A Train Performance Simulation (TPS) program was used to simulate the operation of CalTrain in the diesel mode and the electric mode, with electric locomotives and with EMU cars. The existing EMD F40PH diesel locomotive with 3, 6, and 10 car trains was compared with the EMD AEM-7 electric locomotive with the same size trains, and with Metro North M-2/M-4 EMU cars. The trains were simulated with existing Southern Pacific Transportation Company timetable speed limits and restrictions, except that the maximum speed limit used was 79 MPH instead of the current 70, and the current 45 MPH speed restriction within the limits of Redwood City was eliminated. Only operation between the San Francisco 4th & Townsend Street terminal and the San Jose Cahill Station was simulated.

Figure E-2 provides a running time comparison for the proposed CalTrain service, using the simulated diesel case, the simulated electric case with an electric locomotive, and EMU cars.

Because of the performance of electrified equipment compared to diesel trains and the close spacing of stations on the Peninsula with 26 stations within the 46.9 miles between San Francisco and San Jose, the electrified CalTrain with three cars saved about 7 minutes in running time compared to the diesel ease, around 9 minutes with 6 cars, and around 12 minutes with 10 cars. EMU cars compared to the diesel case saved about 5 minutes with 3 cars, 13 minutes with 6 cars, and 23 minutes with 10 cars.

The simulations showed that electric powered locomotive and EMU vehicles both offer a travel time savings over the present diesel operation for both local and express services. The simulations also showed that for electric locomotive hauled trains the amount of improvement over current running times is dependent primarily on the length of the train, with longer trains benefiting more from the improved acceleration characteristics of electric power.


It should be noted that estimation of rail ridership, for either diesel or electrified service, is a complex process. There are a number of factors that contribute to the decision to use the Peninsula Commute Service (PCS), Paramount among these is train running time, Other factors include:

a)The number of PCS trains operated in peak and off-peak periods;

b)PCS train headways at each station served;

c)Typical origin station wait times for PCS patrons;

d)PCS station access times;

e)Times required to reach each destination zone after the PCS train arrives at the destination station;

f)PCS transit fares;

g)Connecting feeder bus and/or MUNI Metro services;

h)Competing BART and express bus services; and

i)Traffic conditions on parallel highway routes.

Electrification of the Peninsula Commute Service trains would result in significant travel time savings for most major station-to-station pairs. The magnitude of time savings depends on the length of the trip, the number of station stops made, and the type of electric power source used. The decrease in travel times would be perceived as a benefit and attract new riders to the PCS service. Based on the decreases in travel times, new ridership estimates were projected for the PCS service with either the electric locomotive or EMU power source.

These travel time benefits would result in increased CalTrain ridership amounting to, depending on whether the electric locomotive or EMU power source is used, 1,800 to 5,000 trips per day for the 66-train schedule; 2,900 to 8,500 trips per day for the 114-train schedule; and, 6,300 to 13,500 trips per day for the 158-train schedule. Ridership forecasts are shown in Table E-1.


There am two possible types of electrified motive power: the electric locomotive and the electric multiple unit (EMU). Electric locomotives propel trains of non-powered trailer cars. On the other hand EMU's are self-propelled passenger power cars designed to operate alone or coupled in trains in any multiples up to ten or twelve cars.

In selecting suitable motive power for an electric CalTrain service, the prime concern operationally is to be able to match service needs with a minimum call to reconfigure trains on a short term (e.g., daily) basis, Today's schedule has 3, 4, 5, and 6 bi-level gallery car consists operating on a strict basis; trains are made up to suit a specific train duty and substitutions are not easy to arrange. One solution is to consider the adoption of a train formation utilizing new power cars hauling the existing trailer (non powered) cars, If one power car could haul a trailer car or a cab control car, 2, 4, 6, 8 and possibly 10 car trains could be programmed. Such an approach appears attractive operationally as it will provide for flexible train formations, ease of maintenance and comparable capital cost. This concept is known as electric motor trailer (EMT) combinations.

EMTs would consist of a motor power car (MPC) pulling an existing CalTrain gallery car. Each MPC would have all the same controls as the cab control car. In addition, it would be equipped with a roof-mounted pantograph for collecting electric power from the overhead catenary system. The lower level passenger compartment would be reduced in size to provide space for the required traction power equipment and other auxiliary apparatus. MPCS, however, are not currently used in the United States.

With locomotives, the simplest solution is direct replacement of all diesel locomotives with electric locomotives, using standard production off-the-shelf models, such as the 6000 hp AEM-7 or ALP-44, which are used in commuter service by New Jersey Transit, SEPTA in Philadelphia, and MARC in Maryland.

Motive power is only one aspect of the overall study of electrifying the CalTrain service, albeit an important one. From that perspective, some important conclusions can be drawn.

Electricmotive power is superior to diesel power in the following ways:

1. For a vehicle with comparable horsepower, the electric vehicle has greater acceleration capabilities because it can draw on a nearly unlimited source of power from the traction power supply system on a short time basis, while a diesel vehicle is limited to the power which can be produced by the diesel engine and generator on board the vehicle, This results in the electrically powered train having a shorter over-the-road running time.

2. The cost of energy to operate the electrically powered train is considerably less than the cost of fuel oil for a diesel powered train. In addition, the diesel locomotive requires a large sump of lubricating oil and a large supply of treated cooling water for the diesel engine.

3. The diesel locomotives require a refuelling facility. Refuelling is an extra operation to be completed each day.

4. The diesel locomotive with its engine, assorted pumps, and radiators is a much more complicated machine to maintain than an electric locomotive or EMU car, which contains mostly static type equipment with some blowers for cooling. Diesel locomotives in passenger service require a major overhaul about every ten years, whereas electrically powered rolling stock requires much less maintenance over its life. Diesel locomotives in passenger service have a life expectancy of 25 years versus 35 years for electric locomotives.

5. Environmentally the electrically powered train is superior to the diesel powered train for the following reasons;

  • No pollution since there is no fuel burned on board the train.
  • Less noise, since the diesel engine which must operate at full throttle position (approximately 1000 rpm) on the road to generate head end power is replaced by mostly static components with some motor-driven blowers.
  • The leaking of diesel fuel/lubricating oil along the railroad right-of-way is eliminated.

6. The existing fleet of CalTrain gallery cars can continue to be used either by directly eplacing the diesel locomotives with electric locomotives, or by replacing the locomotives and expanding the capacity of the fleet at the same time by procuring new California Car cab control cars built as electric power cars.

In comparing locomotives and EMU cars, EMUs can provide more flexibility of Variations, in that they can more easily be made up into trains of varying size, including operation as single-car trains for off-peak hours, However, each EMU must be maintained as frequently as a locomotive under current federal regulations. The increased flexibility of operations may be offset by the increased maintenance cost of an EMU fleet.

Replacement of the existing fleet of gallery cars with brand new EMU cars is probably not practical, considering the economic implications of the manner in which the existing fleet was purchased and then resold by Caltrans under Safe Harbor Leasing. In addition, maintenance of a fleet of EMU cars could be more costly than maintaining a fleet of no more than one half powered vehicles and the rest trailer cars.

The estimated cost of an electric locomotive is approximately $4.5 million versus $3.5 million for a California Car manufactured as an MPC; nearly twice as many MPCs would be required compared to electric locomotives for the 158 train scenario, because an MPC would have the performance capability of handling only one gallery car. Considering the difference in capital costs and maintenance costs for the entire fleet, it is recommended that the motive power for an electrified CalTrain be electric locomotives.


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