Over the last several years, a record number of people have come to rely on Caltrain to get them where they need to go.  But for Caltrain to continue to be a useful means of transportation for our growing ridership, it has to be reliable. Regrettably, this week we have not lived up to your expectations or our own, and we apologize for that.

We recognize that your Caltrain commute has caused you delays, frustration and confusion.

Many of these delays  are the result of mechanical malfunctions on aging locomotives.  Caltrain’s locomotives are an average of 25 years old and despite our best efforts to maintain the fleet, as equipment ages there is an inherently higher risk of breakdowns.

In light of these recent problems, Caltrain will be reviewing maintenance and repair protocols with its contract operator. Additionally, Caltrain staff is assessing what fleet enhancement might be needed in the near-term in order to provide you with the high quality service you deserve.

We also understand that during incidents like these, it is critical for customers to have access to reliable information about how the service is affected. We have instituted several changes to improve announcements onboard and at stations and we will continue to provide real-time updates via social media.

Other improvements are on the way. Funding committed from our state, federal and regional partners will allow Caltrain to award contracts this year to electrify the railroad and replace most of our diesel fleet with new electric trains that will result in faster, more frequent, more reliable service.

We can do better, and we will.

We want to meet and exceed your expectations today and as we modernize the system.  Stay tuned to this space for details.


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  1. CalTrain riders are sick and tired of hearing about the mechanical issues resulting from aging, “ancient” locomotives and overcrowded trains which present a constant safety issue. Just DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT and DO IT FAST! Electrifying the railroad and replacing the old equipment is years down the road. You need to identify an interim solution for ALL the problems.

    • Look, I don’t like being delayed any more than you do. It’s awful to get stuck for hours with no alternative way home. But what exactly would a quick AND comprehensive fix entail? What they’re saying seems reasonable in order to really fix the problem, and not just apply band aids.

  2. This statement could have been written at almost any week over the last 5 years that I’ve commuted via Caltrain. While I appreciate the difficulty of the number of issues you experience, its sad that it has taken a first world metropolis transit system this long to acknowledge how much your failures affect all of us.

  3. I’m saddened that as a loyal Caltrain user who buys a monthly pass month after month, I recently received a substantial ($500+) fine for forgetting to tag my ClipperCard on the 1st working day of the month. I was one of several regular riders who showed our mobile phones demonstrating that we clearly had purchased the passes online but for whatever reason had forgot to tag. The conductor showed no mercy and basically told us to tell it to the judge. You can’t fix a lot of things overnight, like high speed rail, etc. but surely you can fix this. It would have been cheaper for me to drive and run a red light. I’m flabbergasted.

    • We’re very sorry for your experience. We know Clipper is a complex system. We can’t undo a citation, but perhaps some clear language to a judge about the situation might get it dismissed. It’s happened, but not always. Unfortunately, you are responsible for understanding how the Clipper card works, including a processing delay. We plan to address these issues in Clipper 2.0, which is still a way off. We are sincerely sorry for your experience.

      • Conductors should be instructed to accept other proof of monthly pass purchase for those who forget to tag on and off the first ride of the month–at least for the first few days of each month. I’ve accidentally done it myself *twice* over the last several years, and I understand the Clipper system up and down. Mistakes happen.

        Citing someone who clearly made a mistake due to a non-intuitive Clipper system is both a waste of time for both the conductor and the person being cited, as well as the tax payer money to run the case through court.

  4. “In light of these recent problems, Caltrain will be reviewing maintenance and repair protocols with its contract operator.”

    When did you get rid of Amtrak as the contract operator? Is there a connection?

  5. All these “Problems” is the same trick that equipment is old. They are being pushed from underneath by equipment manufacturers ( engines) that they don’t have anywhere else to sell their machines, and trying to convince the public: “Oh, yes the equipment is no good and we need to create new bonds that everyone needs to contribute as new taxes to buy new equipment” It’s all a conducted gimmick.

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