but we're stuck with 2'Bo' cab cars for some unique Californian reason.) Another unpowered trailer to make 2'Bo'+Bo'Bo'+2'2'+2'2'+2'2'Bo'2 (8 of 24 axles powered, perfectly in line with what competent operators order) would be the right thing, except ... Caltrain doesn't have any extra 2'2' cars, just 38 of the fucking useless Bo'Bo's. So your only "choice" is 2'Bo'+Bo'Bo'+2'2'+Bo'Bo'+2'2'+Bo'2' (50% powered axles, too many electrical cabinets) and you're still left with 19 useless Bo'Bo's that can't be made into extra trains.

      It's hopeless. We're painted into a corner and shot in the foot, deliberately. This is what the elsewhere-unemployable consultant assholes who "run" Caltrain do every single time. We're doomed.

    4. Broken "Stadler's sales brochure" link: https://www.stadlerrail.com/media/pdf/kcal0220e_us-1_doorplug.pdf#page=2 (note they neglected to update "Axle Arrangement: 2'Bo' + Bo'Bo' + 2'2' + Bo'Bo' + 2'2' + Bo'2'" from the 19x6 original order. And aren't the translations into inches and miles per hour per second per second simply adorable? As if anybody who reads this sort of stuff could care. And 23.6t/axle load? Is that normal for KISSes, or some Caltrain boat anchor lead balloon craziness? Anybody know?)

    5. Richard, you seem very passionate about the procurement topic :)

      A possible reason for buying trains with more powered axles than any other Stadler Kiss customer might be that Caltrain is unique in installing overhead AC power and also wanting/needing metro style acceleration performance?

      On one hand it would likely long term had been better if they had spent more money on quad tracking all the way SF - SJ and/or other infrastructure improvements as that would long term had been better. But on the other hand, both short term investment wise and also in general for the actual users it's better to have trains with faster acceleration than on any other comparable system as the end result is a shorter commute, which in turn is a life improvement for all users.

      Re bike racks: I have no defined opinion on allowing bikes on commuter trains in general (there are pros and cons), but I'm passionate in my opinion that having a few bike racks is bad both for users with bicycles and users without bicycles. The racks take up valuable space and at the same time there is a great risk that you won't find space for your bike and thus you would have to wait for the next, the next and the next train, or possibly take a train in the contra flow direction to the end station and jump on an empty train in the direction you actually want to go to. In the end you probably spend more money waiting for trains and whatnot than it would had taken biking all the way instead of taking the train.

      A solution is to only allow bikes off-peak and have foldable seats (that the staff locks in the folded away position off-peak, so no-one starts using them and taking up space intended for bikes).

      Side track re bicycles: I wish that society in general or at least insurance companies would treat bicycles as real vehicles rather than just like random property (similar to say a hifi system). By that I mean that it would be great if there were insurances that work the same way as a full car insurance. I.E. you have a flat tire or any other problem with the bicycle - you call your insurance company and some service vehicle shows up and a technician does some preliminary inspection and possibly performs any simple repairs, or otherwise takes the bike and hands you a temporary rent/lend bike. Unfortunately as I understand it any bicycle insurance will only cover theft/vandalism and whatnot.

    6. Anonymous: American rolling stock generally tend to have significantly higher axle loads than European analogs, so it's entirely unsurprising that they made their KISSes chonkier (why, though). I'd be quite surprised if European KISSes go over 20 t/axle. (For comparison, it was considered a minor debacle that the Siemens ES64 had nearly 22 t/axle, and that's a locomotive.)

      MiaM: at Anonymous' above link, starting acceleration is listed as 1.0 m/s^2. Meanwhile, the "international standard" layout 6-car sets (as delivered to SBB) have a starting acceleration of 1.1 m/s^2 according to https://web.archive.org/web/20100920093857/http://www.stadlerrail.com/media/uploads/factsheets/DOSBBZ0908e_DOSTO_E.pdf Somehow, that's 10% higher starting acceleration despite "only" having 33% rather than 57% of axles powered. (Hence 33% being "not so only" and entirely adequate for modern S-Bahn service.)

