This afternoon, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee (Wiener, Kim and Cohen) received an overview of the ongoing efforts between Caltrain and High Speed Rail to solve compatibility problems that could place longterm limits on the service provided by the “blended system.”
Encouraged by stakeholders at the corridor, city, state and federal level, Caltrain and High Speed Rail have recently started to work together on potential solutions for platform compatibility that could maximizeÂ the amount of service to the Transbay terminal (see diagram below), and reduce cost of planned shared stations at Millbrae and Diridon.
Until recently, Caltrain had been considering 25″ platforms, which are more common for local service, while High Speed Rail had been planning on ~50″ platforms, which are more common for high-speed long-distance service. Â High Speed Rail claims that the high platforms are required to support the speed needed for the service, and therefore the search for compatibility solutions focused on enabling Caltrain to use higher platforms, while still providing the capacity needed for peak hour commute service.
At the meeting, Supervisors Wiener and Cohen expressed frustration that it had taken until recently to make progress on compatibility, and gratitude that progress was eventually being made.
Dave Couch of Caltrain presented potential solutions that had been considered (see below), including current thinking about a potential workable solution. Caltrain could buy a set of electric rail cars with two sets of doors. Â Caltrain would use both doors during a migration period. Once all of the low platforms were replaced, Caltrain would close up the low doors. This solution would provide Caltrain with the train design that would provide needed capacity and service (bi-level cars that fit more passengers, fast-accelerating electric multiple units supporting speed on a corridor with many stations).
However, even with this approach Caltrain faces challenges with migrating to a compatible system. Â The initial plan for electrification provided funding to replace only 75% of the diesel cars – the remaining 25% would remain in service, and would be replaced later on. Â However, once the first platforms are upgraded to 50″, the old low-platform diesel trains couldn’t be used. Â Not to mention, in order to migrate, the platforms would need to be changed, and there is no funding to change the platforms.
Ben Tripousis of High Speed Rail followed with potential solutions to these funding challenges – he announced that High Speed Rail was considering contributing funding to the replacement of the full diesel fleet, and funding for platform changes, in order to achieve compatibility for the corridor, which would help Caltrain performance and cost-effectiveness in the short to medium term and High Speed Rail compatibility in the long term.
Supervisor Jane Kim reinforced the need to fund compatibility solutions, from the San Francisco perspective. “Achieving compatibility would raise Caltrain costs upfront, while providing greater value over time. The regional bodies will need to work together to raise the funding to achieve the value.”
More work will be needed to vet the various options. Â Caltrain and High Speed Rail will present options with tradeoffs for the consideration of boards (Caltrain, HSR, Transbay) and other funding partners. Decisions are expected to be made in the spring, including an updated funding agreement to pay for the solution.
I have a strong concern about the direction this is heading. While the SF politicians may have good intentions, the outcome could be very different.
Trains with doors at two different heights present operational and safety issues for bikes and wheelchair riders, especially if they are riding at a different height from the door height. There’s no safe and efficient bike storage solution for bi-level trains with high platforms. Rail systems that have such configuration have far more limited bike access than Caltrain.
Rail systems that have dual boarding height may eventually convert to all high platforms, but for various reasons have failed to do so and remained dual boarding height for decades. This includes most of the commuter rail systems in the East Coast (MBTA, Metro North, NJ Transit, SEPTA, as well as some light rail systems including Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and of course Muni Metro.
High Speed Rail may say that it could help fund this, but the reality is that HSR also have other priorities and just like everyone else needs more money. If saying this would somehow encourage Caltrain to adopt a standard favorable to HSR, that’s all HSR needs. We as transit advocates know that promises can be broken if money is tight.
If the intention is to raise platforms where it is not needed, the plan has to be consulted with Peninsula cities before any decision is made, and this may result in an environmental clearance process since many of the stations are historic. It is dangerous for SF to consider this in isolation from Peninsula communities and may appear as if SF is trying to impose its standard on Peninsula communities.
Did someone overlook the fact that something other than Caltrain or HSR may one day get to Transbay (oops?)
Btw, where do you find these high platforms for HSR?
At least in continental Europe there are not higher platforms for HSR service, they always use the 550/750mm (22/30″) used for other trains, but often don’t support level boarding. This is changing with trains like the TGV duplex or the new SBB trainsets, though.
I am extremely pleased that this issue is being given more attention.
Dave Couch of Caltrain was terrible at the hearing – he gave confusing and misleading answers to sensible questions asked by Jane Kim, and generally showed the lack of flexibility and unwillingness to find compromise that has characterized Caltrain’s approach before now. By comparison, it was good to hear the lead engineer for the Transbay JPA declare that he was strongly in favor of common platform heights at Transbay.
Ben Tripousis of CAHSR appeared to be in favor of Caltrain using a Stadler Kiss or similar design with doors at 25″ and 50″ inches, and for the shared platforms at Transbay and Millbrae to be 50″. That’s certainly a viable solution, but CAHSR should also be willing to investigate procuring high speed trains with doors at 25″ to make the transition easier on Caltrain. Why not issue a joint RFP for both sets of trains, without specifying a door height, but requiring that the door height be the same for both? Companies that make high speed trains usually make commuter trains as well, so let them figure out a height that works for both.
