Although a variety of options for traction voltage, both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) do exist, budgetary economic analysis shows that 25 kV AC will be the most cost effective standard system for the Peninsula Corridor as described below. Table E-2 presents cost comparisons for standard electrification systems for a typical 50 mile double track corridor.

Compared to the DC schemes, the 25-kV system will have a lower number of electric traction power supply substations along the route with a minimum number of connections to the utility network, the smallest overhead contact system conductor sizes and the use of well-proven standard electrical equipment. A 25-kV AC system will have the lowest initial costs and annual maintenance costs and will not cause electrolytic corrosion of underground utilities (e.g. pipes and steel pilings, etc). However, this system may cause electromagnetic interference in trackside signaling and communications circuits, and adjacent telephone circuits, which will require mitigation.In the case of this commuter corridor, with many existing fibre optic communication circuits, and a signalling system due for renewal anyway, the costs of mitigation are expected to be small compared to the overall cost of electrification.

With the level of service proposed for CalTrain, 25-kV substations would be typically spaced 15 to 30 miles apart depending upon the type of 25-kV system selected. This spacing allows for one substation to be out of set-vice between two operating substations with no impact on train operations. 'Me incoming primary power is readily obtained by taking supply from electric utilities at 34, 69 or I 15 kV 3 phase and by means of transformers producing 25-kV single phase in CalTrain's own substations, These substations would have all the various protection isolation and monitoring features typical in traction power supply substations. PG & E has indicated that a cursory review of the proposed traction power system discloses that power could probably be supplied to the proposed substations without major alteration to their existing facilities, except to construct an approximately one mile long transmission line as a feeder near Redwood City.


Table E-3 presents a summary of environmental changes related to conversion of CalTrain from a diesel powered commute service to an electrified service.

One of the most significant impacts resulting from electrification of CalTrain would be the overall improvement in regional air quality, by eliminating the fumes and smoke from diesel locomotives (particularly nitrogen oxides - NOx) and attracting patrons to the service, thereby decreasing auto trips. The most substantial improvement would be the I % decrease in regional NOx. Although seemingly small, this decrease is a significant air quality improvement because it results from the implementation of a single project. Air quality policies often stress the usefulness of many "one percent solutions' to attain air quality and replacing diesel locomotives with electrified rolling stock on CalTrain can effect just such an improvement. Locally, however, pollutant emissions around CalTrain stations would increase minimally as a result of more auto trips to station parking lots. Conversely, while autos will be forced to wait at grade crossings more often with the increase in the amount of trains operating, thus creating pollutant "hot spots', electrified trains with their faster acceleration will reduce the amount of time motorists are forced to wait while crossing gates are down compared to diesel powered trains.

Another significant impact is the reduction in noise from locomotives. The sound level of a diesel locomotive averages 87 dBA 100 feet from the locomotive versus 69 dBA for an electric locomotive. There will be some noise from substations - 40-50 dBA at 100 feet, but this can be mitigated by sound walls, or by placement of the substations in areas where there are no sensitive receptors.

An improvement in energy usage would result from electrifying CalTrain. Diesel locomotives are dependent entirely on fossil fuels. 'The operation of an electrified CalTrain will result in the conservation of between 550 and 1,318 million BTU of energy per day from #2 diesel oil. The significance of this savings lies in the fact that only a small amount of #2 diesel fuel can be refined from any given barrel of crude oil, a nonrenewable source, and ultimately limited in supply. In contrast, electricity for CalTrain can be obtained from hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal, and nuclear fission sources as will as fossil fuels, such as coal or heavier petroleum fuels. In addition, generation of electricity in a central location and distributed to users is considered a more efficient utilization of energy.

Electrification may have modest negative impacts also. The catenary system associated with an 25-kV electrification system may be perceived as resulting in visual clutter, depending on the complexity of the network of wiring needed for the overhead catenary system, and the obtrusiveness of the catenary support poles and the substations. It is difficult to mitigate for the visual effects created by these wires. One possibility is to place trees and other vegetation at the edge of the right-of-way to screen the catenary wires from view, but only if this could be accomplished without interfering with train operations and maintenance.

The use of aesthetically pleasing support poles could help minimize their visual obtrusiveness. Although the prime concern in designing poles is making them strong enough to support the catenary wiring, a variety of different types of poles have been used in rail systems.

The traction power substation would typically be of a size approximately 60 feet by 80 feet to 100 by 150 feet depending on the supply voltage from the utility and be surrounded by a wall or fence 9 feet high. Some substation hardware can be placed into steel or brick buildings to conceal it. Substations can be completely hidden behind walls and trees, if so required.