      "it would likely long term had been better if they had..." -- I apologise for being blunt, but have you read this blog? Surely you couldn't have missed the extremely consistent thematic drumbeat that the investments in "concrete-pouring" were thoroughly inefficient (just like the investments in signaling -- see CBOSS -- electrification, or vehicles). Track geometry constraints that actually limit speeds were faithfully reproduced by expensive reconstruction projects, while money was lavished on aspects of track geometry that are (or at least, ought to be) complete irrelevances, such as building gentle slopes so that freight trains can seamlessly use the line that you correctly describe as metro-style.

      Regarding bicycles, what happened to having sheds (or at well-trafficked stations, veritable seas) of bike racks as a stationary part of the station? The passengers can lock their bikes there, thus they only need to bring a key onto the train, not the whole bike. Then at the end of the day, they will find ...oh right, this is the Bay Area, they will find that their bike has been disassembled while they were at work. For once, problem this isn't Caltrain's or TutorPeriniParsonEtc's fault.

    7. @MiaM: Caltrain’s GM recently told boardmembers that they’ve been (and continue) having great difficulty filling dozens of open staff positions over the last year (and hence the request for authorization to keep spending up to an average of $7.5m per year for on-call consultants). Based on the nonsensical stuff you’ve written here — especially in response to Richard’s exasperated, on-point rant about Caltrain’s bizarre and bone-headed over-motored, inflexible all-7-car-trainset EMU procurement — it sounds like you’d fit right in. 🤦🏻

    8. Oh wow, these reactions would had been a great bait if I had been a troll, which I'm not.

      Re number of driven axles: If it's true that the acceleration is even slower on the Caltrain trains than the ones operated by ÖBB, it's also most likely that the Caltrain trains can accelerate at a decent rate with more leaves on the rails than the ÖBB units can. And those leaves are one of the main topics of this blog post.

      Re bicycles: Sure, park-and-ride for bicycles can be a good thing. But as you say, there is a great risk of theft/damage. A major problem with cycling, worldwide (even in "paradises" like the Netherlands) is that law enforcement seem to treat bike theft/vandalism as a way lesser crime than car theft/vandalism (which I've read is considered a stepping stone into heavier crime, at least by the law enforcement in certain areas).

      With law enforcement not doing much, perhaps Caltrain could have some sort of protected bicycle storage where you only get access to the bicycle you actually stored previously, and/or where you have to enter personal information to get access and have to enter the storage either via a manually opened entrance, where staff makes sure no random stranger tags along, and outside office hours there could be turnstile that will only allow one person at a time, making sure that a legit user won't accidentally let a criminal in, or be forced to let a criminal in? Not super great but better than just a bike rack with no protection at all.

      A bonus side track: I think that transit agencies should A) plan so that corner shop or fast food style places can operate at transit stops in a way that the shop/restaurant staff have their eyes on what happens, and B) have a system where companies can make an offer for what they would pay for or what they want to be paid for operating at a certain transit stop with a guarantee that they are open certain hours (including those that are unprofitable for the company), with penalty if they are closed at certain times. No requirements that they actually serve something edible or sell something useful, just a requirement that they are "open" and staffed, and a requirement that they contact the right authorities and whatnot if they notice anything suspicious.

      Also, it might sound like Captain Obvious, but a major thing about biking is to not have to walk, and unless you work next door to a station you would want access to a bicycle at both ends. It can get a bit expensive if you have to have two bicycles, one at each end of the train ride. On the other hand, as bicycling is less demanding than walking and also as a bicycle has a seat, people riding a bicycle at both ends of their train journey would likely be more willing to accept not getting a seat, so the space constraints with bicycles inside a train can be mitigated a bit by that, perhaps.

    9. If you take your bike between Point A and the boarding Caltrain station and leave it there where the bike sheds or (covered, maybe fenced?) seas of bike racks are, you can't take the bike from the alighting station (level boarding and de-boarding, ha, ha, ha) onward to Point B. Why do so many only think of the "first mile" only or the "last mile" only, but not both?

      Nobody has said to get two bikes, as some get two cars to handle certain commutes, as in Seattle with the ferries. Walking is faster and cheaper, without the car waiting line problems and relatively few will choose a motorcycle, which also is favored fare- and logistic-wise. Get a Point A station bike and a Point B station bike if it's too troublesome to take a bike aboard.

