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A Caltrain Bombardier BiLevel Coach.

mliu92 from San Mateo [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The interior of a Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner Bombardier BiLevel coach.

Bombardier BiLevel Coach
The Bombardier BiLevel Coach is a bilevel passenger railcar designed to carry up to 360 passengers for commuter railways. These carriages are easily identifiable: they are double-decked and are shaped like elongated octagons.

The BiLevel coaches were designed by Toronto's regional commuter rail service, GO Transit and Hawker Siddeley Canada in the mid-1970s as a more efficient replacement for GO's original single-deck coaches and cab cars. Later coaches were manufactured by Urban Transportation Development Corporation/Can-Car and finally Bombardier, who now owns the designs and manufacturing facility. There are more than seven hundred such coaches in service today and almost all have been built at the company's Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Plattsburgh, New York, plants.

The coaches feature an aluminum body on a steel frame. They are 15 ft 11 in (4.85 m) high and 9 ft 10 in (3.00 m) wide, and weigh about 61,000 kg (134,000 lb). Depending on car design and seating configuration, seats are available for between 136 and 162 passengers, along with standing room. All newly built coaches now feature a washroom on the lower level; the original coaches for GO Transit have the washroom on the intermediate level in the same location where the cab is located in cab cars (see below). The coaches have two pairs of doors on each side which allow the entire coach to be emptied in 90 seconds. Some of the newer coaches have electrical outlets for laptop computers and other devices along with small tables.

One major variant is the cab car. The cab car is placed at the end of the train and features a full cab built into the end of the coach, from which the train's locomotive can be remotely controlled. This allows for push–pull operation with a faster turnaround time for trains, by avoiding having to physically turn around the train or locomotive. Unlike the similar Driving Van Trailer used by Britain's InterCity 225, the cab cars are otherwise identical to the regular coaches rather than imitating the design of the locomotive, leading to the appearance that the train is travelling 'backwards'. In 2014 Metrolinx (the provincial agency operating GO Transit) and Bombardier announced a new design for the cab car, which included a larger cab end and crash-energy management crumple zones. Sounder Commuter Rail has also purchased this type of cab car. This new series of BiLevel Cabcar are currently and eventually planned to replace all the older generation BiLevel Cabcars on both commuter rail services, those of which will be converted to normal coaches.

Most operators of these coaches use a 480 volt head end power (HEP) system for heating, lighting, and air conditioning. The only exception to this is with GO Transit which uses a 575 volt system (575 volts is a standard industrial Canadian voltage, having been previously used by CN for their Tempo cars — also built by HS). Whenever GO has leased coaches to other agencies, a power unit has been supplied with the coaches, or when GO has leased coaches from other agencies, a locomotive with 480 volt HEP capabilities was also leased. Amtrak, Via Rail and Exo also use 480 volt HEP (480 volt is a standard industrial U.S. voltage).

Model: Bi-Level I coach

Operators: GO Transit, Metrolink (Southern California)
Builder: Hawker Siddeley Canada/Can Car

Model: Bi-Level II coach

Operators: GO Transit, Caltrain, Trinity Railway Express, Coaster (San Diego)
Hawker Siddeley Canada/Can Car

Model: Bi-Level III coach

Operators: GO Transit, Metrolink, Tri-Rail,
Builder: Urban Transportation Development Corporation/Can Car

Model: Bi-Level IV coach

Operators: GO Transit
Builder: Urban Transportation Development Corporation/Can Car

Model: Bi-Level V coach

Operators: GO Transit
Builder: Urban Transportation Development Corporation/Can Car

Model: Bi-Level VI coach

Operators: GO Transit, West Coast Express (some leased to GO Transit), Sounder commuter rail, New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Altamont Corridor Express, Trinity Railway Express, Caltrain
Builder: Bombardier Transportation

Model: Bi-Level VII coach

Operators: GO Transit, FrontRunner, Northstar Commuter Rail, SunRail, Trinity Railway Express
Builder: Bombardier Transportation