25-kV AC electrical systems generate electromagnetic fields in the vicinity of all equipment carrying an electric current. Electromagnetic fields create electrical interference in communication and railroad signal cables that run parallel. This phenomenon is commonly known by its acronym, EMT (electromagnetic interference). There is also concern with potential interference with the operation of private appliances, such as TVs and radios. Some public concern recently has been focused on the suspected public health effects of these electromagnetic fields.

The strength of an electromagnetic field diminishes rapidly with increasing distance from the 25-kV source be it catenary or substation. Therefore, the extent of effects mentioned in this section will depend mainly on the distance of the affected person or cable from the equipment generating the field, in other words, those people and utilities within the near vicinity of the rail system within the PCS right-of-way. It is @ possible that electromagnetic fields produced by an electrified rail system could affect electrical communications equipment outside the right-of-way. EMT can be mitigated by the shielding of cables or by other proven techniques.

During the construction of facilities for use in the electrical operation of CalTrain, construction would occur at various sites along the CalTrain corridor. The required construction will include building up to four electric substations, placement of support poles (60-70 per mile) and the wiring of 120 miles of catenary; construction should take approximately 2 years. However, it should be noted that the length of time of actual construction activities at any one location would be of a shorter duration.

During the construction period the following impacts may occur:

  • Air pollutants may be emitted by construction equipment (assumed to be diesel), causing short-term degradation of air quality; possible mitigation measures are the use of electric construction equipment where feasible.
  • Air-borne dust may be released at construction sites; dust could be minimized by frequent watering down exposed dirt or construction of temporary wind breaks.
  • Short-term noise impacts may occur in the vicinity of construction sites; noise impacts can be minimized by limiting the hours of construction activity so as to affect the least number of people.
  • Motor vehicle travel may be interrupted; this may be minimized by providing detours or publishing alternate travel routes in advance of construction beginning.


In comparing the maintenance requirements of diesel powered and electric powered systems, for the purposes of this study, only the items of locomotive/MPC and gallery servicing, and maintenance of the electrification system need to be considered for costing. Other railroad maintenance requirements, such as permanent way maintenance, and signal/communications system maintenance, would be the same for diesel or electric traction, and are not included in this section of the study.

Less maintenance is required on electrified motive power than on a diesel locomotive. This is because much of the equipment on an electric locomotive or MPC, such as the transformer, rectifiers, inverters, etc. are static components compared to the diesel engine/alternator combination, fuel and lube oil pumps, etc. on a diesel locomotive. FRA regulations do require, however, the same level of periodic inspection for either type of vehicle.

Other cocommuter rail systems have found electrified rolling stock to provide more reliable operation, with a higher availability compared to diesel locomotives, particularly because there are fewer components to malfunction and because they do not have to be removed from service for fueling or to add engine cooling water.

An electrification system, however, with its overhead catenary system, substations, and supervisory control system, does entail an additional maintenance item not found on a diesel system. On the other hand an electrified service will not require a facility for diesel fuel storage and pumping equipment, lube oil tanks and the special safety requirements attendant to such facilities.


Capital costs for each alternative were determined in a line item fashion. The unit cost, number of units and total cost for each cost item was determined. Engineering, design and contingency costs were also calculated by using a percentage of facility and equipment capital costs. Capital facilities and equipment needed for both dual mode and electric operations can be categorized as either vehicles, or alignment facilities.

An evaluation of capital costs for the two alternative electric modes indicates that electric locomotive capital costs are considerably less than EMT (using MPCS) costs. At a 66 train schedule, electric locomotive costs are approximately $53 million less. The cost difference is $89 million at the 114 train schedule and $62 million at the 158 train schedule. The cost difference at the 158 train schedule is less, for the EMT fleet requirement is assumed to be the same at both the 114 and 158 train schedules because equipment utilization is increased with the more frequent schedules, A comparison of EMT and electric locomotive capital cost projections is presented in Tables E-4 and E-5.

Operating and maintenance (O&M) costs were also determined in a line item fashion. The analysis of O&M costs is based on spreadsheet cost models which calculate staffing requirements, labor costs and non-labor costs for the projected quantity of service supplied (e.g., peak vehicles, revenue vehicle-miles) and the physical size of the system (e.g., route-miles, number of stations). Separate cost models were developed for diesel/dual mode and electric operations.

Cost estimates for the 66-train schedules (diesel operations only) are based on the cost model developed from the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board's (JPB) proposals for a 60-train schedule. Dual mode cost estimates are based on a modified version of this cost model. The introduction of electric operations is anticipated to increase costs in three cost categories: Maintenance of Rail Lines; Maintenance of Service Equipment, and Power Costs.

Annual O&M costs for electric operations were estimated by developing a second cost model. This model is also a variation of the diesel cost model built from the JPB cost proposals, with modifications to account for electric operations. It differs from the dual mode cost model in that there are no costs associated with diesel operations.