    10. Caltrain, and several other transit agencies, already have "protected bicycle storage where you only get access to the bicycle you actually stored previously" in the form of BikeLink lockers. These are accessed with a BikeLink or Clipper card and cost 84¢ a day. They quite secure, I'd be comfortable leaving my bike in them even if the area were overrun with homeless people. The number of lockers per station ranges from 4 (Hayward Park) to 40 (Millbrae).

      As mentioned, this does nothing to address the need for two bikes if you don't take your bike on the train, and you don't live or work walking distance to a station. Even with two bikes, this assumes your travel will always have the same start and end points, which may not be the case for everyone. For example, maybe you want to get off a stop early to go shopping after work one day.

    11. FWIW, BART's new cars have 50% of their axles powered to provide the trains with quick acceleration. "Each car has two trucks with one 194 HP motor per axle and two axles per truck." Caltrain stop spacing isn't much different, so unlike Richard, I'm happy that Caltrain focused on reducing trip times at the cost of interior space.

      I also don't have a problem with using 7-car trains, and as a rider, I prefer that because it allows both conductors to quickly reach any part of the train in case of an incident. While there would be savings with a 4-car consist, those savings would cost the riders decreased safety and likely longer delays from incidents.

      Overall, Caltrain does make poor decisions with things like CBOSS, but one would be hard-pressed to find an example of better service from a rider perspective in the US. Last year, I took LIRR from Grand Madison to Jamaica. The convenience was excellent, but the service was so slow. With Caltrain, the trains run at 79mph if the track is straight. It's quite a surprise to see that's not true for LIRR. The 12-mile journey takes 30 minutes on a non-stop train for an average speed of 24 mph.

    12. Martin, unlike Richard you truly have no idea what you're talking about.
      But sure, believe Caltrain is winning the participation prize at the learning disabilities school if that makes you happy.
      Sure, believe that Caltrain knows things about train procurement, operations, scheduling and maintenance that have entirely escaped the entire rest of the world if that makes you happy.
      Everybody deserves to be able to pursue happiness in life. It's in the US Constitution after all.

    13. @Martin may also not be aware that apart from the O&M cost savings, BART’s running right-sized (shorter) off-peak trains ironically also has do with increasing rider safety by reducing isolation, particularly for people who identify as girls or women, as part of their "Not one more girl" campaign.

      Riders on shortened off-peak trains report feeling safer from attack and harassment with more others sitting nearby that serve as a deterrent, and as witnesses and potential protectors.

    14. Caltrain remains a decent ride and obviously is better than nothing, especially to access downtown San Francisco, again, better than nothing or something that terminates even farther away(!). It's a real shame that Caltrain is showing the same kinds of dysfunction often found in other systems as well, however expressed in each system. It's also like two projects that both planned and have been constructed partially already. When you see other changes with transportation and other policies, it's part of a general decline in the state that has increased more recently.

      I hope as with other systems it's not mismanaged with not only blundering but worse misbehavior to risk of shutdown or closure.
      There's still hope for recovery and even improvement, but trends now are working largely against that with transit and key cities in particular.

    15. Reality Check: Do Caltrain trains have security cameras on board? If not that would also be a way to decrease the risk of violence and whatnot on sparsely populated trains.

      Another would be that if the trains anyways have two conductors then one of them could for the most part reside in one of the cars, keeping an eye of things.

      Anonymous: Re possible mismanagement in the future: Given that HSR will also use the same tracks, at least the infrastructure and on-time performance of the Caltrain trains will also be an issue for HSR, which I would think or at least hope decreases the risk that any Caltrain mismanagement causing delays HSR trains would be able to continue. Sure, that won't fix everything, but it at least makes it a matter for a way larger amount of counties all the way to LA rather than the few counties that currently are served by Caltrain.

      Btw, re (mis)management and whatnot: I see way more distrust in various government functions and whatnot from people in the US than in other countries that at least have a somewhat functioning democracy.

