A white electric train with bright red accents sits still on the tracks with hazy skies overhead.

Caltrain Modernization Program

For more than 150 years, residents and visitors in California’s Bay Area have used passenger rail to travel between San Francisco and San Jose. In a region that has become the epicenter of modern technology and innovation, the Caltrain system now handles 20,000 daily riders along a 51.4-mile route with 32 stations. But after years of substantial growth, ridership demand has outgrown system capacity. As owner/operator of Caltrain, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board is implementing a $2.72 billion modernization program. When complete, the investment will electrify the system and upgrade the performance, operating efficiency, capacity, safety, and reliability of commuter rail service.

Key to the initiative is the Peninsula Corridor electrification project for which Gannett Fleming is serving as the owner’s representative. The project will transform the system from a diesel-locomotive service to an electrified system equipped with high-performance multiple-unit electric trains powered by overhead catenary. The electric trains will enhance capacity and allow the system to deliver cleaner, quieter, shorter trip times, and more frequent service. Long term, electrification will be compatible with California’s planned high-speed rail system, which will provide a one-seat ride from downtown San Francisco to Los Angeles.

What We Did

Gannett Fleming is providing electrification program management services for the new electrification system on roughly 51 miles of Caltrain right-of-way. Caltrain presently operates diesel push/pull service on this route and will convert to two 25 kilovolt 60 hertz electrification systems to operate its service. Significant modifications also will be made to the signal and positive train control systems, SCADA systems, highway grade crossing systems, communications systems, and the back office and dispatching systems.

Our work includes performing the overall electrification program management services; designing bridging documents for design-build; advising on alternative delivery construction alternatives; providing risk management advice to the project owner; performing systems integration; coordinating with utilities and host railroads (UPRR), and construction management services. Our tasks also range from overhead catenary system and traction power substation design to tunnel modifications and a right of way survey.

Key Features

  • Modifications to a Communications Based Overlay Signal System Positive Train Control, an advanced signal system that includes federally mandated safety improvements.
  • Replacement of Caltrain’s diesel trains with high-performance EMUs, which will allow Caltrain to provide shorter trips and/or more stops in the same amount of time.
  • Coordination with two major traction power substations and seven autotransformer substations.
  • Modifications to 55 highway grade crossings.


  • By 2040, this project is expected to:
    • Reduce greenhouse gases by 176,000 metric tons of C02 annually.
    • Reduce daily traffic congestion by 619,000 vehicle miles.
    • Reduce engine noise from the trains, as noise from electrified train engines are measurable less than diesel train engines.
    • Help meet California’s emission reduction goals.
  • Improve train performance, provide faster service, and reduce noise.
  • Improve regional air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Set the stage for the integration of high-speed rail service.


Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain)


San Francisco to San Jose, Calif.


Program Management, Technical Advisory Services, Design, Construction Oversight
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