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Old 01-31-2019, 06:45 PM   #1
swtat
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New CR Bi-Level Coaches

The MBTA has put out a RFQ for a PM to oversee the project. These coaches will presumably replace most (all?) of the remaining single-level coaches as well as include options to expand the fleet for SCR.
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Old 01-31-2019, 07:40 PM   #2
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Re: New CR Bi-Level Coaches

Thatís excellent news. I would imagine using all bi-level coaches could substantially reduce overcrowding.
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:19 PM   #3
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Re: New CR Bi-Level Coaches

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Thatís excellent news. I would imagine using all bi-level coaches could substantially reduce overcrowding.
Yes/no. Seating capacity is an obvious plus, and fleet-wide uniformity of seating units allows for lowered operating costs by putting together more precision-length trainsets. But dwell times with bi's take somewhat of a hit vs. flats.

The hit is pretty effectively neutralized if:
  • ...the line is uniform full-high and can run all-door automatic doors, but right now that's only the 3 Old Colony lines. Relief could be found by fixing the last two low Fairmount Line stations, and fixing Swampscott to enable auto doors between North Station and Salem on Rockburyport trains before switching back to manual and door traps.
  • ...if the bi's have 2 x 2 seating instead of 3 x 2. Right now all of the T's are 3 x 2, but the most readily available purchase option is a Bombardier MultiLevel coach or one of CRRC's quasi-clones...which have 2 x 2. The T didn't state here a preference, likely for purposes of casting a wide net on vendors.
  • ...if they're replacing vestibule-door flats instead of multi-door flats. The T's single-levels are end-door. It's somewhat more controversial of Metro North to be replacing its Shoreliner III/IV flats with bi-levels soon, because those cars have a set of middle doors in addition to the standard end doors to speed egress and those riders will notice a much more dramatic spike in dwells with the switch to bi's.

TransitMatters was a big advocate for switching back to single-levels to go full-on at taming dwells, and up to a few months ago the T was considering going that route. But it's not surprising that they swung back to bi's. No one has produced an order of domestic commuter rail single-levels since the Alstom Comet V for NJ Transit in 2002, which was a botched redesign ending up overweight with poor ride quality. Last real plug-and-play flats were by Bombardier in '96-98 using obsolete aluminum frames that have fallen well out of favor vs. stainless steel. The Siemens flats Amtrak and VIA Rail are ordering are top-down intercity-designed and extreme overkill for any utilitarian commuter adaptation. No other manufacturers are importing their Euro flats because market demand for them is so negligible right now that Buy America gets in the way.

Thus, with replacement about 5 years late and market forces being what they are...bi-levels are the only truly prudent choice. And I'd wait to see what the RER and system accessibility studies have to say before groaning too hard at the dwell times, because if it expedites a few key platform raisings like that ^^Eastern Route example^^ given above we could see more substantial auto-door use on load-bearing schedules sooner than later. Despite the somewhat more unappealing passenger flow on bi's, ultimately "dwells" so-to-speak get better tamed by not having acute car shortages every single day...by having adequate, and plannable, seating assigned to all lines...by not having ancient cars crapping out left and right across the system...by not having the lines that do use auto doors get all screwed up because manual-door coaches were the only thing available that day...and by not racking up so much negative customer service from this all-around overreliance on rolling ruins.

-------------------------

FWIW...single-levels are not going away altogether. The 55-car Pullman fleet from 1978 was wholly remanufactured in '96 and are thus "newer" in service years than all other single-levels on the roster plus the largest 1991 batch of (recently rehabbed) Kawasaki bi-levels. They're not yet at end-of-life. It's the three never-rebuilt 1986-89 batches of Bombardiers totaling 145 cars and the remaining MBB's not retired by the Rotem order (22 active, another 2 dozen rotting in storage) which are the ones so worn that they must go pronto. All of the bike/ski car and Cape Flyer cafe car conversions are drawn from the Pullman ranks and will be around for a very long time, likely joined by a few additional bike/etc. conversions to further buff out the seasonal roster.

With the rest of that fleet you could easily fashion out a starter fleet for Urban Rail/"Indigo" service. Say post- add'l bike car conversions you have 48 Pullmans remaining...all of which are currently auto-door configured. You would only need to pick over the 'best of the rest' of the 25 Bombardier 1600-series cab cars with actively-enabled controls to come up with 16 four-car trainsets of all-flats (each with 3 Pullman trailers + 1 BBD cab) to run immediately on the Fairmount Line and other intra-128 services. Maybe just give the cabs a bargain-basement light refresh sourced from stripped parts from the other retired Bombardiers to keep them tolerably operable for another 6-10 years. Put AFC 2.0 tap surfaces on the coach doors, and keep the train lengths carefully managed at 4...absolutely no more than 5...so the acceleration behind a diesel stays peppy.

You could make a 15-20 min. frequency short-turn run with those sets. The equipment is capable. The operating cost will ultimately be better with eventual move to xMU's, but that purchase takes time. You can absolutely swing service starts on the current roster with careful enough ops management, and ride them through whatever bridge era it takes to get things wired up, new vehicles purchased, etc. And run at limited inside-128 mileage these old-but-functional cars should last long enough to reliably cover the spread.

This bi-level purchase is absolutely consequential for Urban Rail, even if those particular schedules never run with a bi-level attached.
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Old 02-01-2019, 04:40 PM   #4
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Re: New CR Bi-Level Coaches

I wonder if CRRC will make them. They would LOVE to get the business!!
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Old 02-01-2019, 05:07 PM   #5
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Re: New CR Bi-Level Coaches

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I wonder if CRRC will make them. They would LOVE to get the business!!
They're already making SEPTA's new push-pull coaches.

However, CRRC's bi-levels are a different design than the T's Kawasaki bi-levels and Rotem clones. Maintenance and trainlining commonality is important, so first preference is going to be for somebody not-named-Rotem who can do another K-car clone. Or, if it has to be a differing make, something in very widespread use at other agencies like a Bombardier MLV to help keep maint costs over lifespan down.

CRRC isn't necessarily going to be favored here even if they try to undercut the whole market with a low bid.
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Old 02-03-2019, 07:47 PM   #6
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Re: New CR Bi-Level Coaches

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
They're already making SEPTA's new push-pull coaches.

However, CRRC's bi-levels are a different design than the T's Kawasaki bi-levels and Rotem clones. Maintenance and trainlining commonality is important, so first preference is going to be for somebody not-named-Rotem who can do another K-car clone. Or, if it has to be a differing make, something in very widespread use at other agencies like a Bombardier MLV to help keep maint costs over lifespan down.

CRRC isn't necessarily going to be favored here even if they try to undercut the whole market with a low bid.

Rotem was at one time, vying for the contract to make the new Red & Orange Line trains, but did not get it. My guess is that they were too high.

Last edited by Jahvon09; 02-03-2019 at 08:00 PM.
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