All aboard: California expands rail passenger fleet

Train passengers traveling in Northern California and the Central Valley will be able to enjoy a more comfortable and modern ride with the launch of new Venture Passenger Rail Car trains unveiled during a recent Caltrans and San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission event at the Stockton Regional Maintenance Facility.

The single-story, fully ADA-accessible passenger cars provide wider aisles, accessible restrooms and fully automated doors, continuing California’s expansion of comfortable and convenient options for travelers and commuters.

California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin.

“Our goal is to make traveling throughout our beautiful state by train as accessible, convenient and comfortable as possible, and these new train cars have us on the right track,” said California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin. “I thank the Federal Railroad Administration, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority, San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, Siemens, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, and our many other partners who have worked tirelessly over the years to help improve passenger train travel for all Californians.”

Caltrans Director Tony Tavares.

“These trains are a giant leap forward in passenger experience,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. “In addition, they have been built in California, providing economic prosperity to our region. They show our commitment to combating climate change and improving the multimodal transportation network for all Californians.”

“For decades, the San Joaquins has been a backbone of our regional transportation network,” said Pat Hume, Sacramento County Supervisor and Chair of the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors. “We are committed to providing our riders with the highest quality service, equipment, and amenities. These new Venture Rail Cars move us forward into the next era of rider experience, comfort, and reliability. We are also pleased to have sourced the Venture Cars from Siemens, who manufactured these cars in Sacramento, one of our corridor cities. Local manufacturing not only contributes to the character of our service, but also to the local economy.”

The trains will be used on the Amtrak San Joaquins line, which runs five daily roundtrips between Oakland and Bakersfield, and two daily roundtrips between Sacramento and Bakersfield. The first six-car set is in operation on the Oakland-Bakersfield route and helps restore service to pre-pandemic levels and sets the course for future service improvements. These new rail cars are the first upgrade to the passenger riding experience on the Amtrak San Joaquins line in nearly three decades. They allow wheelchair users to move easily between cars.

Siemens Mobility, under contract to Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, built the rail cars at their facility in Sacramento, with finish work performed at the in Stockton Regional Maintenance Facility, owned by the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission. Caltrans purchased the new rail cars with a $132 million in federal and state funds.

All seven trainsets are expected to be in operation on the San Joaquins line by the end of 2025. The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority  manages the Amtrak San Joaquins service.