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 Pacific 2-3-1
 
Chicago is in the midst of receiving deliveries of stainless steel Metra Electric gallery cars from Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo's plant in Rochelle, IL. However, I'm beginning to wonder if this time-honored configuration will be ordered for the Metra diesel lines in the future.

While many would argue it's the perfect car type for Chicago, once the Amtrak Midwest corridor bilevels (similar to the "California Car"/"Pacific Surfliner") start boarding and alighting alongside them on the platforms in Chicago Union Station, people will see that "you don't have to climb several stairs" to enter the lower level. And by then they'll be "off the shelf" from an Illinois production facility.

The "California Car" was envisioned for commuter service (probably with higher density seating), as well as intercity corridor, but Los Angeles backed out of the arrangement because they wanted mid-level passage between the cars. So they ordered Toronto-style "trilevels" from Bombardier, and San Francisco and San Diego had to follow suit.

On the East Coast, the trilevel configuration is used because of the existing high-level platforms. Except for Virginia
Railway Express, which likes the gallery cars, because they hold more passengers. All the VRE platforms (for now) are low-level. Montreal has ordered tri-levels because of the high-level platforms in Central Station (Gare Central).

What would you do with the existing cars? Keep running them, but on different trains? I would imagine some sort of electronic fare collection device would have been invented by then.
  by doepack
 
Pacific 2-3-1 wrote:What would you do with the existing cars? Keep running them, but on different trains?
That's the likely scenario. For the diesel lines, the use of single level coaches such as the Horizon equipment used on Amtrak's corridor services (or something similar) would nicely augment Metra's fleet because they could be put to use on the lower density routes like NCS, or SWS. You'd probably be able to get away with using 2-3 cars for off peak service, maybe 5-6 cars at the most for rush. I'd guess 25 to 30 cars or so would likely be enough to finally send the elderly gallery cars of CB&Q heritage into retirement for good. But the Horizon coaches use traps for low platform boarding, and unlike the modern gallery cars, aren't equipped with automated ADA lifts; they require the assistance of manually operated lift mechanisms, such as those used by Amtrak personnel at CUS and its five outlying stations. And if you can't order it off the shelf, then there's the added cost of modifying a handful of these older cars into cab cars for use in push/pull service, which I suspect would not be cheap.

So unless we're talking about LRV's, DMU's, or high platforms, I'm not aware of any current passenger car builders (Bombardier, Kawasaki, Nippon-Sharyo, etc.) that have single level cars in their catalog that are equipped with automated lifts and designed for low platform use in a heavy haul commuter rail environment; it's gallery cars or bust...
  by F40CFan
 
Pacific 2-3-1 wrote:While many would argue it's the perfect car type for Chicago, once the Amtrak Midwest corridor bilevels (similar to the "California Car"/"Pacific Surfliner") start boarding and alighting alongside them on the platforms in Chicago Union Station, people will see that "you don't have to climb several stairs" to enter the lower level. And by then they'll be "off the shelf" from an Illinois production facility.
People can see that today. Superliners are on many trains in CUS. They offer the same low level entrance without having to climb steps.

I seriously doubt you'll see a departure from gallery cars any time soon.
  by mtuandrew
 
What is the price differential between a Gallery car and a California car, both per-unit and per-seat? I suspect that is the major reason - simpler frame and bodywork probably means a lower cost for the Gallery design.