      This might seem like the hottest take of all hot takes, but as you elect your politicians that in turn elect leaders of government functions, and you imply that they usually are incompetent and/or corrupt - you actually say that there are no people who are both honest and competent that you could elect as politicians. And that in turn means that you also think that there are no honest and competent people in the US. I find that super hard to believe. Maybe it's time for all those who voice this type of critique to rethink their stance? I know that it's more or less impossible for one random citizen to change things on their own, but if say half of the readers of this blog that live within the Caltrain area would join up and select suitable candidates for both the democrats and the republicans and do what they can to get people to vote for them rather than whoever people would otherwise vote for. Sure, I know that it's hard to find common grounds on everything and whatnot, but still worth at least having a think about.

    16. Are you actually presenting not merely one, but two conductors, one of whom might be "residing" somewhere on the train, before at least one volatile person who is well-known here, including being touchy about those Caltrain conductors?

    17. @MiaM: why stop at only 2 conductors!? You could have 29: one that actually “works” while having the rest comfortably “reside” on every level of all 4 floor areas of every oversized 7-car lightly-patronized off-peak train? … you know, you just can’t put a price on safety. 🤦🏻

    18. Reality Check: Well, it's not my suggestion having two conductors. If you anyway somehow decide on having two conductors even with very few passengers then you might as well make both of them useful.

    19. And VTA and BART continue to make the worst local undertaking look even worse, as expected.

      Cheer up, though, because old-time Caltrain atmosphere is included in the following article.

      More bad news, again

    20. On an open system like Caltrain, I would feel safer having two conductors instead of one. I would argue giving conductors police power aboard the train and Caltrain properties, with associate trainings of course, would more than justify the cost. Otherwise Caltrain can have a close system like BART, in which I am fine with no conductors aboard the trains with occasional ticket check by security guards.

    21. William,
      Police power? Including a gun? Who will act as conductors for the ~7 months of police training? Or, if you want a closed system, who is going to fence off and grade-separate the entire ROW (or somehow block entry via level crossings?), and put security fare-gates around all the Caltrain stations? Who's going to *pay* for either one? (Don't even start budgeting for payouts for wrongful-death cases)

      IMHO it's statements like this which almost justify the "volatile" responses here.

    22. @kiwi.jonathan:
      Well, you trade station agents in a close-system for a few extra conductors in an open-system. If you cut a conductor in an open-system like Caltrain, do you couple that with more frequent Police or, at minimum, security guard patrols, so passengers would feel safe, and thus more willing to ride?

      Police-power means arresting power and not necessary associate with guns. Stun-guns would suffice. Thank you.

    23. Entry via level crossings should ideally be controlled by CCTV. Caltrain needs CCTV anyways as it needs detection of stuck vehicles and thus a way for the dispatchers to check what's going on (i.e. either malfunctioning detection or a vehicle actually stuck on the tracks).

      William: The third option is fare dodging fines that are high enough that they deter fare evasion. I don't like this option, but it's an option some transit agencies use. (And then there is a somewhat softer approach where first offenders get a way less fine than series offenders. Germany has this, not sure if "first offenders" refer to during a persons life or during a certain time period, and I'm also not sure if it refers to all of the country or each transit agency separately.

      Note that I'm not taking a stance in what I just wrote, just noting that there are options to choose from. Also I repeat that what I wrote about having one of the conductors hang out in a "safer car" during the times with the least amount of passengers was just my suggestion of good use of staff that would otherwise hardly be needed. Like it can't be necessary to have two conductors just to be able to check the tickets of ten people entering the train at times with low ridership, but I get that it might be a good idea for safety reasons to have two conductors anyway, and then the second conductor can be useful by hanging out in a dedicated car.

      Side track: Are there any rules against having "danish" train ends in USA? Thinking about the type of trains that are common in Denmark and the southern parts of Sweden, with a flat front with a rubber thing around the edges. When coupling trains the rubber thing is first deflated, the trains couple, the rubber is inflated again and the front of the train with the drivers controls and whatnot is simply folded to the side, creating a relatively wide walk way between the cars, and the folded away drivers compartment looks just like any other equipment cabinet from the passengers point of view. I think these aren't allowed for new constructions in Denmark/Sweden due to them being more dangerous for the drivers in accidents (in particular a danish driver died in a shunting accident where two trains tried to couple at too high speed and the front fell in and crushed the driver of one of the trains).

