af773atmsp
Topic Author
Posts: 2037
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:37 am

Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 6:06 pm

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!
 
travelin man
Posts: 3198
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2000 10:04 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 6:56 pm

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.
 
tcasalert
Posts: 448
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:34 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:12 pm

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).
Next flight: Feb 2012 - BHX-CPH-BHX - SK MD87 / CRJ900
 
B6JFKH81
Posts: 1964
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2006 6:35 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:15 pm

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"
 
NoUFO
Posts: 7397
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2001 7:40 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:21 pm

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
 
signol
Posts: 2652
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:18 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:25 pm

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: NWI-AMS-JNB-DUR, JNB-AMS-NWI
 
desertjets
Posts: 7570
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 3:12 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:28 pm

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
 
desertjets
Posts: 7570
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 3:12 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:38 pm

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
 
bohica
Posts: 2304
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 3:21 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:41 pm

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.
 
desertjets
Posts: 7570
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 3:12 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:09 pm

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 avatar
hOMSaR
Posts: 1367
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:47 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:11 pm

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.
The plural of Airbus is Airbuses. Airbii is not a word, and doesn't even make sense.
 
User avatar
hOMSaR
Posts: 1367
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:47 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:13 pm

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.
The plural of Airbus is Airbuses. Airbii is not a word, and doesn't even make sense.
 
racko
Posts: 4548
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2001 12:06 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:35 pm

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
 
af773atmsp
Topic Author
Posts: 2037
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:37 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:13 pm

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 avatar
hOMSaR
Posts: 1367
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:47 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:52 pm

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.
The plural of Airbus is Airbuses. Airbii is not a word, and doesn't even make sense.
 
lapper
Posts: 1537
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2002 6:42 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:57 pm

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.
 
Type-Rated
Posts: 3901
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 1999 5:18 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:36 pm

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!
Fly North Central Airlines..The route of the Northliners!
 
af773atmsp
Topic Author
Posts: 2037
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:37 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:57 am

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!
 
Type-Rated
Posts: 3901
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 1999 5:18 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:17 pm

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.
Fly North Central Airlines..The route of the Northliners!
 
User avatar
UltimateDelta
Posts: 2068
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 7:56 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:30 pm

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
 
jcs17
Posts: 7376
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2001 11:13 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:35 am

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!
 
Type-Rated
Posts: 3901
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 1999 5:18 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:52 am

Weren't Amtrak's Metroliners high speed trains? Do they even use them anymore?
Fly North Central Airlines..The route of the Northliners!
 
racko
Posts: 4548
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2001 12:06 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:59 pm

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 avatar
Dreadnought
Posts: 9832
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 6:31 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:22 pm

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.
Forget dogs and cats - Spay and neuter your liberals.
 
PanHAM
Posts: 8533
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 6:44 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:28 pm

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.
powered by Eierlikör
 
desertjets
Posts: 7570
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 3:12 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:00 pm

Quoting type-rated (Reply 21):
Weren't Amtrak's Metroliners high speed trains? Do they even use them anymore?

Metroliners were basically replaced by the Acela's as the express high speed service on the NEC.

Quoting jcs17 (Reply 20):
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.

Part of the problem is that much of our rail infrastructure is pretty much frozen in time at some point in the 1930s. Even along the NEC there are still several major bottlenecks that would require major investment. The Baltimore and Potomac tunnel just south of Baltimore Penn station is one notable exam and the Hudson river tunnels on the approach to New York Penn Station being another. Both limit capacity and speed on a pretty critical line. If those bottlenecks could be addressed along with better signaling and control systems you could realistically get the trains truly ontime. But that equals $$$ that nobody is really willing to spend.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
 
racko
Posts: 4548
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2001 12:06 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:37 pm

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 24):
Not sure if these locos are hybrid / electric and Diesel, that might be the answer why they are so heavy.

I looked it up. 131t on 4 axles, holy cow...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ALP-45DP
 
JakeOrion
Posts: 1090
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:13 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:06 pm

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?

Because many commuter networks involve gate crossings, they had to incorporate safety in the design. Also, these units must power the coaches, everything from electricity to heating/air conditioning. I have heard that it takes about 800 HP to power them.

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 24):
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.

Typically these commuters run 5-6 coaches, and the one pictured is placed on a siding and not in service.

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 24):
Not sure if these locos are hybrid / electric and Diesel, that might be the answer why they are so heavy.

