Stadler Rail KISS

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The Stadler Rail KISS is a bilevel electric multiple unit (EMU). KISS is a German acronym for komfortabler innovativer spurtstarker S-Bahn-Zug, which translates to comfortable innovative speedy suburban train in English. The train uses an aluminium vehicle body which has reduced weight and allowed for improved energy efficiency.[1] Like most bilevel equipment, there is a top level and a bottom level with intermediate levels at either end. Double doors allow entry at a range of heights.


Caltrain embarked on an Modernization Program that would improve commuter rail service's reliability and operation. Included in the project is the electrification of the corridor from San Francisco’s 4th and King Caltrain Station to the Tamien Caltrain Station. Caltrain began evaluating their options for new rolling stock that would be used in this corridor. After extensive study, Caltrain was able to demonstrate that an off-the-shelf European EMU would offer similar safety in a collision to an FRA-compliant design. To operate a European EMU, Caltrain would need to obtain a number of waivers from the FRA.[2] These were granted in 2010.

In May 2014, Caltrain issued a Request for Information (RFI) for the procurement of EMUs, to which eleven manufacturers responded. The public was consulted with on various design elements of the new trains. A request for proposals (RFP) was issued on August 21, 2015. Four manufacturers submitted proposals, and by October, three were shortlisted. In August 2016, Caltrain awarded Stadler Rail a contract for 16 KISS six-car trainsets.[3]

Preliminary design review of the KISS EMU, including a mockup of the operator's cab, was carried out to the end of 2017. Also that year, Caltrain surveyed passengers regarding seat design. Passengers were able to try the seats in person and provide their input. Two concepts were presented: a blue and grey scheme and a grey scheme with red trim. The latter was found to be preferred by the majority of those surveyed.[4]

Construction of the first carshell was underway by the end of 2017.[5] In June 2018, two crashells were shipped to the United States and were expected to arrive in August 2018. A third carshell was sent to a facility in Germany for testing.[6]

Final assembly of the KISS EMUs takes place at a new facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. This, along with 60 percent of the components originating from the United States, will satisfy Buy America requirements.[7] Stadler broke ground on the new facility in October 2017. The 62-acre property has 75,000 square-feet of production space along with test tracks for the commissioning of the trains.[8]

The first car bodies for Caltrain arrived at their Salt Lake City facility in on September 5, 2018.[9] In December 2018, the Caltrain board approved exercising an option for 37 additional cars. This would allow for a total of 19 seven-car trainsets.[10]

By the start of 2020, 28 cars had been shipped from Switzerland and 25 had arrived in Utah. Electrical tests were conducted on the first trainset.


  1. Stadler KISS product page.
  2. [1]
  3. [2]
  4. [3]
  5. [4]
  6. [5]
  7. [6]
  8. [7]
  9. First CalTrain car bodiesroll into new Stadler SLC facility. Press release. Stadler Rail. 07 September 2018.
  10. Barrow, Keith. Caltrain increasing Stadler EMU order. Railway Age, 10 December 2018.