      Also there is the french solution where the drivers compartment is on a cramped top floor, kind of like the top floor on certain panorama passenger wagons, while the passenger walkway is on the bottom floor. That would likely not have any safety problems. Can't remember which french rail vehicles had this, I think it was something they did many many years ago...

    24. It is not too late to order shorter trains, but almost certainly won't be cheaper per-car comparing to exercise existing options. It is also unknown how integrated is the KISS that Caltrain ordered. To make shorter trains out of existing types of cars, it may be as simple as rewriting some software, to as complex as new car types needed in order to shuffle traction and control hardware around a set, and this can be very expensive.

      The capability to regularly coupling/decoupling of the train needed to be specified at the time of rolling-stock order, even more so if gangway connection is desired.

      As for Gilroy and future services to Monterey county, if Battery KISS doesn't work out, perhaps Caltrain can borrow a few of Caltrans' hydrogen FLIRT that's currently on order. However, the best case scenario is for CHSR to build the San Jose to Gilroy section after Central Valley section is done, and Caltrain can run its trains using HSR electrified tracks.

    25. @William:
      Note that the existing cab car design lacks a pass-through door. If two train sets are coupled together, passengers and crew can't move between them while the train is in motion. Stadler could no doubt come up with a new mid-train cab car design for Caltrain's bespoke double decker sets that meets US crashworthiness requirements, but only at a cost that Caltrain can't possibly afford.

      BTW, I've been commuting on Caltrain for 15 years and I'm not convinced that there is all that much of a "crime" or "fare evasion" problem, even late at night (in fact, the only times I've had to switch cars is when I've found myself amongst too many drunken Giants fans). Caltrain is not Muni or BART. If the primary reason to shorten the train is for passenger "safety", they can turn off the lights and lock the doors in half of the train.

    26. Re regularly coupling/decoupling: The experience from Sweden is that staff will give up immediately and blame the trains for the smallest possible problem, unless you can prove that exactly the same trains work elsewhere. Specifically this means that in Sweden you can only regularly couple/decouple trains that are also used in Denmark, where staff will actually do their job in this regard.

      Not sure if this would be relevant for Caltrain if they were to have shorter trains. Just bringing this up as a possible problem.

      Re crashworthiness: Could the Caltrain section between SF and SJ be classified as a "metro" and thus have lower requirements for crashworthiness? Sets of two coupled trains could have regular rail crashworthiness on it's end cabs (without doors for passengers) for running south of SJ.

      All this is of course purely hypothetical; the likelihood of any change what's been already bought seems to be more or less zero.

      Re fare evasion: There is of course a cost-benefit balance between a certain percentage of fare evasion and the cost of combating fare evasion. (In that cost I think we should not neglect any discomfort imposed upon paying passengers, i.e. cumbersome gates and whatnot).

    27. @MiaM: where are you that you don’t know that UP has & daily exercises its “perpetual and exclusive right” to provide freight service on the Caltrain line? And that Caltrain’s line is shared with ACE, Amtrak, and Capitol Corridor trains between its Santa Clara & San Jose Diridon stations. So there can be no FRA-exempt “Metro.”

