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 Pensyfan19
In a very surprising move by Metra, the board of directors approved the purchase of up to 500 Alstom Coradia multilevels from Alstom, likely to replace the Pullman and Nippon Shario gallery cars. Even though this bi-level car design looks a bit square and nothing like a usual Alstom Coradia, the interior and other portions of its design look very interesting! Metra just released the official video of the railcars a few minutes ago, and can be found here.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=htt ... AdAAAAABAD
  by Rockingham Racer
In an otherwise good move, I would not want to ride too long on those what seems to be razor-thin seats.
  by Backshophoss
Looks like a design variant of the Caltrain Surfliner cars.,biggest change iscab at normal seat level instead of on upper deck.
  by west point
Cab low instead of upper level. Does that restrict engineer's view?
  by bostontrainguy
It may be artistic license but how did they pull off having almost all of the seats facing forward? Doesn't look like enough room to rotate the seats. Do all Metra trains get wyed?

Big pet peeve of mine is requiring half of your passengers to ride backwards like on the new Acela. Just not comfortable for lots of people.
  by RRspatch
The placement of the engineers cab does surprise me. On the Aurora line, which I used to dispatch (Eastend Desk), there's a LOT of grade crossings especially on the east-end. I'm sure there's plenty of grade crossings on the other METRA lines as well. Having the engineers cab upstairs like the Alstom Surfliner cars would increase safety in the event of a grade crossing accident. I wonder if the lowered cab is a METRA request or just the way Alstom presented the design.

These cars do indeed look like the Surfliner cars that Alstom built about 20 years ago. It's a shame Alstom didn't get the recent California/Midwest order as they would probably be in service by now. Trying to re-invent the wheel is something we do way too often.
  by electricron
I believe having the low walk through cab is more to do with Metra's existing coaches having low level vestibules between cars on the low level. Actually, they are on the medium level of the new cars vs the low level. Superliners and their variants all have high walk through cabs because the vestibules between cars is on the high level.
In other words, the cab location location of the new cars is based on the between cars vestibules level of the older cars. Metra will obviously running mixed consists on trains for years to come.

This is interesting news about METRA placing an order for 200 Alstom multilevel cars with an add-on option for up to 300 additional cars. This is a totally new design for METRA for a two-floor car as compared to the gallery cars that make up their entire fleet. METRA has been studying a new car interior change in recent years.

The oldest cars in Metra's fleet are the Budd cars and painted Pullman-Standard cars which date from the 1960s and 1970s primarily and are now over 40 years old which will likely be replaced by this new Alstom car fleet.

The lower floor will be at low-level platform height which will not only make them more ADA accessible - this will be better for anyone that has issues climbing stairs compared to the gallery car center vestibules. Two side doors on each new car at the quarter points replace the single center vestibule on gallery cars.

The upper floor will be full length and width instead of the limited gallery seating of the current fleet. In case anyone is unaware the gallery cars upper seating have narrow access stairs.

The vestibule level on the gallery car fleet is "traditional" height requiring the stairs up to the interior. Keeping the end door level at that standard height could allow both car types to be coupled and probably used with each other provided that they are mechanically compatible.

Cab cars on the traditional or lower level should be the same or similar to any single-level cab car in terms of visibility or front-end protection - which is likely being bulked up in this new car design. The height of the cab in the upper level of gallery cars is a safety factor - the problem is entry/exit to the cab area which is by way of the adjacent "gallery" area to a single seat on each side for the Engineer (right) or any observer (left).

The first new cars will not arrive until some point in 2024 judging by the timeline from METRA. This may usher in a fleet replacement strategy going forward into the second half of the 2020s decade.

For now METRA's gallery car fleet will continue in service - and what makes this interesting to long time observers is the varied ages and origins of these cars over time serving Chicagoland commuters...MACTRAXX
Last edited by MACTRAXX on Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by frequentflyer
Is this for Metra only or a new product that Alstom will be offering to other agencies too?

At 46 seconds in, one can see the front boogie, is it odd to have disc brakes on only one set of wheels for a vehicle that has to stop often?

With Alsom buying part of Bombardier, is this the product Alstom is prepping to replace the thousands of Bombardier multilevel cars out there?
FF: Some good observations here - I took note of this myself after viewing the METRA video:

1-This is a new car design that is somewhat based on the Bombardier/GO Transit bilevel which was first
designed and built in the late 1970s. This car type has been used by multiple rail transit agencies in both
the US and Canada. The new Coradia multilevel could be offered as an option going forward elsewhere.

2-The bogie (truck) design is similar to those used on the Bombardier bilevel cars. Some trucks have
visible outside disc brakes on both axles or on one as shown. There should be no difference in braking
compared to the more traditional passenger car truck designs used on the gallery cars.

3-This new car design could replace the Bombardier/GO Transit bilevel car in sales terms.
The oldest cars of the GO Transit type date from 1978-1979 making them now just over 40 years old.
Rail car fleets are replaced on an age or attrition basis and there is not a need for widespread replacement
with many of the Bombardier bilevel cars now in use much newer than the original GO car fleet was.

I would have liked to have seen the Bombardier/GO Transit bilevel car built with stainless steel.
The new Alstom Coradia car as a descendant looks to be a good car design...MACTRAXX
  by bostontrainguy
On another thread there was a discussion about fluting and how it isn't necessary anymore and probably a thing of the past. Interesting that there is fluting on this new car.
  by conductorchris
There is no fluting. It looks similar though, because the body of the car is lower, extending down between the trucks. The floor of the full-width lower level is just a few inches above the rail.
  by ExCon90
The linked Metra news release states that the cars are compatible with existing cars and will be operated in mixed consists, suggesting that the cab placement may indeed have been dictated by that requirement, as suggested above. I read when Metra Electric introduced its present equipment that certain signals had to be repositioned because of impaired sightlines from the cab at the new height. Any such problems anticipated on the rest of the system?
  by eolesen
Going to the split level design was inevitable once Nippon-Sharyo exited the US market. Perhaps CRCC might have had a better chance if the procurement had been done under a Biden Administration, but there's no question that the Alstom product is proven.
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