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: JamesT4, metraRI

  by Kangaroo of 72
I was just thinking that -- even today -- the concept of the commuter "gallery car" is a quantum leap beyond anything else on the rails, at least passenger-wise. I mean, even Amfleet isn't too far removed from the clunky, steam era cars. And then, sometime in the '50s(?), seemingly out of the blue, we get these sleek double-deckers with tinted green windows that blew everything else away.

Does anyone know who the architect/designer of the first generation of bilevels was? And, would that be the Santa Fe's Super Chief, then? Or was it the St. Louis cars for CNW?

I wonder why they never caught on, on the East coast? (And I don't think VRE counts). Is the East too "traditional" to adopt something like this?

  by byte
I'm pretty sure the C&NW St. Louis-built bilivels were the first of that type/concept/whatever ever built. Though, the first bilevels were originally equipped with steam heating and not HEP, so they were running with the turn-the-engine-around-at-the-terminal strategy before the cab cars and HEP-equipped locomotives were delivered. The first coach and cab car (with a third coach and two HEP equipped F7s) are at IRM, though they don't run them very often (I think it's because the cars have windows with glass that's cloudy, and you can't really see outside).

  by octr202
Out here there's two simple reasons they didn't spread to the northeast: height restrictions and high level platforms.

Height restrictions throughout much of the Northeast Corridor prevent cars as tall as gallery cars. The worst in New York, where the river tunnels prevent even full size diesel locomotives from fitting (i.e., even an F40 or GP40 is too tall to clear the catenary in the tunnels). The short height of the GE P32/40/42 series was to accomodate these clearances.

Secondly, high level platforms, which gallery cars (IC Highliners excepted) cannot serve, date back well into the first half of the 20th century in the northeast.

Remember that the bi-level cars operated by northeastern commuter railroads are just about as short as they can be and still have two floors. This is especially true of the LIRR and upcoming NJT Comet VI's.

Having just recently ridden gallery cars for the first time, I do wish we could run them out here. A lot less claustrophobic, in my opinion, than the bilevels I've ridden on the MBTA, where the ceilings are pretty low on each floor.

  by c604.
The lack of bilevels on the east coast was due to the height restrictions in tunnels and things like that. Up until just a few years ago almost all of the commuter roads (and intercity trains too) had single level cars only. I think only the two Washington D.C. area services have true bilevels (gallery and those other funky looking things) now. Long Island has some sort of low slung variant of bilevels. I remember hearing NJT ordering or wanting to order a group of bilevels a few years back but I don't know if they ever took delivery. Other than that (and the Capitol Ltd.) I think its still all single level.

You're right though, its obvious that whoever designed the gallery cars put a lot of time and thought into designing a truly efficient commuter car.

  by c604.
Whoops sorry octr202 beat me to it (plus his post was a lot more informative than mine considering he lives there :-) ). What type of bilevel cars do they have there in Boston? The same type that Marc and VRE have?

  by MetraPace
The first bilevels were the ex-CB&Q bilevels built in 1950. The first one was #700, which was operated by Metra until a few months ago. C&NW started getting them in 1955 I think. C&NW had the first cab car (#151), which operated as Metra 8700 until 1998. It's now C&NW 151 again at the Illinois Railway Museum.

  by octr202
c604. wrote:Whoops sorry octr202 beat me to it (plus his post was a lot more informative than mine considering he lives there :-) ). What type of bilevel cars do they have there in Boston? The same type that Marc and VRE have?
They're similar, MARC, VRE, and MBTA all have Kawasaki bilevels. The MBTA cars are notched on the ends of the roof, unlike the MARC and VRE cars, and also have different interior layouts (i.e., the MBTA cars are designed to squeeze a lot more people in with 3-2 seating and no restrooms):

http://naphotos.nerail.org/showpic/?pho ... A22%3AMBTA

http://naphotos.nerail.org/showpic/?pho ... A63%3AMBTA

The Kawasaki site has more info on all these, as well as LIRR cars (which are fairly different):


  by F40CFan
The way I heard it, gallery cars were developed to get around a "wheel tax" imposed on the railroads by Union Station.

  by Tadman
Metra's new Highliners are standard Gallery Cars with pans and motors, plus high-platforms. If the clearance wasn't an issue, they could be used in the Northeast.

  by bones
Actually the first control cars on the "Q" showed up about 1966. There were lass than 10. The rest came in the 70's.