    28. Richard, the idea that any of Caltrain’s EMU cars are useless is foolish. Yes, ordering cab cars that are 2Bo’ instead of Bo’Bo’ was incredibly stupid, as was putting the non-optional toilet in its own car instead of the need-it-anyway cab car. However, absolutely none of Caltrain’s future cars would need to be discarded to expand the fleet via more but shorter train sets.
      If the current set up is
      2Bo’ [cab]
      Bo’Bo’ [ADA]
      2’2’ [bikes]
      2’2’ [bikes]
      2Bo’ [cab]
      Then the obvious solution is to order two 2Bo’ cab cars, and a single Bo’Bo’ ADA toilet car. Then you can have two 5-car sets each:
      2Bo’ [cab]
      Bo’Bo’ [ADA]
      2’2’ [bikes]
      2Bo’ [cab]
      No cars wasted, no “useless Bo'Bo' intermediate cars that still can't be made into useful trains” (What an idiotic statement from such an otherwise intelligent person! If Bo’Bo’s intermediates can’t be made into trains how will Caltrain’s 7-car sets exist!) Yes, vastly overpowered with 60% powered axles. Yes, a too-expensive order because you have to buy Bo’Bo’ intermediates instead of 2’2’ intermediates. But far less expensive than buying extra 2’2’ trailers and leaving the Bo’Bo’s sitting around.
      Alternately, you could order two Bo’Bo’ cabs (one with ADA toilet) and a 2’2’ trailer. They half of your five car trains would be:
      2Bo’ [cab]
      Bo’Bo’ [ADA]
      2’2’ [bikes]
      2Bo’ [cab]
      And the other half:
      Bo’Bo’ [cab/ADA]
      2’2’ [bikes]
      Bo’Bo’ [cab]
      Still too many powered axles, but each set would have equal power for equal performance/scheduling. There is some operational inflexibility in which cars can be made into which sets, but sets are rarely broken up, and you have started ordering the right way.
      If just looking at shortening sets from 7 cars to less because people don’t ride Caltrain as much post-Covid, then you are going to end up with extra cars sitting around, regardless. Whether they are 2’2’ or Bo’Bo’ is irrelevant at that point.

  4. @CaltrainAlerts tweet reminds us that @Caltrain suffers wheel flat spots too:

    “NB303 is holding at Morgan Hill for wheel “flat spots” - an issue with wheel wear and tear. Inspectors on way.”

  5. NTSB’s final Investigation Report RIR-24-01 on the March 10, 2022, fiery Caltrain vs. electrification crew trucks crash is out. For anyone familiar with the incident and their preliminary report, probably the only surprise is that there are no surprises: it was one overworked-sounding guy’s plain old human error.

  6. Does anybody have the story on Caltrain's first EMU collision? On March 9th, EMU set 311/312, which had been delivered last November, was spotted in tow eastbound over the Sierra (presumably back to Stadler factory) with visible sideswipe collision damage on cars 3112 and 3113, see timestamp 6:15 in linked video. WTF?

    1. Yard mishap from what I heard. Worker accidentally ran a gallery car into the side of the trainset while shunting cars around.

    2. The name of my forthcoming soft-jazz single will be "Casual Shunting". If I made you hurt, it was only an accident.

    3. Interesting that they return the whole set. How inseparable are these things?

    4. The train is probably still under warranty so that's probably why they sent the whole thing back.

    5. @Nick: yes, under warranty … but I’ve yet to see one that covers crashes. But it’d likely go back to Stadler for repairs even if it wasn’t.

    6. In general I would think that it would only be in very specific circumstances that permanently coupled cars are decoupled. Like for example if there were to be a severe accident where one end of one train collides with the other end of another train it might be worth joining the undamaged ends from both trains to form one working train while the other parts are being repaired or perhaps even scrapped (i.e. used to scavenge parts if this happens when the production run of that train type or part wise compatible trains are over).

  7. Caltrain EMU emergency braking video clip

    Impressive! … but did it cause any flat spots?

  8. Caltrain is asking for some major changes to Palo Alto's grade separation proposals. The latest Palo Alto Rail Committee meeting gives an overview of changes Caltrain is looking for. https://cityofpaloalto.primegov.com/Portal/viewer?id=0&type=7&uid=1683154a-3237-4b44-8839-b00a01b0d492

    1) Underpass alternatives need bridges to be of full width of Caltrain ROW (fair enough)
    2) Viaduct must be constructed >25ft from existing catenary for safety meaning that it will need to be on Alma and permanently reduce the number of car lanes there. Also, Caltrain wants to keep the existing at-grade tracks if a Viaduct is built.
    3) Hybrid needs to be shifted with tracks ~10ft from home fences and berm needs to be wide enough for future 4 tracks to be built on so needs to extend all the way to a wall at the edge of the ROW on Alma.

    Seems like this will finally push Palo Alto to settle on the underpass alternatives which are unfortunately pretty nasty for bikes and pedestrians and reproduce the poor experience of the existing Page Mill and Embarcadero underpass separations.

    1. The URL seems to not work, I just get an "You've been blocked" message. Unique URL for each site visitor?

      Does the 25 ft refer to horizontal or vertical separation? If it's vertical then it's totally nuts. If it's horizontal then some type of fencing should make it possible to have way less separation. (I assume that they refer to the risk of electric shock, and not for example impact from a runaway car driving off a bridge and ending up entangled in the catenary).

