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Sunday Excursion to Alstom on Mare Island in Vallejo, CA



Text and Photos by Carl Morrison,

Sunday Excursion to Alstom on Mare Island (Vallejo), California

We walked to the TRAC World Headquarters from the Vagabond Inn, hoping to have breakfast at the restaurant on first floor of the same building, but found it closed.  A local told us that 1/2 block down we could find coffee and muffins, which we found.  We walked back up the street, past the TRAC Offices, and found a bench on which to rest and have our breakfast.  About 8:35, attendees who had signed up for the bus to Alstom began to arrive and we talked trains for a while.  The bus was not there at 8:45 as planned, but Bob Reynolds was on the phone confirming that it was on the way after they fixed the wheelchair lift on the bus (which was not needed on this day).  We continued our railroad talk and eventually the bus arrived.  Bob had driven on to Vallejo to be sure our guide did not leave, thinking that we were not coming.  As it turned out, we arrived only 15 minutes late for the beginning of our tour.  
Alstom to Overhaul MK Caltrans California Car Fleet

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Alstom has been selected by Caltrans to
renovate all 66 bi-level intercity passenger vehicles from its
California car fleet. The Caltrans fleet was manufactured by Morrison
Knudsen in Hornell, NY ­ an Alstom facility since 1998, between 1994 and
1997. The fleet of vehicles is comprised of four distinctive car types ­
cab, trailer, coach and food service cars.

The Caltrans fleet of vehicles are operated and maintained by Amtrak, on
the San Joaquin Corridor from Oakland to Bakersfield, and the Capitol
Corridor going from Sacramento to San Jose - the third busiest Amtrak
operated route in the nation. The fleet operates at speeds of up to 79
miles per hour on 350 miles of track, serving over 30 stations, with a
yearly ridership in excess of 2 million passengers.

The contract worth USD13.1 million includes for the complete replacement
of the door systems and upgrade of the wheelchair lifts, as well as the
wreck repair of one car. The work will be performed over a two-year
period without disrupting the daily service, at the Alstom's new Train
Life Services (TLS) facility located in Mare Island (Vallejo), California.

This facility of 112,000 square feet is approximately 60 miles from
Caltrans headquarters, located in Sacramento, California. With an
opening planned for October 2009, it will provide a wide variety of
services, including, wreck repairs, vehicles sub-systems overhauls, and
will be the distribution center for parts for the West Coast. Mare
Island will be a unique maintenance facility on the West Coast capable
of offering such capabilities.

Caltrans has chosen Alstom due to its past on-time and on-budget
performance on wreck repairs on various types of passenger vehicles.

This new contract builds on Alstom's momentum in the field of
renovations and upgrades in North America, exemplified by the Acela
logistic project with Amtrak, originally contracted for a five year
period started in 2006, which was extended to a ten year contract.

Bob Reynolds
TRAC Volunteer and Board Secretary

(Click any photo below for a double-sized copy;  Click BACK in your browser to return to this page.)

View from our Bus Bench Breakfast, advertising a New Year's Eve fireworks show from Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge about 8 a.m.

The Capitol Bldg. on a quiet Sunday morning.

The California State Capital Dome where we walked before our bus to Alstom arrive.

Our first view of Alstom's facility as we stepped off the bus.

An unrelated locomotive next to Alstom caught most of the groups's eye.

We were greeted by Shawn Gavne, Production Manager, briefed about the operation, and I asked if anything was off limits for photographs to which our guide responded, "Photograph anything you like, go inside the cars if you like."  Wow, as you can see below, I photographed practically everything in the large facility.

Shawn Gavne, Alstom Production Manager, West Coast Transport Operations, 201 Pintado St., Vallejo, CA

Work Cart with everything, including his tunes.

The door openers are being replaced on all the cars in the shop at this time.

These jacks can raise the cars for tuck work.  The four above were borrowed from another of their facilities.  The very large cranes in the top of the facility were built to lift boats, and cannot lift rail cars.

Inside an Amtrak California Car.

Through the rear door of an Amtrak Calif. Car.

View of the second Amtrak California Car from the second level of the other CA Car.

One of five-paged Production Schedule for the repairs on the 8004 Car.

(Click any photo below for a double-sized copy;  Click BACK in your browser to return to this page.)

A wheelchair lift being repaired.

Looking through the center door of the two Amtrak California Cars to the CalTrain car.

Above, Don checks out the moving crane in the facility.  Left, Crash repair to an Amtrak California Car that hit a truck.

Three locomotives were being repaired and repainted at Alstom.  

BUGX 337

GP9 nee NP 337 to BN 1922 to B     Model:  GP9

BUGX stands for Bruggere and Monson

Double-click the photo above and see how massive this facility really is.

BUGX 7632

ex-SSW     Model:  GP40-2

The 3 locomotives lined up in the shop.

Right, Yours Truly having the time of his life.

Don Drummer enjoying "taking the pulse" of Alstom on Mare Island.

"Rust in Peace"

Mike McGinley enjoys a view from the driver's seat.

"Sleeping Giant"


Golden Gate Railroad Museum

Golden Gate Railroad Museum - 2003    65-00095 (2nd)

c/n 70126, b/d 1/44  Baldwin VO1000

First Served in US Navy
- built as SLSF #215
- repowered by EMD 1957
- to NWS Concord, 1984
- to Golden Gate Railroad Museum
- to LB Railco

Other shots around the shop.

Overhead Hoist, Capacity 10,000 lbs.

Inspection Pit

Caltrain Gallery Car

TRAC Attendee, Luis Pepi, 16, enjoyed checking out all the cars and locomotives inside and out.

Mike McGinley pointed out the reading materials in the men's room ... Trains Locomotive 2009 !

President-elect Bob Reynolds, 7th from left, suggested we all gather for a photo before we concluded our tour.

Saw a large crane on the water nearby.

We bid adeau to our guide and headed for lunch.

We had arrived on our bus over this lift bridge that had 2 lanes for traffic and a rail line down the middle.

Mare Island on the right.

At our lunch stop, we enjoyed a very good Mexican food meal.

We returned to the Vagabond and rested a while.  After the large late lunch, we decided to walk through Old Sacramento and maybe get desert.

The Sacramento River plows past Old Sacramento.

Tower Bridge over the Sacramento River.

Built in 1935 as a highway bridge.

Delta King, hotel boat.

Leslie Salt evaporation pools and processing plant.

Former Blimp Hanger.  Formerly 2n largest free-standing building.

Drawbridge, California - Ghost Town.  Abandoned when fed. gov. claimed the land when a wetlands act passed.

San Jose has many commuter trains like Amtrak California and Caltrain.

Late afternoon we came over Cuesta Grade, around the horseshoe, and into San Luis Obispo.

I saw that we were trailing an Amtrak California Car, like the ones being repaired at Alstom, which explained the delay in Oakland whe it was added to the consist in Oakland.

A little police investigating going on inside the horseshoe curve.

The police car near the track.

Wine tasting takes place south of San Luis Obispo while passing golden grape leaves.

Always a beautiful ride on the Coast Starlight through the California Vineyards and California Oaks.

Next year the TRAC Conference will be in Southern California.

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