Caltrain Modernization

Caltrain is working on electrification of the Caltrain system. This will use electrically powered electric multiple units ( EMUs)  to replace the current diesel system. Electrification will allow faster acceleration, add about one trainset per hour, per direction, reduce travel time  and provide a quieter and cleaner system. The plan is to have the EMU's in operation by 2020. Decisions are being made now on the car design, bicycle capacity, station design for level boarding and numerous other issues related to implementing a new electrified train system.


2015                  Issue RFP for EMU cars in July, and award the EMU contract in the winter.
2016-2020        Design, Build and Test
2020                  EMU's in operation

Level Boarding

Currently to access Caltrain cars, passengers must use stairs to get from the platform into the train cars. Level boarding places the platform height at the same level as the car door so passengers can enter the cars with out steps. This is especially valuable to ADA passengers with mobility devices (wheelchairs), bikes on board passengers, people with strollers and people with luggage.

The new EMU cars will have a floor height of 25" inches, currently platforms have a height of 8" and will require a step to enter the car. Eventually the plan is to modify the stations to have a platform height of 25" to allow for level boarding.

One issue to be resolved is providing level boarding for both the Caltrain EMU cars with a floor height of 25" and the future high speed rail cars with a floor height of 50". The current most likely plan is to build the EMU's cars with two sets of doors, one set at 25" inches to use a 25" platform and another set at 50" for use when stations are modified to use the high speed rails cars. The doors at 25" inches would no longer be used. This plan is a concern as when boarding the EMU cars at the 50" floor level, passengers with bikes will need to use internal stairs to access the bike storage areas and ADA passengers would need to use interior lifts to travel down from the 50" to the ADA  area.

For details on level boarding see:

On Board Bicycle Capacity

Per the May 21 2015 presentation given by Caltrain staff to the Caltrain BAC, Caltrain staff will be recommending a  9:1 seat to bicycle capacity ratio. This works out to 11% of seated passengers will be able to bring a bike on board. This is the same 11% capacity as the current trains will have once all the Bombardier trains have a capacity of 72 bikes per train.

Caltrain/bicycle commuters are encouraging Caltrain to increase bike capacity on electrified trains by writing letters to the editor of local newspapers.


Bike San Mateo County: Our recommendations are still being worked on
Recomendations for Bicycle Usage with Electrified Caltrain      Prepared by the BIKESONboard project team

Web Links