    2. Hmmm... you can access the presentation and staff report from this link to the HTML agenda: Palo Alto Rail Committee 2024-03-19. Hopefully that works.

      The 25ft is horizontal separation (from track center line I think). Apparently there are CPUC restrictions on how close to an active catenary certain types of construction can occur. Basically if you want to construct e.g. a retaining wall closer than that you need to deactivate the catenary.

    3. The link works if you just use the visible text:


    4. Here’s the full meeting video of yesterday’s Palo Alto Rail Committee meeting in which Caltrain’s Deputy Chief of Design & Construction Rob Barnard and an AECOM consulting engineer walk through the above-linked slide show and present and defend their analysis of, and proposed alterations, to Palo Alto’s remaining grade separation alternatives at Churchill, Meadow, and Charleston crossings:

      Palo Alto Rail Committee Meeting video — March 19, 2024

    5. Maybe it's some geo block things? Like blocking anyone in a country where GDPR applies? :/

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. There is no reason that the viaduct cannot fit into the same foot print as the hybrid option, and not encroach into Alma St. ROW.

      Palo Alto wants to avoid temporary shoofly tracks by building permanent structure beside existing tracks on the Alma St. side. Instead, Caltrain should be able to first build one half of the viaduct, move one pair of tracks onto the half-completed viaduct, then repeat the process for the second pair, by picking an alternative viaduct design instead of the single two-pair tracks width box-girder as presented in the slides, such as single pair tracks width box-girder, truss, or U-shape through-truss. By using this alternative design only one pair of shoofly tracks is needed during construction. Of course, the downside is the potentially longer construction timeline.

      There is still a lot of refinement that can be done for all options. For example, is the 10' space between backyard fence and hybrid/viaduct really needed? Can sound wall or different OCS pole locations reduce the spacing requirement?

    8. @William you are correct there is a lot of refinement that can be done in preliminary engineering and Palo Alto has federal funds waiting to be used for this step once they can narrow down their alternatives.

      According to the video of the meeting, the 10ft space from the backyard fence to the berm is to allow inspection/maintenance of the berm without accessing homeowners back yards which makes sense. The shoofly assumes center poles with 26' track spacing so maybe that track spacing could be reduced with outside OCS poles but that is again for PE phase.

  9. Random news update from Caltrain staff:

    To facilitate faster local collision repairs, Caltrain has ordered 8 pre-painted EMU noses or “masks”.

    Burlingame is said to be “being very cooperative” — 38 of their trees have already been removed, and ~200 more are planned to be removed soon. After Burlingame, the tree removal (or pruning) focus will shift to other “treesy” areas/cities.

    The CAC has reportedly arranged with staff to present Caltrain’s new “tree trimming/removal policy” to them for review and input before it is presented to the full board for approval.

    To make urgently-needed secure storage space available for new incoming trains, Caltrain has entered into a mutually beneficial agreement with SMART to store old F40s and gallery cars on unused tracks near Schellville and/or Novato … until they can be sold or otherwise properly disposed of to interested buyers in Lima, Peru and LA’s Metrolink (to bolster their planned Olympics service).

    Two of the new trains developed flat spots after successive emergency braking tests from various speeds. Caltrain has acquired two wheel-trueing machines, but ABS is supposed to prevent such flat spots so this will be a warranty claim with Stadler.

    The roll-away sideswipe-damaged trainset spotted being shipped back to Stadler in SLC for repairs will not be a warranty claim … but Caltrain is in discussion with TASI regarding the run-away gallery cars their employees failed to properly secure.

    If all goes well with upcoming traction power substation 1 (TPS1) short circuit tests in SSF, OCS energization and EMU test runs will be extended further north to San Mateo this month … and all the way to SF in April.

    A full 48-hour system shutdown is tentatively planned for the weekend of June 8-9 to allow for intensive FRA-mandated testing, including end-to-end tests running as many as 8 trainsets simultaneously.