Whatever the solution, no solution is not an option. Incompatible platforms at Transbay and Millbrae will cripple Caltrain service far more than the compromises required to share platforms, such as having to use trains with two sets of doors at different heights.
There’s plenty of land in Millbrae for at least one more platform for HSR that doesn’t involve anything like tunnels and what not. Such platform can a pocket one like the one exists south of the station and do not necessarily have to be in parallel to BART. A two track shared stop is not realistic nor ideal since we cannot assume that HSR would operate just like Caltrain.
Again, the shared platform is really all about Transbay.
The key point is in understanding that while HSR train sets in Europe are low platform (550/750mm) compatible, very few provide level boarding. Some steps up (or in the case of a TGV duplex, down) are normally required, as are wheelchair lifts or ramps. This is not as much as an issue as it might seen, as HSR stops are, naturally, far less frequent than commuter runs, and dwell times are inevitably going to be longer due to the numbers of passengers with luggage. CAHSR should consider this option, perhaps with retractible steps, if they can’t choose low-floor equipment.
Caltrain is far better off sticking with 25″ doors (or something close to 25″ like 550 or 750mm) with true level boarding. No need for internal wheelchair elevators, carrying bikes up or down stairs inside the car, etc. If CAHSR needs to share platforms and tracks with Caltrain, they should make their equipment Caltrain-compatible, not vice-versa.
@Marc – because HSR is a new system, it is required by ADA to provide level boarding. Caltrain gets grandfathered in, HSR doesn’t get that option.
@Andy – Incompatible platform heights would make Millbrae more difficult and more expensive to retrofit for HSR service, although it wouldn’t be impossible. But anyway, if the drive for compatibility is all about Transbay, so what? The system is only as strong as the weakest point. Capacity constraints at Transbay will impact statewide HSR service and peninsula-wide Caltrain service.
[…] Supes Discuss Challenges in Building Compatible Platforms for Caltrain and CA High-Speed Rail (GC) […]
Level boarding is an outcome. The law doesn’t dictate which height or solutions to address additional clearance for freight, etc.
Technology and laws change as well. Just a few years ago, SMART and RTD in Denver committed to high floor, high platform, FRA compliant solution for rail. In the case of SMART, it is doing so to avoid potential temporal separation with freight, which I don’t think was currently running. To meet the freight clearance standard, it is employing gauntlet tracks, which means larger stations.
Unsightly high platform: http://goo.gl/maps/QAe0K
Neighborhood friendly low platform: http://goo.gl/maps/zYBG4
At that time, no one thought anyone could challenge the FRA, but now FRA is drafting alternative compliance policy, which Caltrain has helped to advocate and has received a waiver for. So if SMART is being planned now, should SMART instead choose low floor alternative compliance vehicles instead of the the technology it is choosing?
The story about HSR must use the 50″ standard because of lack of vehicle availability is like talking about high platform for Muni Metro in 1970s because of lack of low floor LRTs.
As for Millbrae, the station is along the main line so it is highly desirable to add and separate the platforms. Even if it chooses 50″ platform for themselves they will have no compatibility issues with freight if it has a dedicated platform track at Millbrae (since there will be no freight to contend with at Transbay and San Jose).
I am glad the options are finally on the table and being discussed seriously.
If HSR had any sense they would be procuring trainsets with boarding at 760 mm, the direction that Europe is (eventually) going. Because such a train does not yet exist, it undermines their requirement for something service-proven– besides cutting large portions of the supplier base (Japan, China) entirely out of the running. If HSR insists on a service-proven train, then there is no other option but high floors. And insist they do. So all the wishful thinking about HSR procuring low-floor trains is just that: wishful thinking. It’s not going to happen, so stop pretending it will, and move on already.
ADA level-boarding requirements, unlike in Europe, force the platform to match the car floor.
Where you need to be, mentally, is here: HSR will use 51″ platforms. Period. If you can’t get past that, you’re not contributing to the discussion.
While this is primarily a Transbay issue, it is not solely a Transbay issue. The incremental cost of a dual-boarding-level Caltrain fleet are in the tens of millions of dollars. The incremental costs of building segregated platforms at Millbrae, Redwood City and San Jose (an entire second deck with miles of approach viaducts!!) are in the hundreds of millions to billions of dollars.
Subject to the contraint of HSR at 51 inches, a dual boarding level solution is Caltrain’s best path towards the desirable outcome of 100% level boarding.
@Jon – It looks like DOT can approve alternate means of compliance with the rules “Where level boarding is not structurally or operationally practicable”. See 49 CFR 38.111(b)(2) and 38.125. Using retractable steps and lifts to facilitate platform sharing with commuter rail at a few stations would seem to fit, as long as dedicated HSR stations/platforms allow level boarding.
