Caltrain recently passed the halfway mark of completing its electrification improvement project of Caltrain cars and stations, although delays to its 2022 final completion date are possible, according to an agency spokesman.
Caltrain officials are still trying to determine if delays will affect the project completion date scheduled for 2022. Caltrain is working with the Federal Transit Administration to get detailed answers on a timeframe for a project completion date and expects to know more in the first quarter of 2021, said agency spokesman Dan Lieberman said.
The pandemic has disrupted Caltrain supply lines for construction, preventing it from receiving materials like rebar cages used to support vertical columns. COVID-19 has also affected work from Pacific Gas and Electric Company on the project and created restrictions at the Stadler Rail facility in Utah, slowing its construction progress on Caltrain electric cars. Local construction crews have adapted to social distancing standards during COVID-19. It's too early to tell how much the delays will affect the timeline, Lieberman said.
Caltrain had to delay its project for a month in May after Balfour Beatty, the contractor responsible for electrifying the rail corridor, ran out of rebar cages needed for the project. Caltrain officials said at its May meeting that Balfour Beatty was failing to meet its monthly requirements. Caltrain board members expressed concern the contractor might not complete the project on time if delays continued. When asked if issues with Balfour Beatty over delayed materials and construction had been resolved since May, Lieberman said, “we continue to work with Balfour Beatty to deliver this project on time.”
Caltrain has purchased enough electric train cars for 19 train sets, which would be enough to support around 75% of electrified service at launch, Lieberman said. The electric train cars would replace diesel ones still used by Caltrain and are expected to arrive in 2021. For the week of Dec. 19, Caltrain will be working during the day to install conduits throughout Caltrain stations in San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos and Burlingame. Construction crews in 2021 must also finish installing concrete foundations for rail service, pole installation to support overhead wires for electric trains and installation of traction power facilities, which are electric power stations to distribute electricity.
The electrification improvements are part of the Caltrain Modernization Program, which will replace diesel-hauled trains with electric trains and modernize Caltrain stations from San Francisco down to San Jose. The project also works on the surrounding landscape and puts the operation system in place to run the electric trains. Caltrain started the project to increase service, lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. The project broke ground in 2017 with a goal of initial passenger service on electric cars in 2022 and further additional capacity improvements in 2023.
According to a Caltrain construction map update, construction crews working on the San Mateo station have finished 70% of concrete foundation work, 25% of pole work and 75% of traction power facility work. Construction crews are working day and night to complete the project, with daily working hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Night working hours are from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
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