Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: metraRI, JamesT4

  by David Cole
 
Greetings, all...

Here's a question that's been bugging me for a while, so I thought I'd ask here...

Metra has been using their gallery-style bilevels for decades, but I'm wondering if there has ever been any consideration given to using something like the Bombardier "pillboxes" like those used on GO Toronto and several other railroads (or some variation thereof, such as the MARC bilevels). I don't have numbers to back me up, but it seems like these cars would have increased capacity over the gallery-style, since there's two full levels on board rather than 1-1/2 levels on the gallery coaches.

Also, it seems like wheelchair accessibility would be easier on the newer style, since the lower level of the coach is much closer to the platform level.

What are the logistical differences on the newer bilevels compared to the gallery coaches, and how does the seating capacity compare? Have the GO-style bilevels ever been used on Metra on a trial basis?

Thanks...

  by metraRI
 
Unlike newer commuter agencies, Metra has followed in the footsteps of CB&Q, MILW, RI, & C&NW, which all operated bilevel cars before Metra took control of commuter operations. Since bilevels from those railroads are still in service today, there is no reason for Metra go with a new car design that might not be compatible with the ones currently running.

No Bombardier cars like those operating on new commuter railroads have ever been tested on Metra. Agencies that use Bombardier cars also have ramps on platforms instead of using wheelchair lifts....installing over 200 ramps would be quite a lot of work if Metra was to go with the same design as Metrolink/ACE/Coaster, etc.

Capacity on Bombardier cars I believe is higher..not by many, but Metra is not at a Capactiy crunch so its not really needed. Metrolink trains can only be 6 cars long with a single loco pulling, while Metra can have 11 and only 2 lines have 11 car trains.

I personally like the stainless steal gallery style over bombardier's cars. Bombardier bilevels also seem to fall apart more easily when they hit something bigger than a fly.

  by MikeF
 
And the cigar cars are just plain ugly! :P

  by MetraRy
 
after riding the Bombardier's on caltrain last week, i would have to say that chicago commuters and trainmen would not care for them. They segregate people into groups making it hard to find a seat and the seats face each other. I personely disliked them and as MetraRI said they require small mini platforms. This would require major investment at stations with crosswalk style platforms and all other stations would have to be retrofitted. There is also no vestibles. Why that may not be a problem in sunny San Fransico, i doubt that commuters here want snow blowing in on them at every station stop. Another problem i can think of is the bombarder's paint job. Metra wants a all stainless steel fleet. plus mikef's comment hits the nail on the head.

  by David Cole
 
MikeF wrote:And the cigar cars are just plain ugly! :P
No argument there... I actually much prefer the looks of the MARC bilevels. I think the interiors have a similar "split-level" configuration.

  by byte
 
I doubt Metra would ever look into them because they're not available in a stainless steel version. Metra's latest railcar purchases have decreased the amount of flat-sided steel cars on the diesel roster, with the ultimate goal of replacing them entirely with new corrugated stainless steel cars. It's obvious Metra wants to do away with the need to paint their car fleet, and if they bought newer style bilevels, which aren't suited for a corrugated outer shell, it would negate the last couple of orders for new stainless cars, which have replaced/are replacing the last flat-sided cars Metra owns.

  by David Cole
 
byte wrote:I doubt Metra would ever look into them because they're not available in a stainless steel version.
But the Kawasaki bilevels used on MARC, MBTA, and VRE are.

  by metraRI
 
Kawasaki cars used by MARC, VRE, LIRR, etc. are mainly used because they have doors for high level platforms...then stairs are used for ground level platforms like Metra. The cars are probably not accessible so Metra would have no interest.

I think those cars look worse than Bombardiers, especially the cab car.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v485/ ... G_0426.jpg

  by MetraRy
 
talk about a lifeless cab car. the Kawasaki used by marc and vre are a lot better looking then the ones used by LIRR. Still, does anyone know what the seating capacity is on the kawasaki's. They seem to be a lot smaller then metra's cars.

  by metraRI
 
As I was going to say when the forum decided to crash...

VRE is very open about its equipment, and gives brief history about its cars. They even put their consist for each train online for people to look at...they will be starting to run 8 car sets for the first time. VRE says gallery cars can seat 161 people, however they do not say how many a Kawasaki holds. The Kawasaki cars look like they are identical to Bombardier cars on the inside..only Kawasaki have doors on the middle level versus the lower level.

  by octr202
 
The Kawasaki's are similiar in layout to the Bombardier tri-levels, but with usually less capacity. From http://www.kawasakirailcar.com/commuter.htm:

LIRR: Seats 137/143 (cab/coach) 2-2 seating, high platform doors (no traps)

MARC: Seats up to 135, 2-2 seating, end doors with traps

VRE: Seats 135/140, 2-2 seating, end doors with power traps

MBTA: Seats 175/185, 3-2 seating, end doors with traps

On that site, there's also the LLLC, a prototype low platform trilevel, essentially copying the configuartion of the Bombardier cars.

There are full diagrams of each car, inside and out, too, on the site.

  by octr202
 
metraRI wrote:Kawasaki cars used by MARC, VRE, LIRR, etc. are mainly used because they have doors for high level platforms...then stairs are used for ground level platforms like Metra. The cars are probably not accessible so Metra would have no interest.

I think those cars look worse than Bombardiers, especially the cab car.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v485/ ... G_0426.jpg
.

Right -- they're not accessible with on-car wheelchair lifts, because the standard for northeast operations is the mini high (or high block), a one-car high-level platform for stations that are not full high-level.

  by David Cole
 
octr202 wrote:The Kawasaki's are similiar in layout to the Bombardier tri-levels, but with usually less capacity. From http://www.kawasakirailcar.com/commuter.htm
Wow... Cool link. Thanks! Too bad I can't download those diagrams, though. :(

I agree those LIRR bilevels are f-ugly... Way too boxy-looking for my tastes. I think the MARC and VRE bilevels are quite handsome, though.

Interesting about that LLLC prototype... As a huge proponent of electrification, it looks like those low spots on the roof are just begging for pantographs!

  by F40CFan
 
I read somewhere that they are very cramped and claustrophobic.

  by octr202
 
I've only personally been on the MBTA Kawasakis, and I'd say that while they are a lot less spacious than our single level cars ("flats"), its only an issue when standing up. I'm about 6'1", and my head is pretty close to the ceiling.

Now, the only gallery cars I've been on are the Highliners, but I'd say that the upstairs is far more confining on those than either floor of the Kawasaki (although the one person seat with a window is pretty cool!).

Just my $0.02.