@Andy – do you seriously think that the high platform you linked to is “unsightly” compared to the low platform you linked to, and that this is what should be driving the vehicle procurement process? The peninsula cities have been complaining about everything they can think of regarding HSR and Caltrain modernization, but to my knowledge, no one apart from you has ever claimed that we should rule out 50″ platforms on aesthetic grounds but 25″ platforms are just fine.
What I am seeing is two engineering teams trying to push their problem onto Caltrain engineering staff. Instead of thinking about alternative design and finding solutions, TJPA is pushing its design problem onto Caltrain. CHSRA, a very political vulnerable agency (if Brown hadn’t gotten reelected, the whole agency could go away) with plans years if not decades down the road, is trying to make a promise to get Caltrain to go along, but a promise that can be broken.
I don’t really care which height CHSRA chooses, but since 51″ cannot provide a safe access for bikes and wheelchair riders, and create issues in communities with no added values, it is not a suitable height for Caltrain. If CHSRA is not a factor, is there any other reason to go 51″. If CHSRA creates another “mandate” like it tried in 2009, would it make Peninsula communities to go against the blended plan just so that the CHSRA factor would go away, along with 51″? Some people already fed up with the loss of trees due to electrification. Do you think that they like to hear that every station along the line would get torn out and rebuilt something that they may not like? Why not pile it on with grade separation and 4 tracking. This idea of adding mandate is against the spirit of the blended system compromise.
As I have explained in other posts, dual boarding height is likely a permanent solution and not a interim steps, since it is operationally undesirable to have bikes and wheelchair riders in a level different than the door level.
From a political perspective, the 51″ standard is easier to change than FRA requirements, which were thought to be untouchable.
I am against Caltrain going 51″ for a variety of reasons, with aesthetic as one of them. 25″ height can be a problem as well, since I’ve seen the controversy in downtown San Jose regarding light rail platform change years ago. But treating two different heights as essentially the same is not only naive (why aren’t other systems like Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Portland, and San Jose adopt high platforms from the get go before low floor LRTs), but 51″ height also make the transition path less than graceful especially in the event that platform reconstruction is delay or canceled due to budget concerns or community opposition.
“If CHSRA is not a factor”? Umm, hello? Half the money for Caltrain electrification comes from CHSRA. And here you go wishing they would just disappear, with all the trouble they’re causing for Caltrain? This parochial take-the-money-and-run attitude is the perfect recipe for failure of the blended system. You seem to be in denial, even as Caltrain staff are finally starting to pay attention (better late than never) to the critically important issues of system compatibility. This is real, and these pressing decisions can’t be taken lightly.
Let’s recalibrate a couple of points.
The cost to rebuild a platform for level boarding at 25″ is roughly the same as the cost to rebuild a platform for level boarding at 51″, about $5 million. The community disruption from construction is similar for both, regardless of height–those 24 inches don’t make for a different construction method. Caltrain enjoys a steady funding stream to rebuild station platforms, having redone no fewer than thirty-seven in the past 15 years, on a case-by-case basis. There is no plausible reason why this funding stream would suddenly dry up, even less so as CHSRA considers adding some of their own money to it.
You still haven’t made a convincing case for why Caltrain could seamlessly convert to 100% level boarding at 25″ with a low-entry EMU, while we would remain stuck with a mish-mash of 8″ and 51″ platforms in the case of dual boarding heights on the vehicles. Is it perhaps that you think some platforms would be rebuilt for level boarding at only 25″, perpetuating the dual-height situation forever? That can’t and won’t be, since the low-entry doors would be configured exclusively for 8″ platforms exactly as the Bombardiers already are. Even if the vehicle floor is at 25″, you cannot serve a mix of both 8″ and 25″ stations without some sort of moveable step mechanism– which nobody has planned for so far, least of all Caltrain. So please, tell us, what is this invisible force field that would prevent level boarding at 51″ but allow level boarding at 25″?
Your arguments against 51″ just don’t stack up against the cost of Caltrain being permanently capacity-constrained at Transbay. Comparing to San Jose light rail is wrong and irrelevant– we need Caltrain to have much greater capacity to serve dense areas, much like the Paris RER. And that means level boarding at the same height as HSR, built right into the core of that growing forest of skyscrapers.
CHSRA is not a private company nor it is their own money (it is really the state’s money). CHSRA board is a political board and their position can change. The last board was so gung ho about 4 tracking. I bet that you would’ve side with that board as well and tell cities up and down the Peninsula to accept 4 tracking like you’re telling us to accept 51″ platform. You don’t seem to give the same concern on CHSRA staff regarding their 51″ decision as on Caltrain staff.
You’ve completely dismissed the dwell time impact and safety issue regarding bike access with high platforms. That’s why even if a dual height alternative is chosen there’s no reason to use 51″ platform in Burlingame. If all the stations use 51″ platform, then all the bikes will have to go up and down the steps at every stop, putting dwell time back where level boarding is supposed to eliminate. If it is just for Transbay, the impact would be minimal since Transbay is a terminal stop. Bikers can be directed not to move the bikes until the train has completely stopped, which is something that cannot be done at intermediate stops.
