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NJ Transit "Comet Cars" in California?


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#1 Blackwolf

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 11:40 AM

An interesting portion of the meeting minutes from the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee meeting that was held in Atwater, CA on January 26. The part quoted below really caught my attention, as I'd not heard about this plan before now!

Both Bill Bronte of CalTrans and Anthony Chapa of Amtrak mentioned a piece about the upcoming delivery of “Comet” Cars. These cars were previously used by New Jersey Transit and will most likely be on the San Joaquin by Labor Day 2012. This, in the interim, will increase train lengths and provide a benefit for both the Capitol Corridor as well as the San Joaquin.


The rest of the minutes can be found HERE.

I find it VERY interesting that Comet cars would be relocated to California, and that there will be the reintroduction of single-level service on routes like the Capital Corridor and San Joaquins again. History repeating itself??

Amtrak
Capitol Corridor (too many times to count!); Coast Starlight (x20); California Zephyr (x5); Empire Builder (x2); Lake Shore Limited (x3); Maple Leaf (x1); Adirondack (x2); Cascades (x1); Pacific Surfliner (x5); San Joaquin (x7); Capitol Limited (x1); Cardinal (x1)

VIA Rail
Ocean (x3); Windsor Corridor (x2); The Canadian (x1)


#2 MikefromCrete

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 11:54 AM

An interesting portion of the meeting minutes from the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee meeting that was held in Atwater, CA on January 26. The part quoted below really caught my attention, as I'd not heard about this plan before now!

Both Bill Bronte of CalTrans and Anthony Chapa of Amtrak mentioned a piece about the upcoming delivery of “Comet” Cars. These cars were previously used by New Jersey Transit and will most likely be on the San Joaquin by Labor Day 2012. This, in the interim, will increase train lengths and provide a benefit for both the Capitol Corridor as well as the San Joaquin.


The rest of the minutes can be found HERE.

I find it VERY interesting that Comet cars would be relocated to California, and that there will be the reintroduction of single-level service on routes like the Capital Corridor and San Joaquins again. History repeating itself??

Sounds like a bad idea to me, since the Comets are Horizon cars without any amenities. For a route like the San Joaquins, they should pay passengers to ride them. This sounds like a short term solution until the next generation of bi-levels are built.

#3 Gfoley4

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 12:45 PM

What happened to the Horizons that Amtrak California used before the new bi-levels? Are they all being used in Illinois corridor service now?
Ridden the Illinois Zephyr* / Southwest Chief / California Zephyr* / Lake Shore Limited* / Capitol Limited* / Cardinal / Eurostar / TGV


* indicates ridden full-length

#4 gswager

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 08:07 PM

What happened to the Horizons that Amtrak California used before the new bi-levels? Are they all being used in Illinois corridor service now?

I believe they're still on Pacific Surfliner route.
Entire length in segments- Southwest Chief (LSV-LAX & CHI-LSV), Pacific Surfliner (SLO-LAX & LAX-SAN) & San Joaquin (Oakland stub)
Entire length, end to end- Lake Shore Limited (Boston stub) (11/09), Downeaster (11/09) & Coast Starlight (10/11)
Partial- California Zephyr (SLC-EMY), Hiawatha, Cascades (SEA-PDX) & Acela (BOS-PVD)

#5 johnny.menhennet

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 08:44 PM


What happened to the Horizons that Amtrak California used before the new bi-levels? Are they all being used in Illinois corridor service now?

I believe they're still on Pacific Surfliner route.


Only one consist is, and it's currently in Northern California for the Reno Fun Train

Edited by johnny.menhennet, 05 February 2012 - 08:44 PM.

