New California Charger Clean Diesel-Electric Locomotives Debut

Last week, the State unveiled the its newest locomotives built by Siemens in California, for California. The Siemens Charger Clean Diesel-Electric Locomotives were built in in the Sacramento region and will be hitting the tracks in the coming days.

Photo Apr 18, 2 09 32 PM

These new locomotives are the first passenger locomotives to receive Tier IV emissions certification from the Federal Rail Administration utilizing green technology to meet the federal standards. These new locomotives will be able to reach speeds of 125 mph and are over 70% more emission-friendly than the locomotives they will replace.

“This is a great California story. We’re going to be moving people throughout the state of California in a much cleaner way and that’s an important part of all of our transportation investments,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly. “I couldn’t be more proud to say that this locomotive is both built and delivered here in California.”

The Charger locomotives will initially be used on two Northern California Amtrak routes: the Capitol Corridor and the San Joaquin. As more get delivered, they will also be utilized on the Pacific Surfliner route. The new locomotives also utilize state-of-the-art crash energy management features and are equipped with positive train control technology to further enhance safety.

“These Chargers will help provide California’s passenger rail services with a fleet of locomotives that meet very stringent emission standards,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Not only will they make for a more sustainable transportation system, but are also expected to improve reliability and help efforts to double current statewide ridership of 5.4 million passengers by 2040.”

The first set, six in all for Northern California, are part of a larger, multi-state procurement. Siemens is building the Charger locomotives out of its nearly 1,000-person rail manufacturing hub in Sacramento, California for transportation agencies in California (Caltrans), Illinois (IDOT), Washington (WSDOT) and Maryland (MTA). Additional states served by the procurement are Oregon, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan and Iowa.

According to Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) Managing Director, David Kutrosky, “These diesel-electric locomotives will result in a better overall experience for our passengers. They are cleaner and quieter, and offer a smoother ride. We’re excited to debut these Sacramento-built Tier 4 engines on the Capitol Corridor.”

Soon, riders on the Capitol Corridor line can jump on a train powered by one of these cleaner locomotives and enjoy the ride. For more information about the Capitol Corridor:


CA High Speed Rail recognized by US Departments of Treasury and Transportation for Transformative Impact

Two recent reports from the federal government highlighted California High Speed Rail’s (HSR) economic impact. The US Department of Transportation recognized the impact that federal dollars have had on CA High Speed Rail in its final report on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The report, Shovel Worthy: What the Recovery Act Taught Us About Investing in Our Nation’s Infrastructure, showed how the Central Valley region is seeing the early benefits of the progress being made on the nation’s first high-speed rail system through job creation and business participation both large and small.

The Recovery Act provided funding for the preliminary engineering and environmental clearance for the corridor. It also provided funding for the final design and construction of the 119-mile-long Central Valley construction package that US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx toured last year. This investment in the Central Valley has led to an economic turnaround in the region. The ARRA report focuses on the economic benefits that the City of Fresno has received from Recovery Act funds. Through strategic investments, including high-speed rail construction, Fresno’s unemployment rate went from 18 percent in 2011 to 9.3 percent in 2016.

The report also highlighted the work that HSRA is doing with Small and Disadvantaged Business participation in the construction of the project. Two small businesses were highlighted in the report, Outback Materials and Valverde Construction. Valverde Construction is a certified Hispanic Owned Small Business that is has a contract for utility relocation. Valverde expanded their business through the contract, opening an office in Fresno and hiring additional workers.

Outback Materials is a certified small business based in Fresno that provides concrete for construction in the region. Outback Materials invested $3 million to build a state-of-the art plant in Fresno and hired 25 new employees. Hear owner Curtis Lovett describe how Outback Materials has benefited and expanded as a result of work for high-speed rail:

The other report, commissioned by the US Department of the Treasury on behalf of the Build America Investment Initiative, identified 40 proposed transportation and water infrastructure projects of major economic significance that face challenges to their completion. The aim was to show the public the economic benefits of completing these projects.

According to the study, HSR ranked third in net economic benefit and cost ratio and would have projected net economic benefit of $130-260 billion. Project benefits included:

  • Travel time, reliability, travel cost and productivity benefits for users transferring from auto to HSR.
  • Travel time, reliability, safety and emission benefits for highway users traveling in less congested conditions due to mode shift from auto to HSR.
  • Passenger delay, operating cost and emission savings in the aviation sector due to mode shift from air to HSR.