Because of the freight train issue, along with dynamic envelope issue with non-stop trains, there’s a chance that some kind of mechanical device will be needed to bridge the gap anyway, even at your favorite 51″ height, and that decision and design may take years. At this point, vehicles can be provisioned for such devices but would have to be added in the future.
The discussion should be equal in terms of the burden staff have the undertake to come up with solutions to maximize capacity. Shouldn’t CHSRA do more to justify if not change its position and TJPA to come up with alternative designs to allow flexible usage, then evaluate different options? If the idea is to gang up on Caltrain and trying to impose a standard that Caltrain and its communities don’t need, then it will be 2009 all over again.
There will be no bike/wheelchair issue if Caltrain choose single level EMU with 51 inch floor height. Just run longer train and/or more frequently to handle the capacity requirement. (We will be happy to see more frequent train!) Frequent Caltrain means longer 4-track section requirement when HSR start running but CAHSR will pay for this.
For the record, here’s everything I have to say about bikes on board EMUs with dual height boarding. I’ve brought my bike on Caltrain hundreds of times and I don’t think it will adversely affect dwells.
The ADA / freight issues will require a deployable gap-filler / bridge plate arrangement no matter what the height is. Caltrain staff as of a few months ago was still laboring under two illusions, which may finally be dispelled:
(1) Caltrain thought they could procure 25″ floor EMUs with a path to level boarding at 25″ by simply “welding plates over the step” once the transition to level boarding was complete. (The transition itself was hand-waved away as something nebulous involving “construction staging”.) That was wrong. Passing a 25″ platform at speed is no different than passing a 51″ platform at speed, when your maximum gap at rest needs to be just 3″. You have to have a bigger gap to pass higher platforms at speed–whether at 25″ or 51″–and you have to bridge it with something deploying from the train when stopped. Caltrain is hardly the first railroad to discover this conundrum, so it certainly isn’t something that staff needs to “study for years”. It is a commonly available feature in all the latest Euro EMUs as you can see for yourself in the videos linked here. And it wasn’t even remotely on Caltrain’s radar, because they had no level boarding strategy other than a bunch of lip service to the idea of it.
(2) Caltrain thought (and still appears to think) that they can retain the Bombardier fleet, which has a lower floor at 25″, with level boarding platforms at 25″. The only problem with this idea is that there is no reasonable way to transition that fleet from 8″ to 25″ platforms. What they may now understand, for both the EMUs and the existing Bombardiers, is that to operate the fleet through a multi-year transition where some platforms may be at 8″ and other platforms may be at 25″, you need a deployable step halfway between those heights. Any other way around this transition problem is either unworkable or more complicated and expensive.
Once you come to this realization, that the transition to level boarding at 25″ involves significant complication to the vehicles, then the dual height solution for 51″ no longer looks like such a crazy contraption. I’m not sure you’ve understood that yet because your frame of reference is VTA light rail.
The reality is finally dawning that the vehicles are the key to a successful transition to level boarding, and if Caltrain procures a new EMU fleet without planning for level boarding first, then we won’t have level boarding for another 35 years until those EMUs are retired.
This is hands down the most important technical study that Caltrain has undertaken for the past decade, and I hope they don’t punt on it. You’re way too soft on them, and the only “burden staff have to undertake” should be to do their job. Poor staff!
Andy does raise a valid concern. If bikes/wheelchair users still end up having to climb stairs, then what is the point of spending billions of dollars on this project? Moving the steps (and wheelchair lifts) from outside the train to inside is a step backwards (no pun intended).
One solution is to find a bi-level design that has a large enough vestibule area that serve as a multi-purpose storage area for bikes/luggage/wheelchairs/standees. Something similar to the Sydney Waratah train. I don’t know if there is an exact European equivalent, but Paris RER trains also have very large vestibules (where I have on more than one occasion hauled luggage, bike, etc).
As for backwards-compatibility to legacy 8″ platforms, I don’t think it would be feasible to add lower doors to such a bi-level design. But then again, I think the idea of having a separate set of lower doors is idiotic and can’t believe it is being seriously considered.
Iâ€™ve brought my bike on Caltrain hundreds of times and I donâ€™t think it will adversely affect dwells.
So have I, and I think it will adversely affect dwells. This is unlike the current situation where one is carrying a bike up/down stairs into a wide vestibule, instead the bike will be carried in an enclosed stair area half the width of the car, which will likely allow only one person to carry a bike up or down at a time.
One solution is to find a bi-level design that has a large enough vestibule area that serve as a multi-purpose storage area for bikes/luggage/wheelchairs/standees.
Bike storage currently takes up most of the lower decks of 2 of the 5 cars in a Bombardier set, and half of the lower decks in 2 of 5 cars of a Gallery set, and there are still complaints that this isn’t enough capacity. A large enough vestibule to provide reasonable bike storage, even if the storage space is distributed through more cars, will leave very little room for upper and lower decks with actual seating. And if every car has a smaller amount of bike storage, you’ll get people trudging up/down inside steps and between cars with bikes, when they find the car they boarded has no storage left. For wheelchair accommodation, if there are any restrooms at all on the train, they will have to be in the same vestibules, again leaving little space for upper/lower deck seating once you allow space for stairs.
