BART Board Approves Contract For New Train Control System

January 13, 2020 8:00 am · 7 comments

BART will spend almost $800 million for a modern train control system its leaders say will enable more trains to run on tighter schedules, and allow for more (and more frequent) service through the Transbay Tube.

On Thursday, BART’s board of directors approved a $798 million contract with Hitachi Rail STS USA, Inc. to design and build the train control system. The new system, to be installed over the next 11 years, will replace the current system installed in 1972.

BART currently relies on a “fixed-block” train control system, which relies on widely spaced signal blocks to denote a train present on a given section of track. The new communications-based train control system can more precisely detect a train’s location, which improves reliability and allows for shortened distances between trains. That will allow for more trains on the system at a given moment, thus more frequent service.

“This will be a pivotal project in BART’s history,” BART General Manager Bob Powers said in a statement. “Modernizing our train control system will help us to support future ridership in the busiest sections of our system.”

Funding for the new train control system is coming from a variety of local, state and federal sources, including $400 million from Measure RR, approved by voters in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties in 2016 to provide $3.5 billion in bond funding to rebuild BART’s infrastructure. Major funding is also anticipated to come from the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant Program.

The new train control system is one of four major components of BART’s Transbay Corridor Core Capacity Project, expected to boost BART’s overall capacity by 45 percent, according to Carl Holmes, BART’s assistant general manager for planning, development ands construction.

The $3.5 billion project also calls for 306 more Fleet of the Future passenger cars, a maintenance complex for the new train cars and new electrical substations to ensure reliable power for all trains.

“This is critical because our trains are already crowded, and we anticipate the average number of riders who travel transbay per hour during the commute will jump to 30,000 by the year 2030,” Holmes said in a statement.

In addition to the main contract, Hitachi Rail was awarded nearly $82 million in contracts to design, build and support similar communications-based train control for BART’s Silicon Valley Extension. The funding for that project will be provided by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

Ricardoh January 13, 2020 at 9:48 AM

I thought they did this already a couple of years ago.

Cellophane January 13, 2020 at 9:52 AM

“Funding for the new train control system is coming from a variety of local, state and federal sources”

It’s all tax dollars.

ConcordRez January 13, 2020 at 10:06 AM

Narrowing Cowell seems counterproductive. That is a main road to BART and to the park

John P January 13, 2020 at 4:20 PM

It’s BART. Watching this fiasco unfold will be painful, yet entertaining. The final cost to tax payers and riders will be astronomical.

walter January 13, 2020 at 1:35 PM

That’s strange, I still have a few souvenir toggle switches in a box somewhere from Bart’s last control system upgrade, that was installed in the 90’s . Not the 70’s. Seems like an awful lot of money to spend, especially to farm out to a foreign company. Shouldn’t there have been a bidding process to choose the provider? Soulndnt we choose a local or US based company to do this work? What incentives did bard board members receive to choose Hitachi? Fair question as bribes and corruption been an issue in the past.

Shrektrician January 13, 2020 at 4:25 PM

Both the new Warm Springs and Berryessa Extensions used this old 1950s tech. The “fixed block” control system consists of giant resistors called “Wee-z Bonds”. They were very finicky and we made a ton of money working double time rebuilding them getting to work. That is why the San Jose Extension is taking so long. They will finally get this ancient technology to work then abandon it immediately after the new extension opens.

PESFG January 13, 2020 at 7:32 PM

Expect this project to be completed in 2300 at the cost of $80,000,000,000.

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