With more than 119-miles of active construction in the Central Valley, construction of a high-speed rail line between the Silicon Valley and Central Valley is planned to be complete by 2024, with passenger service beginning in 2025. More on the project:

Capitol Corridor Celebrates 25 Years of Service

On Tuesday, Secretary Kelly joined the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) to celebrate 25 years of service from Sacramento to San Jose. In 1990, voters recognized the need to fund passenger train service between the Bay Area and Sacramento and, through Prop 108 and Prop 111, supported bond measures to help fund the Capitol Corridor.

Service started in 1991 with just six trains making three round trips daily, at that point annual ridership was 238,000. For Valley locals and Bay Area denizens alike, the amenities of passenger rail did not go unnoticed. In 1991, a review in the Lodi News-Sentinel noted that the train had an observation platform, spacious cars with high-backed reclining seats, and a snack-bar car.

inagtrainPhoto Courtesy of CCJPA

In 1996, SB 457, the Intercity Passenger Rail Act authored by State Senator David Kelley created the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Board, comprised of six local transportation agencies along the route. The CCJPA was tasked with running the train service and increasing ridership. Today, the Board also includes two metropolitan planning organizations, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

Over the past 25 years, the Capitol Corridor trains have continued to increase service from three to fifteen weekday round trips and provide important direct connections with 10 local public transit systems and five passenger rail systems. Perhaps as a nod to California’s innovation centers, the Capitol Corridor was the first in the nation to test and develop Amtrak’s mobile ticketing systems and among the first to add in-train Wi-Fi.

2016 was a record-setting year for the CCJPA with ridership and revenue up significantly. The Capitol Corridor is the second highest ridership corridor on the Amtrak system, outside of the Northeast Corridor, carrying a record 1,560,000 riders last year.

Intercity rail continues to play a pivotal role in our transportation landscape. At CalSTA, we’ve recognized the great success of the Capitol Corridor route and have continued to work with the CCJPA to make service more efficient, reliable, and accessible. In 2015, CalSTA invested Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) funding in a $15 million effort to reduce travel times by 10 minutes between Sacramento and San Jose, benefiting not just the Capitol Corridor, but also ACE and San Joaquin rail services.

In August, CalSTA announced an additional award of TIRCP funding as part of a $70 million program to increase rail service to Roseville, and to develop a service optimization plan to increase ridership through improved reliability, better schedules and service integration, and more efficient service delivery. The funding will conduct track and facility improvements for 3 peak period Amtrak trains in each direction per day between Sacramento and Roseville. The additional service will not only benefit commuters to Sacramento, but those traveling to Davis, Solano County and all the way into the Bay Area.

We look forward to celebrating another 25 years of success with the CCJPA!

For more information on the Capitol Corridor, click here.

New Sustainable Transportation System Envisioned

For generations, people have come to California to live and work in one of the most vibrant and diverse places on Earth.  Our transportation system supports our quality of life by providing residents access to opportunities and delivers goods to market.  However, the livability and economy of California faces new challenges in the era of climate change — and the transportation system must do our part to reduce these threats to our environment and health.  Per the requirements of Senate Bill 391 (2009), this is the first California Transportation Plan (CTP) published that provides a pathway for our sector to help meet our State climate goals.  Fortunately, climate goals can be achieved while providing Californians with what they most seek from the transportation system—quality mobility choices to reliably get them to their destinations.

With approved Sustainable Communities Strategies, our regional partners are already leading the way towards transportation and land use patterns that will provide cost-effective transportation solutions and also improve livability in our communities.  Such regional plans value efficient land use by locating more housing closer to job centers and recognize consumer demand by proposing to invest in multiple modes.  This CTP 2040 builds upon these regional efforts and articulates how the State will reinforce them and take further state-level action to build a more sustainable future.  The CTP 2040 has six overarching goals:

  • Improve Multimodal Mobility and Accessibility for All People
  • Preserve the Multimodal Transportation System
  • Support a Vibrant Economy
  • Improve Public Safety and Security
  • Foster Livable and Healthy Communities and Promote Social Equity
  • Practice Environmental Stewardship

Each goal has a series of related implementation strategies to reach the goals over the next twenty-five years. By 2040, California will have completed an integrated rail system linking every major region in the State, with seamless one-ticket transfers to local transit.  Responding to the desires of millennials and aging baby-boomers alike, we will further invest in complete, safe pedestrian and bicycle networks.  Through the CTP 2040, we reiterate a “fix-it first” approach that will improve operations and lower maintenance costs for our highways, roads, and bridges.  In partnership with sister agencies, we are advancing a California Sustainable Freight Action Plan to support the freight economy and meet greenhouse gas reduction goals.  We will continue to support the deployment of zero-emission vehicles and other technology innovations.