As far as I can see, the only truly sensible way to go with level boarding on 51″ platforms is to not use duplex cars at all. Then, along with a platform height transition strategy, you also need to figure out how to rebuild all of the existing stations to handle 10+ car trains.
For wheelchair accommodation, if there are any restrooms at all on the train, they will have to be in the same vestibules…
Yet another reason not to waste valuable space with on-board bathrooms. If BART can manage without on-board bathrooms, then so can Caltrain.
@Drunk: Waratahs and RERs sure are nice, but they offer no transition path from 8″ platforms. First, accept the reality that HSR is locked in to 51″ platforms. (I am amazed at how many people still hold out hope for something else!) Now what? Do you permanently cripple Caltrain’s access to San Francisco by going with some other platform height? Or if you join the dark side at 51″, then how do you transition if not with a dual boarding height Frankentrain? It’s the only approach that allows a piece-meal station-by-station as-funding-becomes-available transition to HSR-compatible level boarding. I will concede that it’s real easy to shoot this concept full of holes when you don’t propose a realistic alternative for dealing with 51″ HSR compatibility. What’s your better plan?
@Marc: a stairway half the width of the car is about 4 feet wide. The three steps would not be steep, because they run along the length of the train, and they could be fitted on both sides with wheel gutters. I really don’t know what the fuss is about.
As for finding space in the vestibule areas, best of luck with that. It’s why Stadler’s Aeroexpress EMU (bi-level, 51″ platforms) has the accessible toilet on the lower level, with an in-vehicle lift (see this video at 2:08). A lot of these other examples are also DC traction, having no transformer cabinets in the vestibules. A large number of bikes won’t fit in the vestibules, and if that’s a show-stopper I would suggest that it might time to put a damper on bikes-on-board. (I know, heresy!) There’s a good reason no other operator in the world offers as much bike access as Caltrain: it limits capacity.
@Drunk Engineer – When Caltrain makes a commitment to having and maintaining public restrooms in every single one of their 29 stations (as opposed to the 2 or 3 they have now), it might make sense to discuss dropping them from the trains.
@Clem – The only real world model I have to work with is the Bombardier cars, the internal stairs are half the width of the car, and it is impossible for one person to pass another on the stairs, unless one flattens themselves against the wall. With a bike, only one person at a time is going up or down a set of stairs at a time, gutter or not. I stopped bringing a bike on Caltrain several years ago, as it was just getting too unwieldy, forcing the use of stairs inside the car does not improve the situation. To be honest, though, bikes simply aren’t going away on Caltrain (or BART).
I’ll admit to having an agenda here, if I could take HSR today, I might board 10 trains per year, I board Caltrain 300+ times per year. From my selfish perspective, hobbling Caltrain with poorly laid out cars for the sake of HSR is a bad tradeoff…
Bombardier car stairs are one third the width of the car (less than 3 feet), and not one half. See layout diagram of a similar car. I agree this would be unworkable for bikes. I suppose you could even engineer an EMU so the steps to the lower level are two-thirds the width of the car… six feet wide!
@Clem – You are correct, the stairs to the upper deck lead to the center aisle, not off to the side as I incorrectly visualized. That does allow 7 or 8 more seats per car than would be possible if the stairs occupied the full width, plus adequate width for accessible restrooms. The narrow stairs are a problem in bicycle cars, non-biking passengers line up on the stairs to get off at busy stations, which interferes with bikers who are late in going down for their bicycles.
And the winner is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_platform_height#mediaviewer/File:Map_Europe_railway_platform_height.svg
Good. Now that this is settled (22 inches is 3 inches closer to level boarding than the existing Bombardiers) we can start focusing on the main issue: increasing Caltrain capacity but, before we do that, here is a quick HSR update.
The root cause of the platform compatibility issues was apparently caused by our CHSRA partners overlooking the fact that they had to update their Very High Speed (VHS) train specification when they adopted the blended system back in 2012, so we pointed Mr. Tripousis to the V300Zefiro/ETR 1000/Frecciarossa 1000 as examples. These trains have the same width as the existing Caltrain rolling stock and have door entrances optimized for 550mm (22 inch) & 760mm (30 inch) platforms. Incidentally, not only will the Frecciarossa 1000 be the fastest train in service in Europe but it is also widely acknowledged as the most beautiful train in the World: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8HBjYQZh0E
Going back to the Caltrain capacity issue, the Bombardier OMNEO platform blows away the passenger per foot competition (NOTE TO MANUFACTURERS: IF YOU DISAGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. PLEASE CONTACT FRIENDS@FRIENDSOFCALTRAIN.COM)
Introduction video: note level boarding at every door courtesy of a bridge plate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnEUoi2qV5w
Available 3+2 configuration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLta-fYSVtQ
Wheelchair test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isY1XMGhd20&feature=player_detailpage#t=38
On the face of it, the OMNEO checks all the boxes (including the toilets) but what about bikes? Going back to the brochure, the only logical place is the lower deck in the double-deck end car, which is the only module with a floor one step away from being level with the entrance doors, specifically the area with the blue seats (8 rows at the top of the picture and 9 rows at the bottom). Here is what it looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Yx_NKUlfOjE#t=105.
