Source: Caltrain (Press Release)
Wheelchair lift won’t retract. Signal is displaying red. Engine won’t start. Trespasser steps in path of train. No matter what the reason it has the same result: delayed trains, resulting, more importantly, in delayed customers. And Caltrain has had more than its fair share lately and it apologizes for any inconvenience its customers have experienced.
You might say, “But I was three trains behind the one that wouldn’t start” or “I was traveling in the opposite direction; what gives?” That illustrates how orchestrated and tightly connected the Caltrain service is. One train incident can cause a domino effect. If the delayed train can’t get out of the way of other trains, they too will be delayed. Also, if the train can’t get to its destination on time and “flip” to head in the opposite direction, those customers also will be late. The 90 weekday trains are operated with only 20 train sets. That means that one train sets plays an integral role in moving Caltrain’s customers.
While Caltrain has implemented a number of contingencies, such as a stand-by set of equipment and crossovers to bypass breakdowns, customers still feel the impact when the problems are bigger than the contingencies.
Caltrain staff has been conducting an evaluation of both the locomotive and passenger car fleet to identify areas of maintenance that should be enhanced to not only provide increased reliability but to provide the ride quality and comfort level the passenger expects. Caltrain staff also is working diligently with its contract operator, Amtrak, to reduce delays and refocus on preventative maintenance.
When there is a major service disruption, Caltrain’s goal is to get service restored as quickly as possible. That may entail having one train pass, or “overtake”, another train so that it can get to its destination and cover service in the other direction. It never feels good to be at a station waiting for a train, feel relieved when you see the approaching headlight, then super frustrated as the trains speeds through the station. While it’s the best way to get service back on track, it’s a disservice to Caltrain’s customers to not let them know what’s going on. To rectify that, Caltrain is committed to improving its communication with customers.
During delays, announcements will be made every 10 minutes onboard trains and at stations. The station announcements will include both public address messages as well as visual messages, if the infrastructure is in place. By mid next year, Caltrain will be offering real-time information on train status.
Caltrain will continue to work diligently on meeting your expectations for on-time service.
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