Sponsor Message:
Non Aviation Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
Commuter Rail In The U.S.  
User currently offlineaf773atmsp From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 2697 posts, RR: 1
Posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 5171 times:

How come most commuter rail lines in the U.S. use large locomotives that look like they were designed for freight hauling? The exception being Amtrak trains on the Northeast Corridor.

Most U.S. commuter trains are this size:


And most or all commuter trains in the UK are smaller in size than U.S. commuter trains. Same for most of Europe's commuter rail lines.

My next question being could a U.S. commuter rail buy used European commuter trains, or are the track gauges different in Europe?


It ain't no normal MD80 its a Super 80!
34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinetravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3529 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 5132 times:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most European commuter trains electrified? I know most if not all US commuter trains are diesel powered, and many of them run on the same tracks as freight trains.

User currently offlineTCASAlert From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5116 times:

Quoting travelin man (Reply 1):
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most European commuter trains electrified?

Not in the UK - some lines are, but many aren't. Even if they are electrified they can still run on electrified lines (you often have diesel and electric trains running on the same tracks).


User currently offlineB6JFKH81 From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 2896 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5115 times:

Here on Long Island, we have the Long Island Rail Road, a division of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). There are a few different types of trains. Electric service stops less than halfway out on the island (Huntington in the north, Ronkonkoma in the center, and Babylon on the south of the island). So we have electric service until those stations. The electric trains that we have do not have locomotives:
The newer M7's:

http://www.railpictures.net/images/d1/7/1/0/3710.1266889223.jpg

The older M3's:

http://www.railpictures.net/images/d1/0/0/0/1000.1275230539.jpg


To go further east where electric service is not available, you have diesel service. The trains actually can convert to electric once electrified 3rd rails are available, but otherwise they run on diesel:

http://www.railpictures.net/images/d1/3/5/1/4351.1266888809.jpg

IIRC, diesel locomotives need to be larger than electric ones. The ones that I am used to here on LI are definitely "sleeker" looking than what we used to have years ago (those REALLY looked like they were supposed to be for freight):

http://www.railpictures.net/images/d1/6/6/3/9663.1256226300.jpg

~H81



"If you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it"
User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7961 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5103 times:

Quoting af773atmsp (Thread starter):
How come most commuter rail lines in the U.S. use large locomotives

I would guess it is about flexibility. At night when no commuter train is running, you can pull a freight train with the same locomotive. Just a guess.

Quoting travelin man (Reply 1):
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most European commuter trains electrified?

From what I can tell: yes. But there are some diesel powered commuter train as well. They use to look like this:

http://www.wolfgang-wellige.de/zuege...OB-VT113-2005-04-21-Osterhofen.jpg
or this
http://www.bahnbilder.de/bilder/br-640-lint-27-111092.jpg

(don't wish to hotlink pictures)



I support the right to arm bears
User currently offlinesignol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 3017 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5097 times:

Quoting af773atmsp (Thread starter):
My next question being could a U.S. commuter rail buy used European commuter trains, or are the track gauges different in Europe?

Besides the electric / diesel point that has already been made, the track gauge is the same for the US and much of Europe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_gauge) but the loading gauge is different - much of the US has larger, so things like bridges, platforms, etc have more space. So importing a (for example) Britis DMU to run on US tracks would theoretically work, but there would be a large gap between the train and the platform edge.
I'm not sure of the details, but the US actually has 2 loading gauges, the East Coast is similar to mainland Europe (which is larger than UK) and the West is even larger than that...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loading_gauge

signol



Flights booked: none :(
User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7787 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5094 times:

most commuter rail operate on lines also used by freight railroads. And according to FRA regulations for crash worthiness and such basically relegates commuter rail to using pretty heavy equipment. AFAIK LIRR is strictly commuter and hence the use of EMUs there.

There are some exceptions in the US. The Sprinter Rail in San Diego County used Seimens Desiro DMUs and the Trimet Westside Express in Portland uses American sources DMUs, but it operates along existing heavy freight rail.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7787 posts, RR: 16
Reply 7, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5074 times:

Quoting NoUFO (Reply 4):
I would guess it is about flexibility. At night when no commuter train is running, you can pull a freight train with the same locomotive. Just a guess.

