CalTrain EMU proposal

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CalTrain EMU proposal

Postby cpontani » Tue Jul 24, 2007 3:22 am

From Progressive Railroading...
On the Cover: An Electric Proposal. Caltrain 2025 is a $3.9 billion long-range strategy to meet the agency’s capacity vs. demand challenge. Part of the plan is pretty run-of-the-mill: bring the system to a state of good repair, redesign several stations to handle more traffic, improve grade crossings and electrify the corridor. The other part is, well, unique.

Caltrain officials have proposed operating electric multiple unit (EMU) vehicles along the corridor — think subway cars operating on open track rather than in tunnels. The lighter-weight vehicles would stop and start much quicker than Caltrain’s diesel locomotives, enabling the agency to improve travel times and, therefore, add more trains. But the EMUs Caltrain wants to operate aren’t Federal Railroad Administration-compliant; the vehicles don’t meet the administration’s crashworthiness standards. To operate the EMUs, Caltrain would have to obtain a waiver from the FRA. If the FRA grants it, Caltrain would be the first commuter-rail agency to obtain permission to operate non-compliant vehicles. In turn, Caltrain could propel its service to a whole new level, operating faster trains and more frequent service


Any idea what these would look like? And I don't understand why there's a need for non-FRA-compliant EMU's when there's a bunch of them already running on the east coast and Chicago. Is it a low-level platform issue? Why is there a need to reinvent the wheel?
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Postby lensovet » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:43 pm

while I have no idea whether this is anything like reality, if you've looked at any of the visualizations made by the CA High-Speed Rail Authority, these future EMUs are being drawn as essentially the Bombardier bi-levels, but with pantographs added to them. quite amusing actually.
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Postby modorney » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:03 am

Caltrain is also a freight railroad, so they have to meet FRA (which is tougher than FTA) standards. Even though the freight is handled when passenger service is not running, there is the potential that a car or locomotive is left on the line, and a passenger train might strike it.

There are ways of getting around this. One extreme method is what VTA does. The physically remove a few feet of track, that connects to Moffet field, and a track crew would have to bolt the track back in place. Moffet does not get much freight, the rail service is left in place since one part of the Ames Research Center might get shipped to Ohio, and it is too big to go by truck.
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Postby cpontani » Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:31 pm

I haven't seen any drawings yet, so if you have a link, can you please post it here?

I don't think you have to go through that kind of separation. New Jersey Transit's Riverline, diesel light rail from Trenton to Camden, shares tracks with active freight lines. They just run the freight at night, and there's strict times by which NJT must get off the tracks. So if there's a concert that runs late at the Tweeter Center, concert-goers might be out of luck, or they have to take a bus from a certain stop. I'm not really sure, as I'm on the other side of the river here.
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Postby chrsjrcj » Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:59 pm

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Postby DCmetrogreen » Sun Jul 29, 2007 7:46 pm

Very European! I wish the FRA would get with the program already!
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Postby cpontani » Mon Jul 30, 2007 4:32 am

Thanks for the pic. I would hope these would get pushed through the proverbial red tape, as EMU's would really increase the speed, and there already is a prescedent on the East Coast.
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Postby Otto Vondrak » Sun Sep 23, 2007 10:50 pm

Well, Caltrain can buy all the EMU's they want... but unless there is catenary to power them... they're pretty useless.

Don't hold your breath for this project to be realized anytime soon.

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Postby Irish Chieftain » Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:37 pm

They're still talking the talk with Caltrain electrification…? I heard about that quite some years ago. In some respects, it was supposed to have been tied into the HSR program, with the Caltrain route being used in part like the low-speed TGV operation on traditional rail routes before entering the LGV.

Makes no sense to go non-FRA. Using ALP-46s to haul the bilevels would yet be a remarkable improvement over using diesels. And this is JMHO, but if Caltrain were to go EMU, they should go with a low-platform version of the Metra Highliner—the line certainly is no stranger to gallery cars per se.
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Postby cpontani » Mon Sep 24, 2007 5:11 am

From the looks of this picture, it doesn't seem to be much of a stretch.

http://railroadpictures.net/Trains/Metra/Metra_Electric/IMG_3297_tn1024.JPG

But are they as quick to accelerate as a single-level EMU? I rode them once a few years ago, and I don't remember them being that quick between local stops.
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Postby Tadman » Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:40 pm

Metra Electric is just a pokey railroad. Sumitomo built those highliner EMU's in the pic above, and they also built the South Shore single-level MU's. With AC motors and inverters, the single-level South Shore MU's scoot quite fast. Much as I love Metra, it's a somewhat backward looking group - in other words, they are still on old-tech for their Highliners, including contactor control and DC motors.
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Postby Nasadowsk » Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:33 pm

Actually, aren't the new Highliners AC, not DC? I swore I saw a video of em and they had an AC carrier noise to 'em.

Metra's pretty much on the trailling edge of everything, even their new diesels aren't exactly breaking any ground, or heck, doing anything that hasn't been around for 20 years...

Didn't MPI have to find some eastern-bloc firm to build the prime movers because EMD doesn't even make them anymore?
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CalTrain EMU's?

Postby Rail Boy » Sun Jan 11, 2009 9:38 pm

I certainly like the idea of going electric period.

I presume this is a dead deal since there has been no mention in over a year?
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Re:

Postby Fan Railer » Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:55 am

Nasadowsk wrote:Actually, aren't the new Highliners AC, not DC? I swore I saw a video of em and they had an AC carrier noise to 'em.

Metra's pretty much on the trailling edge of everything, even their new diesels aren't exactly breaking any ground, or heck, doing anything that hasn't been around for 20 years...

Didn't MPI have to find some eastern-bloc firm to build the prime movers because EMD doesn't even make them anymore?

the highliners are DC. you must be thinking of the new Nippon Sharyo DD EMUs on metra (they are shinier)
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Re:

Postby neroden » Fri Jan 30, 2009 4:31 pm

modorney wrote:Caltrain is also a freight railroad, so they have to meet FRA (which is tougher than FTA) standards.

Well, if by "tougher" you mean "stupider".

Caltrain's models show that the non-FRA-compliant off-the-shelf European equipment they want to use is actually safer in a crash with a freight train than FRA-compliant equipment. The Europeans who've used it in practice all agree, of course. Caltrain has been talking about actually crashing a train just to prove it to the FRA -- a very expensive proposition.

Caltrain is pretty much set on electrification and is even budgeting for it. There's simply no better way to increase the speed or frequency on the Caltrain route any more (additional tracks would be even more expensive than electrification). They also really, really want to use lightweight European equipment because it has better accelleration, is cheaper to operate, and is cheaper to purchase (because it's produced in greater volume than the only-for-the-US-market-with-its-stupid-rules equipment).

But it's all tangled up with the HSR plans now.
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