Electrification of Caltrain

Electrification of Caltrain Introduction

The CalMod is a $1.9 billion project that will modify the train system, and electrify the main line of the U.S. commuter railroad Caltrain, which serves cities in the San Francisco Peninsula and Silicon Valley, a ,major part of the project is the transition from its current diesel-electric locomotive powered trains to electric multiple units (EMU). According to Caltrain, electrification of the tracks will allow it to improve service times via faster acceleration and shorter headways, reduce air pollution and noise, and facilitate a future railway tunnel into downtown San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center.



OCS Team

The Project is  51 miles, running through approximately 24 counties, over 37 over head crossings  with 2451 poles , and foundations and over 150 brackets, attachments, and assemblies, with approximately 2,000,000 (ft) of wire, the enormity of the project made every small engineering adjustment problematic to the completion of the project, changes were hard to track, and  the  change  required changes to multiple documents to keep the engineering documents consistent.        I was tasked to help with the engineering documentation, my primary task was to improve the  accuracy the OCS data based that tracked the installment of bracket, assemblies and pole attachments, this data base was the single input for multiple tracking spread sheets that allowed the OCS Team to plan construction activities.  Many of the pole positions within the data base had pole attachments that were left from previous engineering designs, and had attachments to the pole installed in the field but  not recorded in the data base.. To  add to the  data based many problems the pole attachment naming system used a convoluted system, which made the system difficult to use, and manage.  I developed an excel base naming system that helped improve communication, and accuracy of the data base. (Below is an example of an standardize excel based naming system I developed)

I utilized filed reports of the installments, and as many documents at my disposal to update the data base weekly, but sometimes the field reports were missing major components, the pictures attached to the document did not capture a component of the installment, or the installments were attached wrongly, to the pole.  My objective was to describe the conditions in the field and report them within the OCS data based so the current conditions could be corrected as soon as possible to reduce cost.   Late in December 2020 , I took the lead to organized a walkout  for the field engineers to go through two section of the project and record the pole attachments, wiring and adherence to the design  for over 700 pole position. I compiled the designs into a file, and the OCS team came up with  a solution that enable them to load the designs on to a tablet.  This improved the quality, and the organization of describing the condition in the field more accurately.

I maintained and tracked the financial records of the OCS’s constructions crews cost for day-to-day operation. I compiled the personnel needed for that days construction activity and their accumulated hourly rate, along with the major equipment, train delays that caused construction crew’s to suspend work, and the total cost for the year broken into financial quarters and finally communicated to the data project manager.


To add to the complexity of the project and the constructions crews safety, the project operated in an active track environment, because of this heighten risk element to the project there were many mitigation procedures implemented.  Engineers had to request access to a portion of the track to be secured, that the planned construction activity was to be operated on, three days in advance.  There are rail workers dedicated to construction crews safety, that a work with the rail lines command and control of operations, that were on site and made the construction crews aware of any safety concerns.  There are  random visit from the Federal Railroad Administration with the authority to render a personal fine to any crew member that is not following code, to name of few of the safety procedures implemented.  Activates of the operating rail line required an situation where adjacent track to the requested secured track become open to rail activity this circumstance was consider a heighten risk to safety of the construction crew and it was decided that the construction crew stop all construction activity, and wait for passing train/s before construction could resume.  Though this circumstance had the potential to cause major delays to the schedule, and cause problems with construction of the project, these delays were to be captured in daily construction field reports, and compiled in a document that compiled, and communicated the delays, for all the construction crews that went out throughout the year.

I improved or assisted with many of the documentation in the OCS team , and my help is not limited to the above.   I also helped with the calculation of the contact and messenger wire relationship which is critical to the operation of the pantograph, the single point of contact of the electric train to its power. I evaluated the overhead head crossings heights and the necessity of a surge arrestor in accordance with RFI 651.  I also quantized  the amount of shunts throughout the system and communicated an accurate summation to my supervisor. I helped documentation to determine the locations of newly purchase poles in the layout yards located through out the rail system.