CALTRAIN has announced that it will exercise a contract option with Stadler to purchase a battery-equipped double-deck electric multiple-unit (BEMU) comprising three passenger cars and a single power car at one end housing the battery and traction equipment.

The California Transportation Commission has approved the allocation of funding for the project from an $US 80m California State Transportation Agency grant. The funding will support the procurement of one BEMU; testing at the Transportation Technology Centre in Pueblo, Colorado; and upgrades to the San Jose central maintenance facility and Gilroy stabling and station area to facilitate charging and maintenance.

Under the current demonstration plan, the BEMU will enter operation on Caltrain’s newly-electrified San Francisco - San Jose line after work on this project concludes in 2024. The train will use battery power to operate on the non-electrified section between San Jose and Gilroy, offering intermittent demonstration trips to Salinas. The battery will be recharged when the train is powered by overhead catenary.

Caltrain says the goal is to “show successful service operations and learn from the implementation to provide a roadmap for future BEMU operations and procurement,” and ultimately “lead the way for Caltrain to operate a fully zero-emission service in the future.”

Caltrain adds that the train will go into operation after undergoing additional testing and securing certification from regulatory agencies. If successful, it says BEMUs could replace diesel traction on non-electrified lines.

“The benefits of this would not only be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality, but also significant service upgrades,” Caltrain said. “This includes potential improved service times to Gilroy resulting from better performance of the BEMU compared with diesel locomotives, improved travel times on the entire corridor, and decreased service costs resulting from removing diesel locomotives from service, and increased reliability should overhead power systems fail or utilities experience outages.”

Caltrain is due to launch electrified service in the autumn of 2024, which is two years later than originally planned. The commuter operator’s $US 2.4bn electrification project is upgrading and electrifying the 82km double-track line from 4th and King Street station in San Francisco to Tamien station in San Jose.

Caltrain awarded Stadler a $US 551m contract in August 2016 to supply 16 six-car Kiss double-deck EMUs. The 177km/h trains have been built at the manufacturer’s plant in Salt Lake City and there are options worth $US 385m under the original contract to supply up to 96 additional cars.

In December 2018, Caltrain exercised an option to extend the trains from six to seven cars, and ordered another three seven-car trains. The Caltrain board also approved exercising options four additional EMUs earlier this month.

Caltrain has so far received four EMUs with further deliveries from Stadler expected this autumn.

For detailed data on North American passenger fleet orders, subscribe to IRJ Pro.