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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Caltrain joins blitz brigade


While freight railroads have been reaping the time-saving benefits of trackwork blitzes for a while, transit agency officials often don’t consider shutting down all or part of a line for maintenance. But Caltrain did.

The first two weekends of November, Caltrain stopped service between Hillsdale station and San Francisco terminal, enabling 150 workers to toil around the clock and complete trackwork that otherwise would have taken 16 weekends to accomplish.

Trains continued to operate between San Jose and Hillsdale station in San Mateo, but SamTrans buses carried passengers between San Mateo and San Francisco; SamTrans and San Francisco Municipal Railway accepted Caltrain tickets for passage on their systems.

During the shutdown, crews reconstructed 7,000 feet of track with continuous welded rail and concrete ties, and installed a crossover in San Mateo; rebuilt 1,500 feet of track at Broadway and South San Francisco stations; and constructed a foundation for a four-track rail bridge and rebuilt the Center Street grade crossing in Millbrae.

Additional Caltrain construction plans include building a third track and electrifying the system.

The shutdown was so successful, say officials, more blitzes soon may appear on Caltrain’s radar screen.

"Partially shutting down allowed us to accomplish a significant amount of work," said Caltrain Chief Operations Officer John Ficarra in a prepared statement. "It’s something we will consider doing in the future as we rehabilitate and modernize the railroad."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/15/2000