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Caltrain Electrification

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Caltrain Electrification
Posted by schlimm on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 5:05 PM

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, May 12, 2016 7:05 AM

Electrification of the commuter zone looks like a good idea for more reasons than clean air.  Passenger volumes are increasing so it can also be justified to handle more frequent schedules with shorter headways.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, May 14, 2016 4:50 PM

Unlike some other urban transit districts in the state, Caltrain and BART are bursting at the seams with patronage. The modernization project has been underway for some time, mainly to replace older bridges and make the ROW compatible with electrification.

At the north end, the Transbay Transit Center under construction includes a 'train box' underground for use by Caltrain and HSR. Supposedly the connecting tunnel from 4th and Townsend will be started in the next phase, around late 2017-ish.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, May 15, 2016 11:39 AM

Caltrain is suffering from a nice problem which is too many passengers by too much growth.

1.  Traffic now is 2-1/2 +  times what it was in SP days.

2.  The route suffers from some stations that have too short platforms ( some as short as 5 ? cars )  These platforms are constrained by active roads crossing at both ends. Some road crossings will be closed but that is a longer range project.

3.  The baby bullets have become very popular without taking passengers from all stations trains.  Who knows what faster trains will mean ?  *( shorter travel times ).  Note the longer bullets do not stop at shorter platforms.

4.  The electrification is going to provide for faster acceleration trains and PTC may increase speeds above 79 MPH as well.

5.  Because of the short platforms EMUs are planned to be full double deck cars with more capacity per car..  As to whether they will be taller than Superliners may not have been determined.

6. The EMUs will be subject to idiots pulling in front of trains on a route that is not sealed.  Thinking of the Metrolink problem with its cab cars. 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, May 16, 2016 10:23 PM

Be certain that remaining grade crossings will have foiur quadrent gatew, cameras, etc.  The limitation on train length because of length of platforms will insure that service is very frequent during rush hous.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Thursday, June 23, 2016 4:09 PM

The affluent NIMBYs of Atherton, CA are at it again:

http://www.almanacnews.com/print/story/2016/06/22/atherton-caltrain-squabble-over-train-horns

The idiot reporter calls the federal 'horn blowing' regulations a loophole.

If they want to reduce the remaining horn noise, perhaps they could step up local law enforcement efforts to cite trespassers or pay for more pedestrian crossing gates. Maybe join OLS and 'police' the crossings with informational pickets. Vote in a parcel tax to let the city absorb all liability when someone insists on death-by-train.

Still at the end of the day, You Can't Fix Stupid - iZombies, self-entitled crossing sprinters or clueless drivers. Hopefully Caltrain will win this round.

 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, June 23, 2016 6:16 PM

Always wondereed why that segment was never electrified to begin with.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, June 24, 2016 6:44 AM

CMStPnP

Always wondereed why that segment was never electrified to begin with.

 

 
SP probably never saw a need to electrify in the past.  Past timetables show a total of about 40-50 total suburban trains on weekdays, similar to South Shore but less than Burlington or Rock Island.
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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, June 24, 2016 9:45 AM

SP had its East Bay electrification for comparison, with Pacific Electric and the Oregon electrifications if East Bay wasn't enough.  The use of oil-fired steam was (relatively) clean for the day, and station density was low compared to the East Bay lines. SP also tended to overpower trains in the interest of acceleration, which is why for years the Trainmasters dominated the rush hour trains with the GP9s (and whatever else) used mainly for non-peak trains.  It took the SDP45s coming off Amtrak lease to finally retire the TMs.  Many SP execs rode the trains regularly so the service was kept to a high standard.  Even the ancient Harriman cars were kept clean and maintained.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 6:52 AM
Most rush-hour SF Peninsular trains in the steam era were pulled by Mountains and Northerns, while most suburban railroads used Pacifics, or Ten-wheelers. In the case of the B&M, lots o fMoguls. 
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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 8:16 AM

SP's Mountains and Northerns weren't common on the "Commute" trains until they got bumped by diesels in the mid 1950s.  That said, SP had some very powerful pacifics that worked the pool from the 1920s on.