Trashing the staircase on the right and the luggage rack on the left would have the following advantages:
– Elimination of conflicts between foot passengers and bicycles (single set of stairs at the opposite end of the car)
– Sub-30-second dwell times by enabling simultaneous bicycle exit and boarding
– Addition of 5 seats on the upper deck in the area previously occupied by the staircase
The final touch would be to convert the single step to a ramp or raise the entire floor by one step all the way to the bottom step at the other end of the car.
The only other part of the train floor level with the doors is the wheelchair vestibule and the ADA toilet in the other end car (total 4 wheel chairs + seating area for companions)
Merry Xmas everyone!!!
@Roland: the FrecciaRossa 1000 (Bombardier Zefiro) has 50 inch floors like nearly every other single-level HST on the market. The “optimization” for 550 mm and 760 mm platforms consists of special devices known as “steps”.
Repost (fast forward 1:40): https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ITFpZLuaDgs#t=100
Benvenuti a bordo, Roland!
View for yourself the nice interior step (yellowish color) right inside the 760 mm door threshold. Looks like a 970 mm floor, so only about 40 inches.
On second thought, the industrial steps are probably 25 cm each, so the deployable step (just below the door sill) would be at 760 mm, the door sill at 980 mm (a shade over the wheel diameter) and the floor at 1200 mm. Suspiciously close to 50 inches!
The “deployable step (just below the door sill)” is for the 550mm platforms. See InnoTrans hostess for scale as she walks by the doors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Z8HBjYQZh0E#t=14
For what it’s worth, according to Wikipedia the floor heights for both the Frecciarossa 1000 and Zefiro 300 are 1240 mm (48.8 inches).
That settles it, then. The Zefiro, like almost every other high-speed EMU (Velaro, AGV, all manner of Shinkansen and CRH) uses a traditional high-floor vehicle architecture. The only exceptions to the high-floor rule are the Talgo Avril (not an EMU) and the Stadler EC250 (too slow). Look, Tripousis & co. have a valid point when they say low-floor HSR is an odd duck.
This presentation explains why Bombardier developed the V300 version of the Zefiro: http://www.apta.com/mc/rail/program/Documents/ChamberlandR_Integrating-World-Class-HSR-Equipment.pdf
– “UIC clearance gauge” means UIC 505-1 (same as the existing Bombardier railcars) which makes it possible for the V300 to travel across most of Europe (and California) without hitting anything
– “TSI compliant” includes TSI-PRM (Persons with Reduced Mobility) http://www.era.europa.eu/Document-Register/Documents/Draft_PRM_TSI_version_2.0.pdf
Conclusion: The V300 Zefiro is CURRENTLY the only VHS train in the world compatible with the Bombardier OMNEO and pretty much everything else in Europe (and California): https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=iNxgksFNGZk#t=19.
Now that this is settled, can we turn the conversation to how we are going to maximize Caltrain EMU seat, toilet, wheelchair and bike capacity and get to sub-30-second dwell times everywhere, including Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Mountain View?
This presentation explains why Bombardier developed the V300 version of the Zefiro: http://www.apta.com/mc/rail/program/Documents/ChamberlandR_Integrating-World-Class-HSR-Equipment.pdf
– â€œUIC clearance gaugeâ€ means UIC 505-1 (same as the existing Bombardier railcars) which ensures that these trains can travel in most of Europe (and California) without hitting anything.
– â€œTSI compliantâ€ includes TSI-PRM (Persons with Reduced Mobility): http://www.era.europa.eu/Document-Register/Documents/Draft_PRM_TSI_version_2.0.pdf
Conclusion: until proven otherwise, the V300 Zefiro is currently the only VHS train capable of blending seamlessly with dozens of other European EMUs and pretty much anything else: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNxgksFNGZk&feature=player_detailpage#t=20
Now that this is settled, can we turn the conversation to how we are going to maximize Caltrain seat, toilet, bike and wheelchair EMU capacity in an equitable way and achieve sub-30-second dwell times at every station including Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Mountain View?
@Clem and others: Starting from the AeroExpress: This train has 6 cars: 2 cab cars, 2 motor cars, 2 standard cars, where the motor cars are shorter.
With 51″ platform/door height, it would be possible for the cab cars and the standard cars to have extra-wide doors (allowing 3 people passing at the same time) above the bogies providing a vestibule and then stairs up and down to the floors. It has been shown that such a configuration has shorter dwell times than a configuration with two doors (even extra wide) on the lower floor. (I am referring to the extensive studies the SBB did for the S-Bahn ZÃ¼rich).
