Caltrain Grapples With Aging Fleet

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    NEWSLETTERS

    More than a dozen riders told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday morning that they are happy with their Caltrain rides, despite a report saying the aging fleet is bombarded with maintenance problems and delays. Marla Tellez reports. (Published Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013)

    More than a dozen riders told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday morning that they are happy with their Caltrain rides, despite a report saying the aging fleet is bombarded with maintenance problems and delays.

    “I just take it with a grain of salt,” Ben Sandholm said, referring to some of the problems he’s experienced over time.

    His comment is a stark contrast to a San Francisco Examiner article published this week manyy commuters say mechanical delays are becoming intolerable. A fully upgraded upgraded electric train fleet isn’t expected to be ready until 2019.

    The Examiner documented problems just this week when a speedometer failed on a northbound train, delaying northbound trains by up to 20 minutes, and brake problems on another train, followed by a person on the tracks at San Francisco's Bayshore station, compounded delays of more than an hour.

    "We want to apologize to our riders,"  Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn told the Exmainer. "We understand how frustrating it is to have these kind of delays when you're just trying to get to work."
    Dunn said Caltrain has an aging fleet, with 20 of the system's 29 diesel locomotives chugging past their 25th birthdays in recent years.

    Data provided by Caltrain show the system rarely meets the goal of 95 percent of trains leaving within five minutes of their scheduled time. Trains do usually leave within 10 minutes, with some exceptions — like in October, when about 83 percent were within 5 minutes and 91 percent were within 10 minutes.
    With plans to upgrade to a fully electric fleet by 2019, Dunn said it doesn't make financial sense to upgrade any of the aging locomotives now.