Amtrak: Pacific Surfliner (100000000000), Southwest Chief (5), California Zephyr (1), Coast Starlight (6), Capitol Corridor (1), Empire Builder (2), Acela Express (1), LSL (1), NE Regional (2)
Non-Amtrak: NCTD Coaster (at least 20), Metrolink (4), SD Trolley (at least 20), LACMTA Red Line (at least 50), Seattle Streetcar (1), Chicago 'L' (probably 13), NYC Subway (probably 15), WMATA Mass Transit (probably 20), LIRR (1), Las Vegas Monorail (at least 12), MBTA Mass Transit (16), NJ Transit commuter rail (3), I'm sure there are more that I can't think of right now

upcoming Amtrak: Pacific Surfliner (10000000000 more)
upcoming non-Amtrak: Coaster, Red Line/Expo Line in LA, NJ Transit (5-10)

Pretty good for a 16 year old :)


#6 Blackwolf

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 02:03 AM

Reviving an old thread, as the past year has proved to allow for more information to solidify.

 

Here are the facts. CalTrans (California Department of Transportation; Division of Rail) has purchased the following outright:

  • (14) former NJTransit Comet 1B cars, completely overhauled. All mechanical equipment has been replaced/re-manufactured.  Interiors have been fully stripped and replaced with the same seats/luggage bins/restroom modules as the California Car fleet, just in single-level format. Automatic sliding doors have been replaced with "traditional" dutch doors and traps.  Cab car equipment has been completely removed, but the cars are trainlined for push-pull service with a NPCU.
  • (3) former Amtrak Horizon dinette cars, completely overhauled. Interiors ave been fully stripped and replaced with table seating similar to the California Car fleet, a cafe counter set up to also resemble the California Car fleet (convection ovens, toasters, cart-based storage of product,) and a workstation for the conductor which also has a two-way radio charging station.
  • (3) former Amtrak F40PH locomotives, overhauled into NPCU-baggage configuration.  These units are listed as #403, #405 and #407.  These locomotives were "reactivated" in Amtrak's roster in July of 2012, though the "90" prefix has not yet been applied to their roster numbers.
  • Source: CalTrans Comet 1b Presentation for San Joaquin Service.

 

Additional, CalTrans has supposedly (this is unconfirmed, but these locomotives are reported to be under active rebuild by Amtrak) also purchased three Amtrak P40DC locomotives to be used on Amtrak California routes.  The locomotives are #813, #825 and #827.  This is to allow for more motive power owned by CTDX, allowing some portion of the Amtrak locomotive roster being used by Capitol Corridor/San Joaquin trains to be returned for use on the national network.

 

All equipment purchased by CalTrans will be painted in Amtrak California livery.  The first of these rebuilt Comet 1b's are likely to be arriving (if not already arrived) into Oakland right about now (January/February 2013.)  The rest of the purchases are to be in California by mid-summer 2013.  Keep a lookout!


Amtrak
Capitol Corridor (too many times to count!); Coast Starlight (x20); California Zephyr (x5); Empire Builder (x2); Lake Shore Limited (x3); Maple Leaf (x1); Adirondack (x2); Cascades (x1); Pacific Surfliner (x5); San Joaquin (x7); Capitol Limited (x1); Cardinal (x1)

VIA Rail
Ocean (x3); Windsor Corridor (x2); The Canadian (x1)


#7 roadman3313

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 02:26 AM

Thanks for the update! I was wondering myself as this seems to have been a dead issue for a while. I'd assumed if the prototypes were making their way West that someone in our huge Network of AU members would spot them... or Amtrak/Caltrans would issue a Press Release of some sort.

 

As far as I can tell the Oakland Maintenance Facility appears to have the normal California Train sets and the California Zephyr cars as of last check passing by tonight on 14(8). The only cars arriving the past two weeks were for the Reno Fun/Snow Train which should be in the Reno area tonight on layover until Sunday :)


Edited by roadman3313, 09 February 2013 - 02:26 AM.


#8 roadman3313

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 02:43 AM

And only question regarding the seating... last I heard they were using standard Amtrak seats (Similar to the California Super liner Rebuild Seats with no leg rests) but in an Intercity 2/2 layout. 64 Seats per car with 6 tables. 38 seats  facing the "B" end and 26 seats facing the "A" end. Has this changed?