    The long-term budget outlook remains grim without substantial combination of new/increased revenue and/or cost savings and/or cuts:

    Strategic Financial Plan Update — CAC, March 20, 2024

    1. Thanks for this update! Interesting that flat spots are considered a warranty claim.

    2. Somebody at LTK Engineering Services has *really* fucked up on this, and is probably swimming with the fishies right now.

      Here's how it is SUPPOSED to work: "Flat spots" = "American Railroading" = "40% spares ratio" = "140% contract overhead' = "LTK profit!!!!!!!"

      Here's how it's NOT supposed to work, never ever supposed, nah-uh, not ever ever never supposed to work: "Flat spots" = "Somebody fucked up and is responsible for fucking up, and they fix things, and some small things in the world get a little less horribly bad, and we don't fuck that up again."

      Those responsible for failing to fuck up have necessitated themselves to be... taken out of ... the picture". This won't happen again, or there will be ... consequences ...

    3. The bill [SB 1031] authorizes the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the regional transportation authority, to propose a measure generating a minimum of $750 million per year in revenue to stabilize transit systems’ operations, avoid service cuts, and make service better, plus additional funds to improve roadways and other physical transportation projects.

      SB 1031 does not specify the source of the revenue, but empowers MTC to choose among a sales tax, regional payroll tax, square footage-based parcel tax, and regional vehicle registration charge, or a combination thereof. As of October 2023, almost two-thirds of Bay Area voters
      [as he defines the term] agree that there is a need for more funding to address transportation in the Bay Area and 78% believe that public transit is very important for the Bay Area.


    4. The regional payroll tax makes sense. The problem with a sales tax is that sales tax revenues grow more slowly than labor costs, the primary operational expense for a transit agency (https://lao.ca.gov/reports/2013/tax/Sales-tax/Sales-tax-080513.aspx). If you fund transit with a sales tax, there will inevitably be another fiscal cliff at some point in the future.

    5. @Anonymous is correct, Caltrain staff during their gloomy Financial Plan Update presentation to the CAC last week acknowledged that Caltrain’s 1/8-cent Measure RR sales tax revenue is projected to grow at a significantly lower ~3% annual rate than their labor costs, projected to grow at ~8% annually.

      They also again stressed that falling off a future “fiscal cliff” is a wrong and misleading metaphor. A more fitting one is a “steep slope” — one that we’re already on and sliding down.

  10. @Richard: you earlier pointed out the Stadler Caltrain KISS EMU brochure has not been completely correctly updated after the 7th car was added:


    While the side and plan view diagrams show 7 cars, the bogie scheme still only shows the original 6,000kW of power distributed across 6 bogies on only 6 cars: 2‘Bo‘ + Bo‘Bo‘ + 2‘2‘ + Bo‘Bo‘ + 2‘2‘ + Bo‘2.

    Assuming 1,000kW (or 1,341 hp) per powered bogie, and if the 7th car is Bo’Bo’, then shouldn’t the correct power rating be 8,000kW (or 10,728 hp)?

    Can you (or anyone) please remind us/me how we can know the 7th car is Bo’Bo? I ask because Caltrain’s equipment roster page shows the delivered 7-car trains as 6,000kW … which would only be correct if the 7th car was unpowered (i.e. 2’2’):


    1. To thicken the plot: I was told by a Stadler engineer that the power rating is 7 MW which matches the latest revision of the Stadler Caltrain brochure. He said this was a short term peak rating, not continuous, which I guess makes sense for frequent stops on flat terrain. I expected 8 MW but who cares, it's a ridiculous amount of juice!

  11. Reedman Bassoon29 March, 2024 08:13

    Sorry to distract from the technical discussion, but as Caltrain stuff goes, this was both funny and sad that it went on for years ...


    1. Ooof. I would say that the biggest problem though is that there were space that someone could for a while get away with doing this with.

      Maybe those spaces were in awkward spots of the building, but in general I would think that most space that can be freed up should be rented out to businesses, in particular shops that sell things that passengers are likely to want to buy like corner shop stuff or restaurants.

    2. "Corner shop stuff or restaurants"

      In addition to any actual restaurants that may open similar to what's in an airport, don't overlook the usual ground-floor retail in student areas, namely sandwich shops and other chain fast food. A more eclectic offering is risky; moreover, so is a newsstand.