Achieving the goals of the CTP 2040 will take significant effort and deep partnerships with regional, local and tribal governments. However, the plan and associated modeling demonstrates California can achieve a low carbon transportation system that meets State policy objectives of livable communities, economic growth and emission reductions.   We encourage all our partners to review the plan, and find opportunities to align their own actions to support a sustainable transportation system.

The CTP 2040 is available at

District HQ
Wes Lum with his fold-up bicycle. Showing how fold-up bikes are used during mass transit.

Unveiling Metrolink’s Tier 4 Locomotives

On July 18th, Metrolink unveiled its new Tier 4 locomotive at Los Angeles’ Union Station. The state-of-the-art locomotives will reduce particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 85 percent.  In addition to the environmental benefits, the new Tier 4 locomotives will also move passengers more quickly and reliably.

Metrolink is the first commuter rail agency nationwide to purchase the Tier 4 locomotives.  More than $110 million in funding for the project was provided by various state partners including CalSTA through the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) and the California High-Speed Rail Authority through Rail Connectivity funding.


Caltrans Orders 14 New Diesel-Electric Locomotives for Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Route

Siemens-Built Locomotives Will Be Manufactured in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO—In an effort to provide cleaner and faster travel for Pacific Surfliner rail passengers, Caltrans will be purchasing an additional 14 high-performance, diesel-electric locomotives from Siemens, with deliveries beginning in late 2018. This purchase adds to the original 2014 order for six locomotives from Siemens that will be delivered in 2016.

“With these new state-of-the art, energy-efficient Charger locomotives, California can continue its goal to offer more alternative and sustainable transportation choices,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Not only will these new locomotives promote increased passenger rail ridership, but they will have environmental benefits by reducing the amount of automobile traffic.”

The next-generation Charger locomotives will be powered by a 4,400 horsepower-rated diesel engine that complies with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s strict, Tier 4 emissions standards, which reduces emissions by approximately 85 percent compared with most existing locomotives in Pacific Surfliner service. The locomotives will also meet performance requirements for diesel-electric passenger locomotives set by the Next-Generation Equipment Committee, a coalition of government and industry experts promoting safe and efficient passenger rail in the United States.

The states of California, Illinois, Washington and Maryland have cumulatively placed orders totaling 69 Charger locomotives, and the production of these locomotives will support hundreds of skilled and high-wage manufacturing jobs in California. Each locomotive will be built at the Siemens rail manufacturing facility in Sacramento, and are the first Tier 4 locomotives to be built in the United States. The plant, which has been in operation for nearly 30 years, currently employs 850 workers and is powered primarily by solar energy. Through this contract, Siemens will continue to grow its already comprehensive and diverse base of U.S. rail suppliers – including many California businesses – that will be leveraged as part of the development of the Charger locomotives.

“The partnership between Caltrans and Siemens will generate new California manufacturing jobs and help the state meet our goal of reducing emissions through the use of innovative new technology,” said Panorea Avdis, Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. “Products made in California are changing the future of goods movement while improving our environment and companies like Siemens are contributing to California’s continued growth in manufacturing jobs.”

“I am very happy to see newer, cleaner, and faster locomotives being put onto our rails in order to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Passenger Rail. “More and more people are going to forego their cars to take the train when they realize that taking the train is faster than driving and provides a stress-free commute that allows them to be more productive, or even just relax and have a cup of coffee and read the newspaper.”

Caltrans funds three of the busiest intercity rail routes in the nation: the Pacific Surfliner, which operates between San Luis Obispo and San Diego (3rd busiest in the nation); the Capitol Corridor service, extending from Auburn to San Jose (ranked 4th); and the San Joaquin, operating between Oakland/Sacramento and Bakersfield (ranked 6th). Combined, the routes provide rail services to more than 5.4 million passengers statewide per year. Additionally, Caltrans owns 119 rail vehicles in California.

“We applaud Caltrans’ commitment to modern, efficient and clean public transportation and are grateful for their continued trust and confidence in our ability to serve as their technology partner,”” said Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Rolling Stock for North America. “These new, diesel-electric passenger rail locomotives will be built in America using renewable energy and will provide more efficient, reliable and faster transportation options for Californians.”

Caltrans purchased the 14 locomotives and related spare parts for $101.9 million as an option, funded entirely through Proposition 1B, the 2006 voter-approved infrastructure bond. These 14 locomotives are expected to be delivered and put into service between July 2018 and Feb. 2019.

The purchase of these new locomotives fits within the goals laid out by Governor Brown in his 2014 Five-Year Infrastructure Plan. Caltrans continues to improve the mobility and sustainability of California’s transportation system by doing its part to foster the state’s long-term economic growth.

For more information on Caltrans’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, read the 2013 Caltrans Activities to Address Climate Change report here.

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