SP had the last large group of FM Train Masters in service until about 1973 because there was nothing else to replace them with enough acceleration.  The 10 SDP45s that had been on Amtrak lease since 1971 were the answer, but even they required changes to alternator excitation and upgraded traction motor blowers.  SP also purchased three GP40P-2s in 1974 or 1975 to fill out the Commute fleet.  The rest of the pool were the eleven dual-control boiler GP9Es and a pair of SD9Es that were mainly used outside of rush hour.  Caltrain's purchase of new equipment allowed their release to freight pools or retirement.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 10:05 AM

Train Masters also served as suburban power on CNJ and possibly on RDG and DL&W because of their quick acceleration.  I believe that this was due to the properties of the load regulator.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 1:18 PM

Good points.  But still, PRR never used M-1s in commuter service, the last steam in commuter service were K-4's on the NY&LB and G-5's (G-6's?) elsewere. Ditto, of course, LIRR, both types, but onloy a few K-4's. Similary, no Niagras on NYC commut\er trains, occasional Hudsons, yes.  Never a Q O-4 on commuter trains, etc., Milwaukee, Northwestern.  And the SF lines isn't any hillier.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 2:56 PM

daveklepper
But still, PRR never used M-1s in commuter service ... Similarly, no Niagaras on NYC commuter trains ...

But sure as hell there were T1s on commuter trains, and those possessed of short stroke and high drivers with known slipping issues at both low speed and high...Devil

Note that what PRR actually 'wanted' for its commuter service in New Jersey in the late '50s was six-motor 2400hp Alcos, among the earliest second-generation examples of high horsepower in a single unit with plenty of motors to split the load and overheating among.

Commuter service is funny in that, to do it right, both high acceleration and reasonably high maximum speed are important.  A great deal of 'advanced' modern power was not good at optimizing both those things simultaneously while maintaining good efficiency and staying in good running order with minimal attention ... all for the cause of 'minimizing unavoidable losses' rather than serving as a moneymaking asset for the key properties on the railroad.

This formula was evident in my beloved U34CHs, high-horsepower engines on lightweight consists.  It was the next best thing to steam to watch and hear one of these out of River Edge on a cold winter evening when the sounds would carry clearly for miles.

(And, just for the record, the new generation of NJT PL-42ACs with the Polish 710s are not too far off that standard, musically...)

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, July 04, 2016 9:07 AM

What evidence do you have that T-1's were ever used in commuter service?   I recall riding commuter trains into Pittsburgh in Spring 1949, riding New York and Long Branch in 1951 - 1954.  I rode PRR long distance trains, often behind T-1's but more usually behind K-4's and paired K-4's, 1950 - end of steam.  T-1's were exclusively on long-distance trains, including seconday ones and all head trains, except possibly in emergency situations, and then probably only on the Chicago - Valpariso service where they could be found to be available. (Sure, once in a huge great while, a GG-1 and coaches replaced an MP-54 set in Philly suburban service.   But very very seldom.) I saw or rode behind T-1's on the Trailblazer, Spirit of Saint Louis, Red Arrow, and Cincinnati Limited, plus othe long distance trains whose names I have forgotten..

You can check on this thru locomotive assignments.  You probably won't find a single T-1 assigned to run east of Harrisburg.  Crestline was their home base.   There were plenty of G-5's and K-4's around, and they handled the steam commuter trains, not T-1's.  An E-6 Atlantic made far more frequent apperances in commuter service than a T-1. 

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, July 04, 2016 9:40 AM

I was waiting to see if anyone would bite! 

In the original Pennsy Power, p.218, Staufer notes "Finally, several ended up on Pittsburgh-Greensburg locals, of all places".  He would be unlikely to say this without some objective proof, and I suspect Susan Yosten or one of the other people with extensive PRR operating documents can find further confirmation.  I do not think this is either putting an obsolescent piece of power into service when a G5s or whatever suddenly failed, or an excuse for breaking in a new poppet valve or other component in a relatively 'safe' service.