If the motor cars are kept shorter, it would be possible to make them single level, 51″ all the way. This would provide ample space for bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers, accessible toilets, etc. etc.
Therefore, it is possible to build a reasonable semi-bi-level EMU for Caltrain using 51″ floor and platform height.
@Roland, please. Your references fail to support any of your claims. The Zefiro is a high-floor train that (under US ADA level boarding regulations) would not have the same platform interface as a Bombardier Omneo train, which has so far only been built for 550 mm with steps into the vehicle. You could make a high-platform Omneo, but the transition story from 8-inch platforms is difficult and would likely require… two sets of doors!
@Max: the Omneo is a type of semi-bilevel train.
@Clem: Indeed, the Regio2N has the same base ideas.
FWIW, if I remember correctly, this is the reason why the SNCF had to “adjust” the platforms at several stations, because there was some “interference” (in other words, the platforms too high or too close to the track)â€¦
Interesting is that a “door” unit (10 m) plus a “coach” unit (15 m) together have approximately about the same length as a “regular” bi-level car (25 m). The shorter carbodies, however, allow a wider vehicle, making it possible to squeeze in a 5th seat in the “commuter ” configuration.
However, a rather serious flaw of the Regio2N design for commuter use is that the upper level is accessible from only one side, creating (percepted) long ways to reach the doors.
About bicycles: they have nothing lost in the “car” section; they have to remain in the entrance sections (which, in a Caltrain version, could be lengthened).
@Max: Regio 2N bi-level sections have stairs on BOTH ends: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Yx_NKUlfOjE#t=174
As mentioned by others, putting bikes in lengthened â€œdoorâ€ sections is likely to cause conflicts between bikes and other passengers trying to get on/off the trains. This is the reason I suggested trashing the front staircase in the front cab car (to turn the front door behind the cab into a â€œbikes onlyâ€ door). This would have the additional advantage of allowing simultaneous loading/unloading of bikes which is the only way we will ever get to sub-30-second dwell times. One last point is that we need to keep the â€œdoorâ€ sections as short as possible because they are single-level, so a potential solution could be a single stretched door section mid-train for wheelchairs if we end up needing space for bikes in the other cab car in which case both cab cars would be bi-level.
@Clem: The Omneo is available in 550, 760 and 920mm configurations but the Regio 2N has 600 mm floors. THERE ARE NO STEPS INTO ANY VEHICLES: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=UnEUoi2qV5w#t=46
Different boarding heights (920mm in UK and Ireland) are achieved by swapping the cab and the door cars but the coach cars are identical regardless of the boarding height.
Going back to the Frecciarossa 1000, here are 2 close shots of the PRM (wheelchair) coach. The first picture shows the entire coach with a standard door on the right and the PRM door in the background:
Looking at the standard door you can clearly see the bottom hinge strap for the 550mm platform step. The next picture is a close shot of the PRM door with the blue handicapped sign next to the door opening button on the left.
As you can see, this door has a much higher threshold (because it is level with the floor in the PRM section) AND HAS NO STEPS.
Roland, I’m still not sure what makes the Frecciarossa different than any other high-floor EMU. There is a hinged step with a hinge line that looks to be about 750 mm, certainly well above the axles. Then there is the door sill, a step above that. Inside the door, there is yet another step up to the actual vehicle floor. So from a 550 mm platform to your seat, there are one, two, three steps up.
In California, remember that HSR is mandated to have zero steps from the platform to your seat. This is not on the negotiating table.
Earlier you wrote that the Frecciarossa was a good solution, but I must ask, what problem would it solve?
The Frecciarossa 1000 was designed specifically to avoid the kinds of problems listed in this excellent blog post: http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/2014/10/level-boarding-plan-b.html
Happy New Year!!!
@Roland: A few things:
â€¢ According to the drawings in the official fliers by Bombardier, the upper levels have one stair, aiming towards the door carbody.
â€¢ A personal note: bicycles are an annoyance in any case (and bicyclists even more, after I have seen one riding his precious on the lower floor of a ZÃ¼rich S-Bahn bi-level, from one platform to the other, or their typical habit to block stairs and doors. If you want 30 seconds dwell times at “normal” hours, ban the bicycles.
â€¢ once more, a “door” section plus a “coach” section have together the same length as a regular 25.6 m car. The reason for the shorter section articulated configuration is that this allows for wider carbodies, allowing to squeeze in 5 abreast in the RER configuration. With a high-platform configuration (the doors above the bogies), you’d have about the same space at entrance level if you compare the Regio 2N with the Talbot/Schindler type bi-level car. The advantage of a single-level “door” section is the flexibility of the floor level; you can essentially set it to any level you need, and still have enough space for the technical equipment, either underfloor or in the roof section (yes, you still need space for a transformer, converters, air conditioners, signalling equipment etc.)
â€¢ The “great” thing with low-floor entrance bi-levels is that the space between the doors can be set up as a “multi-purpose” section, accomodating wheelchairs (including the huge “accessible” toilet, bicycles, short-distance standees, etc.).