Commuter rail is typically owned/operated by by local/regional transit authorities, though in some cases -- such as the Sounder commuter rail in the Seattle Metro the trains are operated by a mainline railroad, in this case BNSF. And typically the locomotives are specialized for passenger operations vs. freight hauling.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlinebohica From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2719 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5071 times:

Quoting af773atmsp (Thread starter):
How come most commuter rail lines in the U.S. use large locomotives that look like they were designed for freight hauling?

The locomotive in the picture you provided is actually designed for passenger service. It can accelerate faster than a freight locomotive and they are equipped with head-end power which provides electricity to the cars for lights, heating, A/C, etc.

Quoting af773atmsp (Thread starter):
And most or all commuter trains in the UK are smaller in size than U.S. commuter trains.

Because most commuter trains operate on freight railroads, they are limited on how many trains they can operate. They make up for that by having bi-level cars and longer trains to move the masses of people to and from work. Most passenger trains in Europe operate on their own tracks and are not controlled by freight railroads.

Quoting af773atmsp (Thread starter):
could a U.S. commuter rail buy used European commuter trains, or are the track gauges different in Europe?

Probably not. The European trains are not compatable with their US counterparts. The coupling system is completely different and would have to be modified to meet US standards. Also there may be other issues to be straightened out before they can be approved by the Federal Railroad Administration. Any savings made by buying used European trains would be wiped out with the modifications.

The track gauge is the US and most of Europe are the same. I know Spain is different.

BTW Amtrak does operate European Talgo trains between Seattle and Portland. The couplers were modified so they could be pulled by US passenger locomotives.


User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7787 posts, RR: 16
Reply 9, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5047 times:

Quoting bohica (Reply 8):
BTW Amtrak does operate European Talgo trains between Seattle and Portland. The couplers were modified so they could be pulled by US passenger locomotives.

The Amtrak Cascades is a bit of an odd duck. I don't know the history behind the choice of the Taglos, but they had to be modified to meet FRA requirements, which includes running a non-powered control unit aka Cabbage car, on the end of the train.... which are de-engined older EMD F40s. i would have thought it would have made more sense to use Amfleets or the modified Superliners that later made up the Amtrak California/Surfliner fleets.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineHomsar From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1189 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5045 times:

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 6):
according to FRA regulations for crash worthiness and such basically relegates commuter rail to using pretty heavy equipment.

This is the main reason right here.

Imported equipment from Europe has to get special waivers to operate in the US, because they do not meet the very strict crashworthy standards as seen here. In order to avoid those heavy standards, railroads to be completely separated from any other rail traffic (such as freight traffic).

There are very few DMU type cars that meet modern safety standards. There was a company building them for a while, called Colorado Railcar, but they went bankrupt while building the Portland order. I don't think anyone else is making something similar right now.

Some services have "temporal separation" (passenger during the day, freight at night) and that works for the purposes of having lighter equipment, but otherwise, you need one of those big heavy locomotives in front.

There are some maintenance benefits to locomotives, though, too. The FRA classifies DMUs as locomotives, and thus they are subject to the same maintenance and inspection requirements of regular locomotives. Simple trailer cars don't require inspections quite as often, are much simpler to maintain, and last a lot longer.



I was raised by a cup of coffee.
User currently offlineHomsar From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1189 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 5043 times:

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 9):
i would have thought it would have made more sense to use Amfleets or the modified Superliners that later made up the Amtrak California/Surfliner fleets.

The tilt capabilities of the Talgo equipment allows the trains to take curves at higher speeds than normal passenger cars. There are lots of curves on the Seattle-Portland route as the train winds its way in between the mountains and the water.

The real mystery is why Wisconsin bought Talgo equipment for Chicago-Milwaukee, which is one of the straightest routes in the country. That's where bi-level equipment like the Surfliner would make much more sense.



I was raised by a cup of coffee.
User currently offlineracko From Germany, joined Nov 2001, 4857 posts, RR: 20
Reply 12, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 5006 times:

Wow, I just looked up the weight...that locomotive in the first post weights 29,000 to 134,000 kg according to wikipedia...that's almost twice as much as the Siemens Desiro on the Sprinter line mentioned above - just for the locomotive versus a train that already seats 128.

