Bombardier's Trinity Rail Express cab car 1004
Bombardier has made its presence felt in the North American market with the bilevel coaches orginally designed for service on Toronto's GO Transit and built originally by Hawker-Siddley beginning in 1976. The cars have been widely received, and can be found in service all over the continent, from Seattle, WA to San Diego, CA to Miami, FL. According to Bombardier, over 650 bilevel cars are in service.
The car we rode was owned by Trinity Railway Express, and was built new in 2003. TRE rosters a total of 17 bilevel cars, including 12 former GO Transit Hawker-Siddley cars that were among the first built. Given the age of the design, I do not know if any of the cars are FRA compliant.
The cars are important to the market in that they put two full size levels of passenger area into a relatively compact area. The intermediate level above the trucks is used for passenger seating as well, reached by stairs up from the lower level or down from the top level. The HVAC units and other equipment are stored above the intermediate levels.
The first thing I noticed when I got onboard the cars was the headroom. Surprisingly, for a car that is a full four feet shorter than the CRM cars, there still is a reasonable ammount of headroom in the aisleways. (I stand 6'3".) There is a small luggage rack over the seats, so don't ty standing straight up out of your chair, though.
The interior was spartan, with cloth covered plastic seats and a rubberized floor. Flourescent lighting is recessed into the sides of the headspace. With the plastic wall pieces and ceiling, the car had a very sterile feel.
Trinity Railway Express runs 2-3 cars in push-pull fashion between Dallas and Fort Worth. As such, each train has a cab car on the end opposite the locomotive. TRE 1004 was such a car, which is part of the reason why the seating numbers are so low. It is also one of the cars equipped with a restroom. TRE documentation states their cars will seat between 123 and 152.
TRE 1004 is an ADA equipped car, with 12 seats near the entrance opposite the cab that can tilt up for wheelchair tiedown space. The restroom is spartan, but sizeable enough to allow a wheelchair passenger to get the job done.
TRE's Bombardier Bilevel cars rode reasonably well, with some noticeable sway at speed. I rode downstairs because I had several bags and was on my way to the airport. The windows were reasonably sized, with plenty of emergency windows. The seats weren't as comfy as the CRM cars, but I wasn't squirming terribly after my 40 minute ride.
Overall, I would consider the experience to be sufficient for commuting, but not as nice overall as the CRM coaches. Still, with the sheer volume of cars in service, Bombardier's Bilevel coach is the industry's standard-bearer.
Return to the DMU home page