Thursday, April 07, 2016

When the train is late...

I worked later than normal today, so decided to take Caltrain and beat the bus home. The idea was for train #274 to pick me up in Mountain View at 6:38, drop me at Blossom Hill at 7:15 and I'd be home shortly after 7:30, vs. some time after 8:00 if taking the bus.
That didn't quite work out...

At 6:40 the signs at the platform showed a delay of 5 minutes for train #274, and then happily showed "ARRIVING". ... But no train came. There was some light reflecting off the rails in the curve before San Antonio station, has it usually does when a train is about to come around the curve. But no train came. The signs eventually stopped their happy "ARRIVING" dance, and moved on to show that trains #276 (departure at 6:52) is 10 minutes delayed. Hmmmm. Something happened.
I checked CaltrainStatus on Twitter, but they only had a notification about non-functioning crossing gates further up the peninsula.

#274 finally pulled into Mountain View station at 6:55. Oh well, only 15 minutes late. Lots of people getting off and on. Looks like there was a Giants game today in the city, and a Sharks game in San Jose. Most people got off in San Jose and a relatively empty train kept going further south towards Gilroy.

When we stopped at Capitol Station, the doors didn't open for most of the train. And then ... *POOF* The train went dark.


We lost head-end power (HEP), which is an auxiliary power generator to feed lights, AC, and heating in the cars. The only other passenger in my car was freaking out, talking on the phone, "Yes, the whole train is dark. It's dead. Oh my God. Oh my God." I told her to relax.
The conductor announced on the PA that they are resetting HEP. I tuned in to the Caltrain channel on Railroad Radio to hear if I could pick up a few more details, but only heard protection orders for the broken crossing gates. A few minutes later the engineer had HEP running again on the second try, and we proceeded to Blossom Hill.

Arrival 30 minutes later than planned.
I should have taken the bus, but then I wouldn't have had anything to write about today...

These train sets are 30 years old. It's time that Caltrain starts the electrification project and gets new rolling stock...

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