#9 Blackwolf

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 12:42 PM

And only question regarding the seating... last I heard they were using standard Amtrak seats (Similar to the California Super liner Rebuild Seats with no leg rests) but in an Intercity 2/2 layout. 64 Seats per car with 6 tables. 38 seats  facing the "B" end and 26 seats facing the "A" end. Has this changed?

Looking at the photos of the Comet 1B cars being rebuilt, it would appear as if they are indeed using the standard Amtrak intercity (Amfleet i) seats.  And the layout is the same, but I have to scratch my head a little bit about the certainty of which direction the seats are facing.  If they use the Amtrak seats without modification, they would still have the mechanism for "turning" the seat pair around.  But, for all I know (since these cars and everything put inside of them are no longer Amtrak property, but bought and paid for in full by California) the seats will be permanently set in one direction and not capable of being spun about any more.

 

Little details, I know.  I look forward to seeing these cars in person after their arrival in California.


Amtrak
Capitol Corridor (too many times to count!); Coast Starlight (x20); California Zephyr (x5); Empire Builder (x2); Lake Shore Limited (x3); Maple Leaf (x1); Adirondack (x2); Cascades (x1); Pacific Surfliner (x5); San Joaquin (x7); Capitol Limited (x1); Cardinal (x1)

VIA Rail
Ocean (x3); Windsor Corridor (x2); The Canadian (x1)


#10 Ted Bell

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:07 PM

The Utah Transit Authority purchased 25 Comet Cars from NJ Transit.  They were refurbished by Bombardier and are added to the FrontRunner commuter rail when demand is high.

 

UTA-FrontRunner-Comet.jpg



#11 gswager

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:27 PM

What is "CTDX"?
Entire length in segments- Southwest Chief (LSV-LAX & CHI-LSV), Pacific Surfliner (SLO-LAX & LAX-SAN) & San Joaquin (Oakland stub)
Entire length, end to end- Lake Shore Limited (Boston stub) (11/09), Downeaster (11/09) & Coast Starlight (10/11)
Partial- California Zephyr (SLC-EMY), Hiawatha, Cascades (SEA-PDX) & Acela (BOS-PVD)

#12 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:29 PM

Thanks for the update! I was wondering myself as this seems to have been a dead issue for a while. I'd assumed if the prototypes were making their way West that someone in our huge Network of AU members would spot them... or Amtrak/Caltrans would issue a Press Release of some sort.

 

As far as I can tell the Oakland Maintenance Facility appears to have the normal California Train sets and the California Zephyr cars as of last check passing by tonight on 14(8). The only cars arriving the past two weeks were for the Reno Fun/Snow Train which should be in the Reno area tonight on layover until Sunday :)

 

If you could post some pictures when they come in, that would be great!


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#13 gswager

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:36 PM

Majority of CA cars have automatic doors. I'm scratching my head on why the former Comet cars are going to be installed with manual dutch style doors instead of automatic doors. Care to give us an explanation?
Entire length in segments- Southwest Chief (LSV-LAX & CHI-LSV), Pacific Surfliner (SLO-LAX & LAX-SAN) & San Joaquin (Oakland stub)
Entire length, end to end- Lake Shore Limited (Boston stub) (11/09), Downeaster (11/09) & Coast Starlight (10/11)
Partial- California Zephyr (SLC-EMY), Hiawatha, Cascades (SEA-PDX) & Acela (BOS-PVD)

#14 Blackwolf

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 06:53 PM

What is "CTDX"?

California Department of Transportation; Division of Rail.  The government agency who owns and runs the intercity rail system in California.  Amtrak (AMTK) has a contract to provide operating and on-board crews to staff the three routes.


Edited by Blackwolf, 09 February 2013 - 07:03 PM.

Amtrak
Capitol Corridor (too many times to count!); Coast Starlight (x20); California Zephyr (x5); Empire Builder (x2); Lake Shore Limited (x3); Maple Leaf (x1); Adirondack (x2); Cascades (x1); Pacific Surfliner (x5); San Joaquin (x7); Capitol Limited (x1); Cardinal (x1)

VIA Rail
Ocean (x3); Windsor Corridor (x2); The Canadian (x1)


#15 Blackwolf

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 07:00 PM

Majority of CA cars have automatic doors. I'm scratching my head on why the former Comet cars are going to be installed with manual dutch style doors instead of automatic doors. Care to give us an explanation?