As for capacity, there are double decker EMUs, should be no problem to build them as DMUs as well.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dc/WESTbahn_KISS_bei_Sulgen.jpg/800px-WESTbahn_KISS_bei_Sulgen.jpg


User currently offlineaf773atmsp From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 2697 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 4980 times:

Quoting Homsar (Reply 11):

There was going to be a Talgo assembly facility in Wisconsin. I'm not sure if the facility has been built or if plans are delayed.



It ain't no normal MD80 its a Super 80!
User currently offlineHomsar From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1189 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 4953 times:

Quoting af773atmsp (Reply 13):

There was going to be a Talgo assembly facility in Wisconsin. I'm not sure if the facility has been built or if plans are delayed.

They've already set up the facility (it's using an old automotive parts plant that shut down years ago) and are already building trains.

Nonetheless, they could have given the same incentives to another company to build railcars there. In fact, there was another company in Milwaukee that was building commuter railcars, and recently went bankrupt.

My question was more to the trains themselves, which will in the long run be worse than the equipment that's running right now.



I was raised by a cup of coffee.
User currently offlinelapper From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2002, 1566 posts, RR: 7
Reply 15, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 4763 times:

I think what the OP is referring to is somethin glike this:
http://www.mdrs.org.uk/jointline/mw388_vt221103.jpg

These are the Virgin Super Voyager trains that run on unelectrified tracks here in the UK. They operate long distance at high speed on diesel, without the need for a large locomotive.


User currently offlinetype-rated From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 4738 times:

Chicago has a great commuter rail system and they do run on the same tracks as the freighters do. They all use double decker coaches.



Note how colorful the front of the engine is, I think that's because too many people just walk out in front of these trains without looking. And when you are on a downtown-station non-stop they are running over 60mph!


User currently offlineaf773atmsp From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 2697 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 4580 times:

Didn't Amtrak test ICE high speed trains on the Northeast Corridor in the 1990s? Were those trainsets modified for the American railways?


It ain't no normal MD80 its a Super 80!
User currently offlinetype-rated From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 4428 times:

Heard a newscaster on television talking about high speed trains. He was talking about city pairs he thought were stupid, one of them was Los Angeles- San Francisco. He asked "who would take a train between those cities?" He obviously didn't know that the route is one of the most heavily traveled routes in the US! He should do his research before speaking.

As early as 1973 Amtrak tried a Canadian built "turbo train" between STL-CHI to see how it would work out. Not an ICE, but a fast train none the less. But track conditions on that city pair kept the train down to normal speeds, so there wasn't any advantage. They also were maintenance hogs.


User currently onlineUltimateDelta From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 2147 posts, RR: 6
Reply 19, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4360 times:

Quoting af773atmsp (Reply 17):
Didn't Amtrak test ICE high speed trains on the Northeast Corridor in the 1990s?

Yes they did: I can't find much (if any) info on it, but there you go.



Midwest Airlines- 1984-2010
User currently offlinejcs17 From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 8065 posts, RR: 39
Reply 20, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 4313 times:

It's funny, I was just discussing this with my aunt on Thursday night. I take the LIRR and Metro-North to visit my cousins, aunts, and uncles who live on Long Island and Connecticut. In nearly every Western European country, the trains run like clockwork, you can time them to the second. Here, if the train arrives "on time" it arrives 8 minutes late and you're liable to get stuck in a Penn Station/Grand Central tube for another 5-10 minutes. The worst part is that when you're leaving Manhattan during rush hour, you might be left standing for at least 30 minutes.


America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
User currently offlinetype-rated From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 4276 times:

Weren't Amtrak's Metroliners high speed trains? Do they even use them anymore?

User currently offlineracko From Germany, joined Nov 2001, 4857 posts, RR: 20
Reply 22, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 4242 times:

According to wikipedia, they ran at speeds up to 201km/h. That's normal intercity-speed, High-Speed rail is 250km/h and above.

