Northbound. A broken rail near Morgan Hill, California delayed northbound Caltrain service this morning, with trains originating in Gilroy delayed up to an hour as passengers were bused around the breakage. Passengers crowded onto unfamiliar trains as dispatchers combined multiple routes into single trains. The break, which is also holding up freight rail traffic, was discovered early this morning by Union Pacific.
Fritz of Cyclelicious was among the first to tweet the breakage to the Caltrain Twitter feed and providing train delay information even before the platform announcements were made.
Today also marks the first time I've heard reasonably accurate delay announcements over the PA speakers at the train stations. In the past, the delays have always been very vague such as "expect delays of up to an hour." This morning, the announcer actually announced train numbers and approximate delays in minutes! Kudos to Caltrain for this.
Southbound. Some southbound trains were also delayed after the engine on train 324 quit working. Southbound trains behind #24 were forced to wait while train number 226 coupled up to the disabled train to push it out of the way. Caltrain Tweeters report southbound trains are running as much as an hour late. If somebody has photos of the two trains #24 & #26 coupled together I'd love to see those pictures; please leave a link in the comments.
To receive real time updates on Caltrain issues on your phone, sign up to Twitter and "follow" Twitter Caltrain. Be sure also to set up Twitter and your mobile device to send and receive these updates from Twitter. An analogous bike car info service is Twitter Bike Car. Click here for information on how to contribute to these Twitter feeds.
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I was riding South from SF towards Mountain View this AM, usually around San Mateo I start looking at my watch and decide if I want to consider hopping a train. The tweets are very helpful in this regard, though this morning they were a bit misleading - the NB trains were delayed but I couldn't confirm if that was delaying SB trains.
I decided to try to get 322 in Redwood City. As I was rolling towards the station the train pulled in. The gate was down on Broadway and the train was emptying. Here's why you NEVER trying to run the gates - I was watching my train on the platform wondering if the gates would go up in time for me to get to the train and a NB train came screaming by - I didn't know it was coming until it was already past. Where I was standing - on the left side of the road - there really isn't a gate, there is a gate on the right side of the road and on the sidewalk. I could see someone in that circumstance spacing it out. But I digress...
After the gates came up I rode over to the train, the door closed in front of me but the conductor was standing in the other door. He opened the door for me. Good fortune as 324 - the next SB train, broke down. Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug. Today I was the windshield.
Ravi Pina is trying to figure out how to do updates by SMS. Of course, the real answer is to get CALTRAIN to send this stuff out.
The way I look at it, get as many people to use/contribute to the twitter feed and start to embarrass Caltrain. When the "324 is broken down" tweet came out I mentioned to the conductor "Thanks for letting me on - the 324 has broken down at San Bruno and I would have been stuck". I showed him the SMS stream on my Iphone, he looked at me like I was Zoltar the Magnificent.