Most modern day US diesel locomotives are called "Diesel Electrics." The diesel engine is coupled with a electric generator, which then powers the traction motors (axles). These locomotives have actually been used to supply small towns with power, as this example was used in the Ice Storm of Jan 98'.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=346295&nseq=7
Every problem has a simple solution; finding the simple solution is the difficult problem.
 
PanHAM
Posts: 8533
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 6:44 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:51 am

Quoting JakeOrion (Reply 27):
Most modern day US diesel locomotives are called "Diesel Electrics." The diesel engine is coupled with a electric

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 of course) on extensions which have no wire over the rails. That would be a hybrid, like in cars which run on petrol or diesel once the batteries are empty. NJransit has such an operating environment.

Quoting JakeOrion (Reply 27):

Typically these commuters run 5-6 coaches, and the one pictured is placed on a siding and not in service.

Obviously as well. Still, with 5 or 6 coaches these trains are totally over powered. Modern commuter trains without heavy engines up front are much more economical and cheaper to operate
powered by Eierlikör
 
JakeOrion
Posts: 1090
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:13 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:17 am

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 28):
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 of course) on extensions which have no wire over the rails. That would be a hybrid, like in cars which run on petrol or diesel once the batteries are empty. NJransit has such an operating environment.

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 power sources.

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 28):
Obviously as well. Still, with 5 or 6 coaches these trains are totally over powered. Modern commuter trains without heavy engines up front are much more economical and cheaper to operate

3,200 HP is overpowered? The cars they have to pull/push are not light, as they typically weigh at a hefty 150,000 lbs. each.

And the engines are not that heavy at 260,000 lbs. compared to your typical freight locomotives (an SD40 weighs at 368,000.) And remember, the engine has to provide lighting, electricity and other "hotel" needs which contributes to the weight.
Every problem has a simple solution; finding the simple solution is the difficult problem.
 
PanHAM
Posts: 8533
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 6:44 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:49 am

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 locos on the Penn Station-Trenton services but also on lines which are not electrified. I don't think that the new Bombardier electroic locomotives are equipped for third rail.



Quoting JakeOrion (Reply 29):
3,200 HP is overpowered? The cars they have to pull/push are not light, as they typically weigh at a hefty 150,000 lbs. each.

well, the cars are too havy as well. Simple answer. The whole program to get people out of their SUVs or pick-ups onto commuter rail in order to save fuel is a caricature if commuter rail uses dinosaur cars.
powered by Eierlikör
 
northstardc4m
Posts: 2724
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 11:23 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:58 pm

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 30):

well, the cars are too havy as well. Simple answer. The whole program to get people out of their SUVs or pick-ups onto commuter rail in order to save fuel is a caricature if commuter rail uses dinosaur cars.

Too heavy compared to Europe? Well that's apples and oranges. Lets look at this from another perspective.
Some people are saying typical commuter trains are 6-8 cars. That may well be in cities still getting their commuter rail going, but lets look at a north american city that has well established commuter rail...
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=362655
GO Transit runs 10-12 car trains, each car carries 360 passengers to 500 crush load. That's 3600 passengers to 6000 passengers per train.

A couple European EMUs:
SNCF RER class Z20500, 5 unit EMU, max capacity (whole train) 1500 crush
Swedish X60, 6 car EMU, max capacity (whole train) 530 crush
Ferrovie Nord Milano TSR 5 unit EMU max capacity (whole train) 1650 crush

They just don't compare...

European rail is passenger centric and has been for years. Mostly is or was government supported, high population density... etc.

North American rail is... well... heavy freight centric. Except for New York, Chicago, Montreal, Toronto and maybe a couple more even urban passenger rail pretty much died out in the 50s-70s era. Rail lines are almost all private enterprise (notable exception being passenger rail services and the few lines owned for such, like AMTRAK's Northeast Corridor). Freight railroads have their trains to run, and commuter rail is at best a bit of extra revenue and at worst a traffic disruption. It's not simple to simply "add more trains" in most areas as the lines need to be signaled for 100 car unit trains doing 40mph, not passenger trains 8 cars long doing 100mph. And level crossings are the norm in much of North America, and collisions with traffic at these crossing happen frequently. Trains here need to survive even heavy impacts with large vehicles, but unfortunately fatalities still occur even with these "too heavy" trains...

http://www.newyorkinjurynews.com/201...-Several-Injured_201107146692.html

http://www.railwayage.com/breaking-n...ifornia-zephyr-killing-6-3265.html

Rebuilding the entire rail network to remove all these crossings is a non-starter, we are talking about thousands of grade crossings, even just in urban areas, and who's gonna pay for it?
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
 
N1120A
Posts: 26467
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 5:40 pm

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:06 am

Quoting af773atmsp (Thread starter):
The exception being Amtrak trains on the Northeast Corridor.