You will notice I did not say 'commonly used'.  That would indeed be ridiculous, as there were few engines less suited for ordinary commuter service than a T1... unless there was substantial distance between the stations.  Even then, you'd start to lose in brakeshoe and coal smoke what you gained with higher achieved peak speed and acceleration above 35mph; much better to get the early acceleration 'surefootedly' and then maintain steady speed to make the necessary time.  Greensburg is on the main line about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh so I suspect there was some value in making the locals brisker than usual, perhaps mre 'politically' than effectively.

T1s could run east of Harrisburg, although there was very little point in doing so (the locomotive for which the T1 was designed as a self-powered counterpart, the GG1, would easily take any train a T1 could bring into Harrisburg further east where the electrification ran, and I'd think it relatively unlikely that a T would be used down the Northern Central or the other lines out of that city.  We do know they went to fairs in Reading and Atlantic City, so rather pointedly the curve up to the Delair Bridge was likely something they could negotiate although obviously not something you'd want them to have to pull a heavy train over...

There is no doubt the engines did best running out of Crestline as opposed to 'east of Pittsburgh' although I suspect they were much better suited to running on the Middle and Pittsburgh Divisions after 1947 (by which time it really no longer mattered as much).  Naturally the 'first best use' of the diesels was on the heavier grades, whereas there was no real question where the T's attributes were most useful and its likely drawbacks -- except for vacuum smoke effects and very-high-speed slipping with near-capacity load -- most minimized.  Staufer does take pains to note, however: "A fairly common sight was doubleheading T1s with diesels, especially over the Pittsburgh Division.  The duplex was usually first, and what a thrilling sight to see what appeared to be the T1 pulling diesel and train."  He was there, too.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Monday, July 04, 2016 6:40 PM

On one of the first Cincinnati Railroad Club's fan trips that I took, in 1954, we went to Columbus OH and toured the PRR shops and roundhouse. Outside was a "Dead Line" of about 20 T1's awaiting the torch. I had seen them pull the Ohio State Limited through Winton Place the previous year, and they looked so stately all lined up. So sad to have such a short life. Not designed for commuter duty. I bet the engineers thought the brass had lost their mind using them in that role.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, July 05, 2016 4:41 AM

I doubt that T-1's were used for very long Pittsburgh - Greensburg (one or two runs each way went as far east as Latrobe, the next station east of Greensburg in 1949).  I never saw them there when I rode PRR thought the area.  But I do stand corrected, and anything about those locomotives is of intrest to me, so thank you.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, February 17, 2017 7:23 PM

Due to the gridlock in any FTA funding grants Caltrain announces a delay in start of electrification construction.  Guess the California GOP delegation got its wish ?

http://www.caltrain.com/about/MediaRelations/news/Caltrain_Electrification_Grant_Deferred.html

 

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Posted by MikeF90 on Friday, February 17, 2017 9:02 PM

blue streak 1
Guess the California GOP delegation got its wish ?

Not just the GOP.  CalTrain electrification is not justifiable for its own projected future service increases, but mainly for the addition / co-residency of the grossly mismanaged HSR project that is to use the same corridor.

Of course, the eco-wackos will come out of the woodwork saying that electrification will clean the air and save the planet.  Hogwash.  Dots - Sign

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, February 17, 2017 10:10 PM

Electrification appears to be required for some good reasons.

The inability of Caltrain to run longer trains such as we see on the NEC has much to do with the need.

Short ( 6 car ) trains are the limit in the foreseeable future due to too many stations having grade crossings at both ends of the platforms.

Train density therefore needs closer spacing than can be done with diesels during rush hours.

In reference to above acceleration curves with EMUs will help train density and allows for another car instead of a locomotive.

Multi level EMUs will help somewhat.  Car specifications have not been issued yet stating total EMU height but some products in Europe are some what taller than Superliners.

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Posted by schlimm on Saturday, February 18, 2017 11:42 AM

blue streak 1

Electrification appears to be required for some good reasons.

The inability of Caltrain to run longer trains such as we see on the NEC has much to do with the need.

Short ( 6 car ) trains are the limit in the foreseeable future due to too many stations having grade crossings at both ends of the platforms.

Train density therefore needs closer spacing than can be done with diesels during rush hours.

