THE first two seven-car Stadler Kiss double-deck EMUs for Californian commuter rail operator Caltrain have departed the manufacturer’s facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, for testing in California.

The EMUs will replace Caltrain’s existing diesel fleet. Caltrain awarded Stadler a $US 551m contract in August 2016 for 16 six-car Kiss double-deck EMUs, with an option for a further 96 cars worth an additional $US 385m.

The trains have spent the past year testing at speeds of up to 185km/h at the Transportation Technology Centre test track in Pueblo, Colorado.

The trains have a maximum speed of 177km/h and feature bogies with built-in air-suspension to reduce vibrations and noise emissions.

The EMUs are hauled towards California 160km east of Reno. Caltrain.

In December 2018, Caltrain exercised an option to extend the trains from six to seven cars, and ordered another three seven-car trains, as part of the San Francisco - San Jose electrification project.

Testing on part of the 82km line is expected to start soon. Initial tests will use an AEM7 electric locomotive on the southern section once it is energised. The entire line will be energised in the summer.

Electric services are expected to commence in 2024, two years later than planned. This is due to complications in the installation of signalling system, unforeseen conditions under the tracks and  the Covid-19 pandemic. The cost has also risen to $US 2.44bn, making it $US 462m over the initial project estimate.

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