In September, Caltrain is expected to start construction on a major project to keep the trains safer called the Communication Based Overlay Signal System, the agency’s first step toward the electrification of the corridor.
CBOSS will also incorporate Positive Train Control, a federal mandate put in place after a Metrolink commuter train collided head-on with a freight train in 2008 that killed 25 people in Southern California.
PTC is GPS-based safety technology capable of preventing train-to-train collisions. It also monitors and controls train movement in the event of human error and may also bring trains to a safe stop in the event of an earthquake.
CBOSS, combined with PTC, will benefit both Caltrain and the High-Speed Rail Authority and is being paid for with a variety of funds from federal, state and local sources at an estimated cost of about $231 million.
In September, the agency will commence trenching work along the corridor to bury fiber optics underground in conduits, agency spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann told the Daily Journal. After that, several poles will be erected along the corridor, up to 90 feet tall, as part of the signaling system, she said.
With the federal mandate, the PTC work must be complete by October 2015, Ackemann said.
CBOSS will provide the corridor with more functionality, she said, and is part of the $1.5 billion modernization project that will electrify the tracks and allow the agency to ditch its diesel trains in place of quieter and cleaner electric vehicles similar to Bay Area Rapid Transit trains.
The agency hopes to have the modernization effort complete by 2019.
CBOSS will also help keep the diesel trains running while the agency undertakes the electrification project.
When complete, electrification is expected to bring in more riders because Caltrain will be running more trains throughout the day.
All the new work the agency has undertaken has also caused it to hire a number of consultants who have the expertise that Caltrain lacks in-house, Ackemann said.
The agency has even provided relocation subsidies, up to $12,000 a year, to get the experts closer to Caltrain headquarters in San Carlos.
At least 10 different consultant companies provide on-call information technology support for the agency under an $8.5 million contract approved by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board in 2011.
The consultants include: Auriga Corporation, of Milpitas: CH2M HILL, Inc., of San Francisco; CMC America, Inc., of Sunnyvale; CompuCom Systems, of Dallas; Gannett Fleming, Inc., of Mill Valley; Karen Antion Consulting, LLC, of Stamford, Conn.; LM Telecommunications, of Cedar City, Utah; Modis, of San Jose; RNR Consulting, of Cleveland, Ohio; and Stantec Consulting Services, of San Francisco.
Caltrain can tap any of the consultants to fill work directives, Ackemann said.
The agency contracted with Karen Antion Consulting from November 2011 to 2012 for the PTC project who then tapped subconsultant AECOM to help develop the initial phases of the project. The total contract for the year’s worth of work was a little more than $599,000 with most of it billed by AECOM’s Project Manager Jack Buckingham — 2,080 hours at $275 an hour for a total of about $572,000. KAC, as the contract administrator, billed Caltrain 48 hours at $105 an hour for a total of a little more than $5,000.
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