Colorado Railcar DMU Status

Discussion about RDC's, "doodlebugs," gas-electrics, etc.

Re: Colorado Railcar DMU Status

Postby ordinaryguy » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:52 pm

I noticed that someone suggested that the New Jersey River Line had restricted rail-use to commuters. Do you know if that's just for the rush-hour commutes and to what radius it extends? Our Minneapolis/St. Paul electric LRT can't find legislature funding for expansion, as they are pushing to build more freeway lanes which will sit idle in off-hours. We really need the freedom to reserve the rails for light European DMU trains during the 3 hours mornings, and 3 hours evenings on weekdays. I look around and hardly ever see a passing freight train, so certainly 18 hours is enough to bring containers of imported goods in. The legislators are trying to find work for those whose jobs were lost to those imports. Imported cement, steel, and construction equipment uses the transportation money fast and the same for our LRT, with little left for paychecks. Any idea how this is done? Do they get FRA waivers? Or is this a design rule change?
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Re: Colorado Railcar DMU Status

Postby electricron » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:36 am

ordinaryguy wrote:I noticed that someone suggested that the New Jersey River Line had restricted rail-use to commuters. Do you know if that's just for the rush-hour commutes and to what radius it extends?
We really need the freedom to reserve the rails for light European DMU trains during the 3 hours mornings, and 3 hours evenings on weekdays. I look around and hardly ever see a passing freight train, so certainly 18 hours is enough to bring containers of imported goods in. Any idea how this is done? Do they get FRA waivers? Or is this a design rule change?


All light weight European built DMUs running in America are using FRA waivers to do so. The wavier is based upon a set time of separation between non FRA complaint (lightweight) and FRA compliant (freight) operations. In every case so far in America, the old freight corridors are now owned by a transit agency. The freight business isn't busy, and all freight operations can be moved to the graveyard shift when the lightweight passenger trains aren't operating. You will find it difficult to convince freight operators to do the same on the corridors they own. Additionally I would like to add, all the corridors using light weight DMUs are looking at running trains midday, if they aren't already doing so.

At one time, Colorado Railcar was the only manufacture making FRA compliant DMUs. That's not true anymore. Colorado Railcar was bought out by a freight railcar builder, and Nippon Sharyo is now building FRA compliant DMUs in Illinois. So, there are choices of DMUs available today.
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Re: Colorado Railcar DMU Status

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:20 am

Welcome, ordinaryguy! Always nice to see a fellow Minnesotan on these boards. In further reply to your post, the New Jersey Transit RIVERline restricts freight to off-hours in the evening, yes.

As for Twin Cities-area freight traffic, I suggest you take a look at a few critical intersections - Hoffman Junction at the base of Dayton's Bluff in St. Paul is one, and another is Minneapolis Junction in northeast Minneapolis. Nearly every train passing through the Twin Cities goes through one or the other, and every passenger train in the Twin Cities area (current or projected) will pass through one of them. While 60 trains per day doesn't necessarily seem like a lot when compared with auto traffic, it's very difficult to thread more trains through those areas no matter their size - stopping distances of heavy freight trains are such that you need a LOT of space surrounding them.

That said, I agree that there is a place for DMUs in our urban area. The major proposed trunk lines - Red Rock, Rush Line, Norwood-Young America, I-94, I-394, Bethel - don't quite have the ridership right now for the conventional diesel-powered trains we're using now. Northstar has proven that while commuter rail works in our area, it is an expensive solution when not part of a system. I believe that a DMU-based system would be more economical, and allow the area to get the benefits of a true rail system.

Regarding the Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo DMUs, I'll be very interested to see how they work in Toronto and in California. I doubt I'll ever see a US Railcar DMU (successor to Colorado Railcar), but more power to them too.
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Re: Colorado Railcar DMU Status

Postby D.Carleton » Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:12 am

electricron wrote:All light weight European built DMUs running in America are using FRA waivers to do so. The wavier is based upon a set time of separation between non FRA complaint (lightweight) and FRA compliant (freight) operations.
Almost but there is a little more. The new Stadler DMU being used in the Denton, Texas service meets the "Tier 1 Alternate Compliance" spec., that is, it meets Tier 1 with Crash Energy Management (CEM). The current rules require a waiver from FRA for "full access to the network" and once they have that they may roam the domestic rail network freely. There is no need for temporal separation.
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Re: Colorado Railcar DMU Status

Postby electricron » Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:43 pm

D.Carleton wrote:
electricron wrote:All light weight European built DMUs running in America are using FRA waivers to do so. The wavier is based upon a set time of separation between non FRA complaint (lightweight) and FRA compliant (freight) operations.
Almost but there is a little more. The new Stadler DMU being used in the Denton, Texas service meets the "Tier 1 Alternate Compliance" spec., that is, it meets Tier 1 with Crash Energy Management (CEM). The current rules require a waiver from FRA for "full access to the network" and once they have that they may roam the domestic rail network freely. There is no need for temporal separation.

DCTA is hoping to get that wavier by this summer - but they haven't got it yet. The FRA runs on its own schedule, just like every other federal agency.
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