News

Two-train breakdown causes hour-long delays

A failure of two southbound commuter trains this morning is causing system-wide delays

A duoble breakdown of southbound Caltrain commute trains this morning has caused an hour-long delay throughout the commute system.

The first train failed at 5:48 a.m. in Belmont and a second train was taken out of service to move it off the southbound tracks.

Then at 7:50 a.m. a second train broke down at San Mateo but the crew was able to restart it, according to Caltrain spokesperson Christine Dunn.

Dunn said the delays should last throughout the morning commute period.

An initial report was that three trains had broken down because of the second train being removed from service.

Dunn said the problems began at 5:48 a.m. when train #102 broke down at the Belmont station, and passengers were transferred to train #104.

Then at 7:15 a.m. train #206 was taken out of service at the San Carlos station so it could move train #102 out of the way, and passengers had to board trains #208 and #210.

Then at about 7:50 a.m. train #314 broke down at the San Mateo station, adding to the train tangle. But the crew was able to get it restarted and it left the station under its own power about 8:27 a.m., Dunn said.

-- Palo Alto Online staff

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by how old are these trains?
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2010 at 10:09 am

Silicon Valley is supposed to be leading the country into the 21st century, but our primary public transit system has seen little improvement in the last 50 years. Thousands of people rely on Caltrain every day and if they were forced to drive instead, our freeways would be clogged into uselessness. Why can't we devote more money to making Caltrain efficient and reliable?


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Posted by Lilian
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 29, 2010 at 10:31 am

So glad to finally see a breaking news article about a train and have it not be a suicide.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2010 at 10:40 am

The trains are old because we have improperly prioritized our transportation funding dollars. I love Caltrain and would love to see more funding and promotion of mass transit, and less funding/promo of cars.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2010 at 11:06 am

This service has proved unreliable yet again. One train breaking down causes a system wide delay because there are no alternate tracks for subsequent trains to take. Improving the service means that at various points along the line a break down should be towed, shunted or whatever to the nearest point to enable other trains to move.

The reliability of the service is crucial for a public transit option, not only for commuters, but for those connecting to planes or those with crucial meetings and jurors, trial witnesses, hospital surgeries, etc.

The other disappointment in this is that the media failed to report on this until past 8.00 am and passengers did not know to make alternate arrangements until they had arrived on the station platforms. Getting word of delays must be paramount in getting commuters to where they need to go. If the media can report on accidents on highways and bridges within minutes, then they should also be able to give accurate delay information on Caltrain also. I imagine this to be Caltrain's fault as Bart seems to get information to the media very quickly.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2010 at 11:07 am

Can any regular Caltrain riders let us know if they get information from Twitter or similar texting service from Caltrain?


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Posted by twitter
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2010 at 11:26 am

Unofficial Caltrain delays twitter feed: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 29, 2010 at 11:46 am

And, of course, if we had high speed rail trains all these local commute issues/problems would be solved...


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Posted by train rider
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Part of the HSR project will modernize the Caltrain system, improving safety, reliability, and efficiency. The NIMBYs that are stalling HSR are hurting a lot of people.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 29, 2010 at 1:26 pm

@ train-rider

No, think again! HSR will simply add more problems onto the heap of issues that already exist with our train system plus bankrupt this state even further! It will not only affect train riders and certainly not positively! Perhaps you have no kids needing an education, have no health issues at present, feel community workers can be further cut, and, well, need I go on with the list of further financial problems that HSR will bring to people statewide? HSR will affect everyone negatively! The present train system and the condition of the present trains does not!!!
Please think this through for others' sake!


Like this comment
Posted by another train rider
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2010 at 1:40 pm

> I love Caltrain and would love to see more funding and promotion of mass transit, and less funding/promo of cars.

There's PLENTY of funding available for mass transit. The only issue is where it ends up.

Your county transit agency, VTA, is in charge of a SIX BILLION dollar extension of BART. For one fifth of that price, you could electrify the entire Caltrain system, through three counties, and replace the whole fleet with bleeding-edge modern European equipment.