Non-Acela services are also loco hauled, though mostly electric.

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?

Same track gauge. The issue is FRA crush ratings, which very few EU trains meet.

Quoting travelin man (Reply 1):

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most European commuter trains electrified?

Still tons of diesel

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.

Nope. Separate systems and the locos are almost never shared (except in dire emergencies)

Quoting Homsar (Reply 11):
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.

Talgo trains are light and quite fast, plus they ride really smoothly.

Quoting Homsar (Reply 11):
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.

Yes, but it goes beyond the tilting.

Quoting Homsar (Reply 10):
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.

Not necessarily. The EU can and does build FRA spec trains.

Quoting Homsar (Reply 10):
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.

1) "Modern safety standards" are relative. The EU train systems, even some of the least developed, are far more "modern" than the US.

2) Colorado Railcar was taken over by US Railcar.

Quoting af773atmsp (Reply 17):
Didn't Amtrak test ICE high speed trains on the Northeast Corridor in the 1990s? Were those trainsets modified for the American railways?

Yes, though they ultimately went with a modified TGV design for the Acela.

Quoting type-rated (Reply 18):
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.

Those were cool, but were also (relative) fuel hogs.

Quoting type-rated (Reply 18):

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.
Quoting type-rated (Reply 21):
Weren't Amtrak's Metroliners high speed trains? Do they even use them anymore?
Quoting type-rated (Reply 21):

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

Actually, even the EU classifies 125 mph+ (201 km/h) as HSR.

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 30):

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 locos on the Penn Station-Trenton services but also on lines which are not electrified. I don't think that the new Bombardier electroic locomotives are equipped for third rail.

Can't run as fast on third rail as on overhead.

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 30):
The whole program to get people out of their SUVs or pick-ups onto commuter rail in order to save fuel is a caricature if commuter rail uses dinosaur cars.

Not really, because even the "dinosaur" cars are extremely efficient.

Quoting NorthStarDC4M (Reply 31):
GO Transit runs 10-12 car trains, each car carries 360 passengers to 500 crush load. That's 3600 passengers to 6000 passengers per train.

A couple European EMUs:
SNCF RER class Z20500, 5 unit EMU, max capacity (whole train) 1500 crush
Swedish X60, 6 car EMU, max capacity (whole train) 530 crush
Ferrovie Nord Milano TSR 5 unit EMU max capacity (whole train) 1650 crush

They just don't compare...

1) GO doesn't run as frequently as those trains.

2) GO is a massive exception in North America.

3) GO isn't running at the same speeds.
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
User avatar
hOMSaR
Posts: 1367
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:47 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:21 am

Quoting N1120A (Reply 32):
Talgo trains are light and quite fast, plus they ride really smoothly.

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 their service life.

As for a smooth ride, well, the first time I ever rode a Talgo was from Vancouver to Seattle, and the ride over the jointed rail in British Columbia was the worst ride I'd experienced up to that point. Other equipment rides much better on that kind of track. Even on welded rail (I think all the jointed stuff has been replaced), the ride quality is about equal.

Quoting N1120A (Reply 32):

Yes, but it goes beyond the tilting.

Right. It's more than just the useless tilt feature. It's also the fact that the trains have fewer seats than the existing trains they are replacing, and are not easily expandable. With conventional equipment, if you get a crush of passengers, you can add another car with a couple of switching moves and the whole thing can be done in a few minutes.

Adding a car to a Talgo train...not so much.

The point being there's nothing a Talgo can do in the Midwestern US (both current service and planned "high-speed" service) market that couldn't be more efficiently accomplished by conventional equipment.
The plural of Airbus is Airbuses. Airbii is not a word, and doesn't even make sense.
 
racko
Posts: 4548
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2001 12:06 am

RE: Commuter Rail In The U.S.

Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:14 am

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 ALP-46 produces only 5300kW and still weighs in at 90t. Since the ALP-46 is directly derived from the 101, she should actually be lighter, but instead weighs more.

Quoting N1120A (Reply 32):
Quoting travelin man (Reply 1):

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most European commuter trains electrified?

Still tons of diesel

It depends. Major routes are all electrified, it's usually the more rural or low-traffic routes that still run on Diesel - or in the case of very old routes, very small tunnels might prohibit the electrification.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: scbriml and 11 guests