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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Caltrain creates spaces to stow luggage going places


On the one hand, it’s great that Southern Californians are taking the train to the San Francisco and San Jose airports; on the other hand, that’s resulted in a lot of luggage in passenger areas on the rail cars.

In an effort to encourage the growing train-to-plane passenger traffic, while keeping seating areas free of bulky items, Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (JPB) is adding luggage areas to 26 of its Caltrain rail cars. Each train would have at least one dedicated space where passengers can store suitcases and other large items.

The aluminum two-shelf racks have space underneath for larger bags. The luggage car, located third from the north end of the train, would have a green graphical decal identifying it as the luggage car.

JPB also is adding 20 new cars with on-board wheelchair lifts so that areas previously reserved for wheelchair users may accommodate luggage. All passengers would be allowed to stow large items — such as baby strollers — in the luggage area, but prohibited from bringing items so large they can’t be carried on one trip or that can’t fit under the seat or in the luggage area.

Philadelphia-based Benetech Co. built the racks, which are being installed as part of a $35 million overhaul program under contract with Alstom Transtport Inc. So far, six racks have been installed; officials expect the remaining ones to be in by year-end.