The primary reason why there is no Caltrain funding is that electrification is primarily a systems and rolling stock acquisition, with almost no money going to the civil construction cabal (Parsons Bechtel Soprano) that calls all the shots in Bay Area transportation funding.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

One way to electrify is to contract with PG&E for horsepower hours, where they build and own the distribution, and own the locomotives, charging for energy supplied at the drawbar. Kinda like how parking meters and red light cameras are paid for.


Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of University South
on Jul 29, 2010 at 6:08 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

I was part of the crowd at the northbound train platform this morning. To answer the first commenter, the older, conventional trains have 1985 locomotives, I believe, as opposed to the new ones pulling the Bombardier equipment.
Regarding HSR - I think the key to preventing these problems is electrification of the trains - with or without HSR.

Interestingly, NYT just had an article evaluating on-time performance of NY metro area commuter rail: Web Link

"One of the slowest routes on the Long Island Rail Road is the trip from Port Jefferson to Penn Station.

That route is also hobbled by its use of diesel engines, which the railroad says have been difficult to maintain. ..."


Like this comment
Posted by Baby Bullet train
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 29, 2010 at 11:26 pm

The "Baby Bullet" train is a recent innovation. Don't know how many there are, but they are very pleasant and fast -- express trains.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2010 at 7:58 am

Caltrain having long delays again today.


Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of University South
on Jul 30, 2010 at 10:57 am

YIMBY is a registered user.

Yes, as someone above noted, there were delays last night, and even this morning. It is most unnerving, depressing, and frustrating. I think one can trace the problems, to some extent, to the fateful period in the fifties and early 60s when counties, including ours, opted out of BART, and then Marin and SM dropped out of the BART district, the latter partly thinking that "there is SP", they can do the job without a property tax that BART required....so what we are left with is a breakdown, suicide -prone diesel rail system without a dedicated funding source that has begun its 'death spiral', as many others have noted with the recent revelation that SM has cuts its funding allotment. See Sierra Club piece: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of University South
on Jul 30, 2010 at 10:59 am

YIMBY is a registered user.

sorry about that - here's the Sierra Club piece, but I hope you enjoyed reading about Will Shortz!
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by jb
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 30, 2010 at 11:49 am

There is some illogical thinking going on in this transit conversation. High speed does not work with a stop at every community. Bloody fights over whose comminuty will be among the two or three stops that are consistent with speed.

Everyone is so enthusiastic until they learn that they will not be able to catch a fast train in their town. Many in the Stanford Industrial park gave up the train when local stops were eliminated in favor of baby bullet stops at the downtown station. Trains may be fast, but the connection carrying people back to the skipped stations can be unreliable (train was late so they left before the train arrived), or very slow.


Like this comment
Posted by another YIMBY
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm

What are you talking about, "jb". Every northbound train that stops at the California Ave. station between 6am and 9:30am is a limited stop train. That's 6 trains every morning. And there are similar numbers southbound and in the evening.


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2010 at 3:37 pm

"The "Baby Bullet" train is a recent innovation. Don't know how many there are, but they are very pleasant and fast -- express trains."

Let's face the facts: the so-called Baby Bullet is no bullet at all; it simply skips certain stations. I live in the North Fair Oaks neighborhood of Menlo Park, and could easily walk to the Atherton station to go to work at Stanford--a trip that is subsidized by Stanford. I'm one of many others in the neighborhood who work at Stanford.

Unfortunately, to create the non-bullet (not exactly speedy, btw), CalTrain has closed the Atherton station on weekdays. This, despite the fact that the Atherton town council had a big role to play in preserving the right of way for CalTrain. I say re-open the Atherton and Burlingame stops for at least some of the rush hour service. It makes *NO* sense for those of us in this community to *DRIVE* to the Menlo Park or Redwood City stations to reach University Avenue and Marguerite. Let alone other destinations.

Come on, CalTrain. Do the right things by the taxpayers who are funding your jobs and program.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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