User currently offlinedreadnought From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 8866 posts, RR: 24
Reply 23, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 4229 times:

Quoting B6JFKH81 (Reply 3):
The trains actually can convert to electric once electrified 3rd rails are available,

Which may be fine for subways but you would think that overhead lines would make much more sense out in the open - not to mention much safer.



Veni Vidi Castratavi Illegitimos
User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9536 posts, RR: 31
Reply 24, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 4229 times:

Well, whatever the FRA certifies can be operated. Looking at the first picture where a large locomotive pulls just 2 cars one can only say that this is a total overkill of power. Waste of diesel fuel to run such heavy trains for just a few people. Not speaking about wear and tear of rails.

The same could be achieved by smaller, lightweight DMU#s build by Bombardier, Siemens or other manufacturers. These are meanwhile almost as standardized as Boeing and Airbus.

But I ecognize that all depends on the operating environment. Bt even if these trains share tracks with 10000 ton coal trains, the robust engine would not give much protecvtion to the passengers and since trains are operated in push/pull mode these days, a head on collision with the conrol car in front.

LIRR operates on a separate dedicated network with little fright traffic and is generaly an exception, same as MEtra.

NJTransit as well, which is an extraordinary - compared to US standards- network. They are just buying new elecroc locomotives which are build by Bombardier in kassel / Germany. These beasts are so heavy that they cannot roll to the seaport on their own wheels. They have to be shipped by heavy load truck to Hamburg over the road.

Not sure if these locos are hybrid / electric and Diesel, that might be the answer why they are so heavy.



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
25 DesertJets : Metroliners were basically replaced by the Acela's as the express high speed service on the NEC. Part of the problem is that much of our rail infrast
26 Post contains links racko : I looked it up. 131t on 4 axles, holy cow... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ALP-45DP
27 Post contains links JakeOrion : Because many commuter networks involve gate crossings, they had to incorporate safety in the design. Also, these units must power the coaches, everyt
28 PanHAM : Yes, that is commonly known. What I mant is that these locomotives pick up juice from the catenary where catenary exist and run on Diesel (electric o
29 JakeOrion : Ahhh your talking about the diesels that can utilize the third rail system, such as the GE Genesis P32AC-DM. It can run on both diesel or electric po
30 PanHAM : Well, third rail is an option, but the common standard these days is a catenary system and it is used in the NE corridor. NJ transit can use these loc
31 Post contains links NorthStarDC4M : Too heavy compared to Europe? Well that's apples and oranges. Lets look at this from another perspective. Some people are saying typical commuter tra
32 N1120A : Non-Acela services are also loco hauled, though mostly electric. Same track gauge. The issue is FRA crush ratings, which very few EU trains meet. Sti
33 Homsar : I'll agree that they're light, but speed is dictated generally by the track, and not the equipment. These would go no faster than 79 mph for much of
34 racko : If you look at the ALP-46 and the DB Class 101, FRA rules definitely make a difference. The 101 produces 6,400kW with a weight of 83 tons, while the A
Top Of Page
Forum Index

This topic is archived and can not be replied to any more.

Printer friendly format

Similar topics:More similar topics...
An History Of Mouthwash In The USA, 1976-present posted Fri Jul 8 2011 01:09:08 by Airstud
2011-What Do You Hope For Yourself In The New Year posted Mon Jan 3 2011 11:09:06 by tugger
RE: What If Obama Really Wasn't Born In The USA? posted Thu Dec 30 2010 09:08:39 by falstaff
In The Event Of A Nuclear Attack---- posted Thu Dec 16 2010 11:42:47 by ImperialEagle
Sabine Schmitz Takes Another Blonde In The M3 :D posted Wed Dec 8 2010 13:15:30 by Springbok747
Pat Buchanan: US Policy Stuck In The Past posted Tue Dec 7 2010 23:17:01 by Aaron747
Cashed-up Aussies Buy Up Big In The States posted Tue Oct 26 2010 05:18:29 by TheCommodore
In Need For Some Guidence In The Darker Times! posted Sat Oct 23 2010 13:12:11 by Poadrim
Things That Go Bump In The Night posted Mon Oct 18 2010 23:27:47 by AR385
I Got Lost In The Alps. Where Was I? posted Mon Oct 18 2010 11:17:59 by speedbird9