No real official reason.

 

But if I were to wager a guess, it is because all of the stations in California are low-level and using automatic doors with step-traps may be confusing to passengers used to getting aboard the Superliner-style cars which proliferate here on the west coast.  Most passengers using Amtrak California have no experience with what the rest of the country likely sees as normal; single level passenger cars you have to climb steps to get aboard are outright alien.  So, with litigation on the mind, have manual doors (which have safety interlocks that lock them when the train is moving) that require a crew member present for passengers to board and disembark.  But this is only my take on the matter.  :)


Amtrak
Capitol Corridor (too many times to count!); Coast Starlight (x20); California Zephyr (x5); Empire Builder (x2); Lake Shore Limited (x3); Maple Leaf (x1); Adirondack (x2); Cascades (x1); Pacific Surfliner (x5); San Joaquin (x7); Capitol Limited (x1); Cardinal (x1)

VIA Rail
Ocean (x3); Windsor Corridor (x2); The Canadian (x1)


#16 Guest_X_*

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 10:24 PM

What is "CTDX"?

CDTX is the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reporting mark for Caltrans (California Department of Transportation). All North American railroad equipment is assigned a reporting mark, to denote who the owner of the equipment is. If you look at a frieght car, you'll see they all have a reporting mark and car number painted on them, say HLCX 903213, but normal practice for passenger cars is to just use the number, and not the mark. So California coach car #8001 is really CDTX 8001, likewise F59PHI #2015 is actually CDTX 2015.

Also the X on the end of CDTX denotes that while Caltrans owns the equipment, it's not actually a railroad and doesn't operate said equipment.

#17 Guest_X_*

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 10:42 PM


Majority of CA cars have automatic doors. I'm scratching my head on why the former Comet cars are going to be installed with manual dutch style doors instead of automatic doors. Care to give us an explanation?

No real official reason.
 
But if I were to wager a guess, it is because all of the stations in California are low-level and using automatic doors with step-traps may be confusing to passengers used to getting aboard the Superliner-style cars which proliferate here on the west coast.  Most passengers using Amtrak California have no experience with what the rest of the country likely sees as normal; single level passenger cars you have to climb steps to get aboard are outright alien.  So, with litigation on the mind, have manual doors (which have safety interlocks that lock them when the train is moving) that require a crew member present for passengers to board and disembark.  But this is only my take on the matter.  :)
 



The traps have to be manually opened and closed, meaning a crew member has to be present from the get go. And when there's someone there already, it's simple to have them open the side door as well. Automatic side doors are expensive, maintenance time consuming, pains in the rear that delay trains when they don't work right. So getting rid of them makes sense on multiple levels.

#18 rickycourtney

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:34 AM

Interestingly the Comet I cars that are shown above (UTA's FrontRunner) don't have traps (they only use low level platforms) and the doors are automated. I realize that CDTX is using the somewhat different Comet IB's but it IS possible to have automated doors at low level platforms. My guess is that CDTX wants to be able to sell these cars to someone else (possibly back east?) after they are no longer needed in California.

#19 jis

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 04:11 AM

But back east they do use remotely operated full length doors so that they can be operated remotely both at high and low level platforms with the traps set appropriately. So an outfit like NJT would certainly not buy them back without remote operated doors.

#20 Guest_X_*

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 02:54 AM

Interestingly the Comet I cars that are shown above (UTA's FrontRunner) don't have traps (they only use low level platforms) and the doors are automated. I realize that CDTX is using the somewhat different Comet IB's but it IS possible to have automated doors at low level platforms. My guess is that CDTX wants to be able to sell these cars to someone else (possibly back east?) after they are no longer needed in California.

After some research it looks like the UTA Comet Is were built without traps, and thus full length side doors. The Comet IBs on the other hand were built with (retrofitied with?) traps, and side doors that only extend down to the level of the closed trap.



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