Table E-6 presents a comparison of O&M costs for the alternative modes,

While estimated capital costs and O&M costs have been identified, a complete comparison of diesel/dual mode and electric costs cannot be made until potential farebox revenue is considered.

Passenger revenue has been projected by applying an average fare/passenger to the ridership projections for each alternative train schedule. The current average fare collected per passenger is $1.56. For purposes of this analysis, it has been assumed that the average trip length will remain similar to today's average trip length, thus resulting in the current average fare per passenger.

Ridership under electric operations is anticipated to be slightly higher than ridership under diesel operations due to slightly improved travel times. When applied to the average fare per passenger, annual passenger revenue projections are as follows:





















It is important to note that the above revenue projections assume the same annual ridership for both electric operating scenarios (Gilroy versus Lick electrification).

The cost effectiveness of electric operations was measured by evaluating the net cost associated with each alternative train schedule and mode of operation. Annual operating costs were added to annualized capital costs to arrive at total annualized costs. Passenger revenue was then subtracted from the total cost to arrive at the net cost. This methodology is used by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as a measure of cost-effectiveness in Alternative Analyses and other planning reports. Because capital funding is more obtainable than operating subsidies, net costs were also calculated without annualized capital costs. Table E-7 presents the annualized net cost associated with each alternative.

Costs associated with the 66 train schedule under electrified operations are anticipated to be $13.6 to $14.4 million higher than costs associated with diesel operations, depending on the electrification scenario. The difference in costs for the 114 train schedule ranges from $1.6 to $2.3 million, depending on the electrification scenario. At the 158 train schedule, annualized costs for electric operations are $3.1 to $3.8 million less than costs for dual mode operations. A comparison of net costs for each train schedule and mode of operation is illustrated in Figure E-3. This figure illustrates two important findings: a) at the 114 train schedule, the net cost for all three operating scenarios is within $2.5 million); and b) total costs for track electrification to Lick is slightly less than total costs for electrification to Gilroy (approximately $750,000).

The cost effectiveness evaluation is significantly different when annualized capital costs are not included. At the 66 train level of service, diesel operations are $0.7 to $1.0 million more than costs for either electrification scenario. The cost savings at the 114 train level are $4.5 to $4.9 million, depending on the electrification scenario. The cost savings at the 158 train level are $9.0 to $9.4 million. Figure E-4 illustrates the cost savings obtained by electrification, should capital costs not be included as wi annualized cost. Over 80 percent of the O&M cost savings is in reduced power costs and maintenance of service equipment costs.

The most significant cost savings provided by electrification is in O&M costs. Over 80 percent of the O&M cost savings is in reduced power costs and maintenance of service equipment costs.

There are also environmental benefits associated with electrification. If these, benefits were financially quantified, electrification could be determined to be more cost-effective than dual mode costs at the a lower train service level, possibly with the 1 14 train schedule. At this level of analysis, however, it is not possible to quantify environmental benefits in monetary terms.


To summarize, the analysis provided in this report has evaluated the cost-effectiveness of electrified CalTrain service at three alternative levels of service and two alternative electrification scenarios (electrification to Gilroy versus the San Jose area. Key findings in this evaluation are as follows:


  • Electrification of CalTrain would be based on a 25 kV AC system with catenary, utilizing electric locomotives and the existing fleet of gallery cars (plus an expanded fleet of locomotive-hauled cars) the environmental benefits of an electrified CalTrain outweigh negative environmental impacts.
  • Capital and operating costs for EMT operations would be significantly higher than capital and operating costs for electric locomotive service, at all levels of service that were analyzed. Therefore, only costs for electric locomotives were compared to diesel/dual mode costs.
  • At all three train schedules, capital and O&M costs for electrifying the line to Lick in the San Jose area (with diesel locomotive service from Tamien to Gilroy) is anticipated to be slightly lower than costs for electrification of the entire line to Gilroy, judged strictly on economic terms (that is, without environmental benefits).
  • With the assumptions utilized in this report, when annualized capital costs are included in the calculations, electric service is anticipated to be more cost-effective than dual mode locomotive service somewhere between the 114 and the 158 train service level. At the 114 train schedule, however, the different-e in costs is less than $2.5 million. It is possible that electric locomotive service to Gilroy could also be more cost-effective than dual mode service at the 114 train schedule, once environmental benefits were financially quantified. The level of analysis provided in this study, however, does not allow for the financial quantification of these benefits.
  • If annualized capital costs are not included in the cost-effer-tiveness calculations, electric operation is more cost-effective than diesel operation at the 66 train level of service, with increasing operating cost savings as more trains are operated per day.



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