Model: Bi-Level VIII coach

Operators: GO Transit, Sounder commuter rail
Builder: Bombardier Transportation

Many commuter rail agencies have adopted the Bombardier BiLevel Coach for use in their fleets. They include:

Operator: Altamont Corridor Express

Location: San Jose, California
Fleet size: 24 cars

Operator: Caltrain

Location: San Francisco, California
Fleet size: 41 cars

Operator: Coaster

Location: San Diego, California
Fleet size: 28 cars

Operator: FrontRunner

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Fleet size: 22 cars 

Operator: GO Transit

Location: Greater Toronto Area, Ontario
Fleet size: 656 cars 

Operator: Metrolink

Location: Greater Los Angeles Area, California
Fleet size: 147 cars 

Operator: Northstar Line

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Fleet size: 18 cars

Operator: Rail Runner Express

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Fleet size: 22 cars 

Operator: Sounder

Location: Seattle, Washington
Fleet size: 58 cars 

Operator: SunRail

Location: Orlando, Florida
Fleet size: 20 cars

Operator: Tri-Rail

Location: Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach, Florida
Fleet size: 26 cars

Operator: Trinity Railway Express

Location: Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
Fleet size: 17 cars

Operator: West Coast Express

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Fleet size: 44 cars

Operator: Exo

Location: Montreal, Quebec
Fleet size: 22 cars

Similar units
Kawasaki also manufactures a similar product and it is used on diesel lines of the Long Island Rail Road, the MARC Train  system in Maryland, MBTA Commuter Rail in the Boston area, and, formerly, Virginia Railway Express. However, VRE has since sold their cars to MARC. Bombardier's Görlitz, Germany plant manufactures another type of double deck train car, the Bombardier Double-deck Coach.

Bombardier has also designed and is manufacturing the MultiLevel coach for New Jersey Transit, MARC and the Montreal-area Exo. This car is constructed of stainless steel similar to the Kawasaki cars purchased by the agencies listed above, but is built to a much tighter loading gauge, being only 14 feet 6 inches (4.42 m) tall.

List of similar coaches:

Kawasaki L2 Double-Deck Coaches
Kawasaki L3 Double-Deck Coaches
Kawasaki MARC III Bi-Level coaches and cab cars
Kawasaki CTC-4/BTC-4 series bi-level cars
Hyundai Rotem BTC-5 bi-level train set
Gallery commuter cars (Numerous builders including St Louis Car and Pullman Company
St. Louis Car Company and Nippon Sharyo Highliner cars
Colorado Railcar (now US Railcar) DMU bi-level and bi-level trailer cars

Bi-Level Coach and Cab Car Overview
Manufacturers: Hawker Siddeley Canada-SNC Lavalin(Canadian Car and Foundry or Can Car) and UTDC-SNC Lavalin (Can Car), Bombardier Transportation
Build Location: Fort William (Thunder Bay), Ontario
Constructed: 1976–Present
Entered service: 1976
Capacity: 136 to 162 (seated); 142 in IV series, 276 standees
Car body construction: Riveted or welded aluminum body on a steel frame
Car length: 85 ft (25.91 m)
Width: 9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)
Height: 15 ft 11 in (4.85 m)
Doors: Pneumatically-operated
Weight: 50,000 kg (110,000 lb)
Power supply: 480 or 575 V HEP
Braking systems: Pneumatic tread brakes and disc brakes

See also:



Rail Passenger Cars

Bombardier BiLevel Coach in Tri-rail livery at the Deerfield Beach Tri-Rail station.

Bombardier BiLevel Coach in Tri-rail livery at the Deerfield Beach Tri-Rail station.

By Joedamadman (talk) - Own work (Original text: I created this work entirely by myself.), CC BY-SA 3.0,

A Caltrain Bombardier BiLevel Coach.

GO Transit 358 is one of the numerous Bilevel cab cars with a new front design.

By Milan Suvajac - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

GO Transit 358 is one of the numerous Bilevel cab cars with a new front design.
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Bombardier logo

The interior of a Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner Bombardier BiLevel coach.

By Ricardo630 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,