18 May 2014

Big Fat EMU

Look at what is quickly taking shape in Stadler's Altenrhein factory in Switzerland:
Welded aluminum shell of a cab car Front cab shell at right Intermediate car, after paint
This is the huge double-deck, extra-wide, high-platform EMU for Moscow's airport train.  In a 25 kV version with an extra (temporary) pair of doors on the lower deck, these would make an ideal tool for gradually transforming Caltrain from a 20th century diesel commuter train into a fast, high-capacity level-boarding system fully compatible with high-speed rail.

Maybe if those trade sanctions kick in, they won't have anywhere to go?


  1. The Swiss will likely not participate in any EU or US sanctions against Russia. So these trains are unlikely to become stranded in Switzerland.

    That said, this is and always has been a fantastic idea. These trains are 3400mm wide, which is very similar to some of the off-the-shelf Shinkansen rolling stock, many of which range between 3350 and 3385mm.

    Of course, since Stadler took an existing design and widened it to Russian specs, other manufacturers could certainly do the same for Caltrain. But the fact that Stadler already has an off-the-shelf design can only drive costs down, not up. As anybody who has ever ridden on one of the wider Shinkansen trains will tell you, wider trans are pretty much indisputably better. 2+2 configurations are superbly roomy, and even 3+2 configurations are perfectly servicable for most situations.

    1. Russian suburban trains have 3+3 seating, and even that is perfectly doable (and feels roomier than 3+2 on the MBTA bilevels).

  2. Looks very promising. Stadler should get it.

    1. Not going to happen.

      1. Buy American. Buy high price, buy low quality.

      2. LTK Engineering Services, Inc. Contract will go to the company that needs the greatest LTK follow-up "advice" on designing, building, testing trains. See: SMART.

      Note Stadler was not represented at Caltrain's recent "CalMod Industry Day". Titans in Industry such as VTA's Jim Lawson and CHSRA's Tripousis were there, alongside all the squirmy wriggling mass bottom feeders from ARUP, AECOM, Balfour Beatty, PBQD, STV, Atkins, R Systems, Hatch Mott, PTG, HNTB, CH2M, AEI, Jacobs, but no Stadler Rail. Sumitomo, Altsom, Siemens, Kawasaki, yes. No Bombardier, either, oddly.

      It's not rail engineering that wins contracts. It is "contract engineering" and kickbackery. No bright red Swiss trains for you! Please to be enjoying finest stainless steel LTK specifications.

  3. Speaking about the width of trains, France just discovered a problem requiring platforms to be modified:



    1. The bad part is that it happened and what it says about RFF. ("C’est d’abord le résultat d’une organisation qui est plus le résultat de nombreux compromis en commençant par politiques que de l’efficacité cohérente du métier de l’organisation industrielle performante." ... "Un deuxième niveau de réflexion est sur la qualité des hommes et des équipes." ... etc)

      The mitigation is that platform improvements are due anyway, if not forced at this rate. And consider that the mooted EUR50m of immediate work required, nation-wide, for immediate platform fixes wouldn't even pay for Caltrain to write the RFQ to develop proposals to set a timetable to study the train-platform interface at its grand total of 26 stations.

      PS Please no Tory Terrorgraph links! There are children reading.

    2. No Daily Torygraph links, there are adults reading.

    3. Eh, the Torygraph is at least a serious newspaper, sort of. But Americans who do not know much about British media - like, say, most of my Facebook feed - sometimes share stories from the Daily Heil as if it were a real newspaper.

    4. While this is definitely fodder for the press, the costs involved are fairly minuscule. Caltrain spent $35 million to gussy up all of two stations in Palo Alto. I could imagine that it would cost them at least $4 million to redo just one platform.

      That puts the tab for level boarding at roughly $250 million - one sixth of the electrification project. Remember level boarding provides half the trip time benefit of electrification, so a sixth of the cost ain't too shabby even at our inflated prices.

      And remember, Caltrain knows a thing or two about building lots of platforms-- they've totally rebuilt at least fifty platforms in the last 20 years. That tally would actually make a fun post...

    5. Blah, this all looks like a controlled hysteria to support recent proposal for re-merging infrastructure owner and train operator back into single company - http://www.globalrailnews.com/2013/10/17/french-rail-reform-bill-announced/
      AFAIK, there is total around 8000 platforms in France, and only 1300 aren't compatible with new trains, and they are to be rebuild anyway (they violates network-wide loading gauge, accepted 30 years ago), and trains are due to start revenue service in 2016...

  4. Clem,
    you really have a bee in your bonnet about this, don't you?

    Why don't you advocate Russian track gauge, too? It's equally nonsensical and equally fantastic (in the original sense).