In reference to above acceleration curves with EMUs will help train density and allows for another car instead of a locomotive.

Multi level EMUs will help somewhat.  Car specifications have not been issued yet stating total EMU height but some products in Europe are some what taller than Superliners.

 

Agreed, streak.

Longer commuter trains in Chicago suburbs block crossings, but only 2-3 minutes.

Electrification increases the capacity for passengers in rush hours and reduces total time of the run, endpoint to endpoint.

Environmental benefits are real, but not the primary reason.  The other poster's objections are not grounded empirically.

Not sure about double deck commuter trains in Europe as a whole; most in Germany seem similar in height to Bombardier Cal cars and are lok-hauled, not EMUs.

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, February 18, 2017 2:28 PM

Locomotive hauled and pushed, nearly all are push-pull with cab cars.

 

 

i believe there qare some double-deck MUs, though.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Saturday, February 18, 2017 9:05 PM

blue streak 1
Short ( 6 car ) trains are the limit in the foreseeable future due to too many stations having grade crossings at both ends of the platforms.

Why is that an issue? Many Metra stations have grade crossings that get occupied by stopped commuter trains. Sometimes when they use a center track (during track maintenance) they use the grade crossing as the platform and have to have the passengers all use one car for loading/unloading. 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, February 18, 2017 9:15 PM

Electroliner 1935
 
 
Short ( 6 car ) trains are the limit in the foreseeable future due to too many stations having grade crossings at both ends of the platforms.

 

Why is that an issue? Many Metra stations have grade crossings that get occupied by stopped commuter trains.

 
Guess you have not read the whole proposal.  Caltrain is going to all high level platforms to speed loading and unloading. Many short platform stations are already high level.  Another effort to speed trains.  If you can tell us how to make a high level platform and grade crossing co-exist please tell Caltrain.
 
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Posted by Buslist on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 11:50 AM

CMStPnP

Always wondereed why that segment was never electrified to begin with.

 

SP was always cash tight, why would they spend scarce $ on a money loosing operation? I suppose state and local $ might have been an option.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 9:28 PM

Buslist

 

 
CMStPnP

Always wondereed why that segment was never electrified to begin with.

 

 

 

SP was always cash tight, why would they spend scarce $ on a money loosing operation? I suppose state and local $ might have been an option.

 

SP had some electrified lines in the East Bay.

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Posted by erikem on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 11:13 PM

MidlandMike

 

 
Buslist

 

 
CMStPnP

Always wondereed why that segment was never electrified to begin with.

 

 

 

SP was always cash tight, why would they spend scarce $ on a money loosing operation? I suppose state and local $ might have been an option.

 

 

 

SP had some electrified lines in the East Bay.

 

The East Bay lines were more like a heavy duty interurban (a fair amount of street running) than a main line currently used by CalTrain. The SP main line through Bezerkely (I'm a Cal grad) was separate from the East Bay electrified lines.

One other reason for not electrifying is that it would most likely have resulted in higher property taxes.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, February 23, 2017 4:24 AM

If gradecrossings continue, they will have to stay with the short polatform limitation of train lengths.  but at least electric MUs will allow one passenger-carrying car to repalce the diesel locomotive.

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Posted by RME on Thursday, February 23, 2017 7:03 AM

daveklepper
If grade crossings continue, they will have to stay with the short platform limitation of train lengths.  but at least electric MUs will allow one passenger-carrying car to replace the diesel locomotive.

That, at least, is not a true concern here.  It doesn't matter if the diesel 'overhangs' the high-level platform or blocks a crossing while the train is stopped - paying passengers won't be getting on and off it, so there isn't any concern if its doors are off the ground...

The bilevel cars are the key to enhanced operation without extended platforms ... but how you build one of those as an MU car exclusively for high-platform use, under high-voltage catenary, with adequate California-level passenger space, ride comfort, and quick access all the way to seats at stops is an interesting design exercise, which perhaps shouldn't have to be made.

On the other hand, optimizing low platforms for effectively-zero walkover height to the bottom, or even 'possum-belly' level of a good contemporary bilevel isn't a particularly difficult exercise, even for California transit people...

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