â€¢ I never would allow bicyclists immediately behind the cab. Even with good crash standards, the escape for the engineer is back into the car, and you can be sure that bicyclists will block the doorway to the cab. And, because the equipment is now concentrated in the single-floor sections, there are no equipment cabinets behind the cab anymore.
â€¢ Conclusion: if we have to accommodate bicyclists in masses, the configuration of the Regio 2N as is will not work well. A configuration of individual bi-level cars with at least one set of extra wide doors at platform height and (maybe somewhat shorter) single level cars with two extra wide doors and a “multip-purpose section between the doors will work better.
â€¢ About the Bombardier Zefiro: Sorry to rain into your party: until I noticed the “wheelchair” sticker besides that door, I thought it is the service door for the restaurant/catering. In fact, this door is essentially part of the standard component catalog at Bombardier, and has been in existence for more than a decade in the ICN tilting trains. Yes, it is at (high) floor level, and for loading wheelchairs, they are using a wheelchair lift belonging to the platform (something which is very common practice all over continental Europe). In the continental European intercity network there are no high level platforms allowing level access to (high-floor) single level cars. Higher platforms do exist on dedicated S-Bahn/RER lines served only by dedicated rolling stock.
â€¢ If you want a more innovative design for wheelchair accessibility in a fast train (249 km/h class), then you’d better look at the EC250 by Stadler Rail: http://www.stadlerrail.com/en/vehicles/ec250/ . This train offers unaided wheelchair acces from 55 cm and 76 cm platforms.
@Roland: you’ll notice that my blog post includes a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of any given solution. Perhaps you could explain in a few paragraphs on why and how the Frecciarossa 1000 would avoid the kinds of problems I listed in my blog post. For example, do you really think FRA would let HSR use platforms that are lower than the car floor, i.e. no level boarding, just like in Europe? I don’t think so.
@Max: Sorry you could not find the stairs in the brochure. This video may help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Yx_NKUlfOjE#t=191
@Roland: I stand corrected (one should read the complete drawing); of course, in the floorplans, the stairs are visible at both ends of the upper level, in all configurations. One thing which is “typically French” is that the stairs are one third wide (as opposed to the “Schindler type” bi-level, where the stairs are half wide, and allow better traffic).
So, I take back the comment about the stairsâ€¦
Interesting, that other document you mention for Clem. Essentially all they need for being “accessible” is a 8″ platform. This would still need some mechanical device, either in the vehicle, or provided by the station, to get wheelchairs in. (the only vehicle I am aware of, where level boarding is possible with 8″ platforms is the Siemens ULF light rail car, which is in use in Wien.) However, with the typical light rail low floor vehicles, a fold out ramp would be sufficient for 8″ platforms. But that’s light rail.
The typical (European) heavy rail low-floor vehicles are set for 55 cm. For 8″ platforms, a fold-out or push-out step would be necessary in any case; for wheelchairs, it depends on how long the fold out ramp can be, and it may not work for motorized wheelchairs anyway.
@Roland: look up 49 CFR Part 38.175
HSR “shall be designed for high-platform, level boarding”
What part of this sentence do you find ambiguous?
@Clem – With utmost respect for your knowledge in this area, may I remind you that as late as 6 months ago you were also apparently unaware of 49 CFR Part 38.175:
The requirement that HSR cars “shall be designed for high-platform, level boarding”, does not necessarily prohibit providing alternative compliance mechanisms for operations (under an approved waiver, I assume) at specific mixed-use low platform stations. Has anyone at CHSRA bothered to ask the FRA, or are they just too busy with other things?
Sadly, I see odd-duck high platform duplex EMUs to be a quite unfortunate compromise for the sake of “platform compatibility”. If the fine folks in MP, PA, etc., can be convinced to allow their platforms to be extended to support 10 to 12 car trains, great, Caltrain should go with high floor single-level EMUs (although the cost of that will likely be a push for more conductors). Otherwise, I, for one, would consider it cheaper and better to simply live with the consequences of segregated platforms.
@Marc: I don’t see how 30″ platforms would be non-compliant with 49CFR38.175. It’s the ideal compromise height for blended level boarding, not too high for Caltrain and not too low for HSR. In an ideal world this would be Plan A.
HSR certainly seem to think that 30″ is too low based on their insistence for procuring ten-year-old train designs. I don’t think they will bend one inch on this, which is why I am advocating Plan B (dual height Caltrain boarding with eventual transition to 100% high). It’s not as good as Plan A, which I readily acknowledge. But it’s better than segregated infrastructure, both in terms of operational flexibility and capital cost. That is where I disagree with you or Andy or Roland.
@Marc: Thank you for pointing us to http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2001-title49-vol1/pdf/CFR-2001-title49-vol1-sec38-175.pdf which applies to DEDICATED high speed lines and SPECIFICALLY excludes freight.
Hopefully that settles the matter once and for all and we can go back to more pressing issues like how we are going to get 200,000 people (100,000 from the Peninsula + 100,000 from the East Bay) in and out of Transbay every weekday?