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Passenger Trains > Metra cars on MARC

Date: 12/10/04 06:03
Metra cars on MARC
Author: galenadiv

MARC is sending the following letter to people on its e-mail list. I thought some might find it interesting.

More Gallery Cars Enter Service

On Wednesday evening the sixth and seventh gallery cars entered service on MARC trains 877 and 874 between Washington and Martinsburg. We have received comments from several riders so we are providing you background on the cars, their acquisition and planned use.

MARC ridership is at record levels. We have no funds to acquire new cars. We are faced with 5 to 8 of our single level Summitomo cars (the ones with 3 and 2 seating) being out of service at any one time in the next 3-5 years for either a 10 year or mid-life overhaul.. In addition there are 7 heritage cars which are over 50 years old which must be removed from daily service.

Last year we conducted an extensive search for available used commuter cars in the United States. The only cars available were from Metra, Chicago’s commuter rail system. The acquisition of 300 new gallery cars by Metra made used gallery cars available at a minimal cost. We acquired 12 cars for MARC service and our Virginia neighbor, VRE, also acquired the same design cars.

The gallery car design was invented in Chicago in the early 1950’s and Metra owns almost 1000 cars of this design carrying 300,000 riders each day. The same design is also the standard on commuter trains between San Francisco and San Jose. The cars we acquired are approximately 30 years old but a 40 year life for equipment is not unusual.

Thee MARC cars came directly from Metra revenue service. We performed an overhaul of certain safety related features including making every window an emergency window, which both exceeds industry standards and the manner in which they operated in Chicago. The cars are intended as an interim measure during the period of the overhauls described above and until new cars can be obtained.

If we had the ability to buy new cars to our own specifications they would be different than these cars. They must use a low level platform which limits which tracks in Washington they can operate into and precludes their operation either on the Penn and Camden Lines which have high level platforms. Because of the platform limitations at Washington and the regular use of Brunswick Line trains in the middle of the day on the Penn Line, they must be concentrated on as few trains as possible rather than spread out in small numbers on many trains. Of the 9 sets of equipment on the Brunswick/Frederick Line three will have gallery cars. They will always operate with a regular MARC cab control car which provides toilet facilities. Our policy also is to operate a second car which is toilet equipped when a train exceeds four cars. This car will also be a regular MARC car.

We know that many riders would prefer different equipment but with the resources available to us and the operational constraints we face these cars are the best option.

Date: 12/10/04 10:17
Re: Metra cars on MARC
Author: indyspy

Whats wrong with Gallery cars? They work great. And have more seats then a low level car.

The platform issue is true, but why would not be better then what they allready have for Brunswick Line service

Date: 12/10/04 17:59
Re: Metra cars on MARC
Author: bandob

Rumor only, but heard on a recent ride on an ex-METRA car on VRE: Some Maryland riders don't apparently like the upstairs seats, feeling exposed to eyes from below.


Date: 12/10/04 21:21
Re: Metra cars on MARC
Author: ICE6A4001

Exposed to eyes below? I need to start riding the lower level on Metra bi-levels, or move to Maryland.

Date: 12/11/04 08:03
Re: Metra cars on MARC
Author: Castle_Romeo

ICE6A4001 Wrote:
> Exposed to eyes below? I need to start riding the
> lower level on Metra bi-levels, or move to
> Maryland.

Or move to Chicago. Hehe.

Date: 12/11/04 10:01
Re: Modesty glass
Author: MEKoch

Metra and predecessor lines put modesty glass on the aisle side of the upper level seats. Thus when walking in the lower level main aisle, upper level passengers were allowed a bit more privacy. (Yes, some conductors got an eyeful).

This modesty glass was requested by female passengers when wearing skirts, which were made from minimal fabric....

Do the MARC cars still have such glass?

Date: 12/11/04 13:46
Re: Modesty panels
Author: meh

There are no modesty panels in the current generations of bi-level cars I see in service on Metra, which range from some 1960s-era cars built for the Milwaukee Road through the newest 2003-2005 (8500-series) cars. It would be impossible for conductors to reach up for tickets if the upper level's floor sill were any higher than it is. (The stainless steel "curb" rises only 4-6" above the upper floor level.)

The upper floor is roughly at eye level for an adult walking on the lower level. The center of the car is open the full height, thus passengers can stand upright while walking in the lower level aisle but must duck slightly when moving into the seats, which are under the upper "galleries." The ceiling in the upper level is a little over 6 feet high, so most passengers can also stand upright when upstairs.

There are two seats on each side of the aisle on the lower level, and each side of the upper level has a single row of seats and a narrow aisle. About half of the upper-level seats face longitudinally (front/back), and about half are transverse-facing (toward the center, which probably causes the greatest modesty concerns). Most of the longitudinal seats have reversible seatbacks (so that you can face forward whether the train is in "push" or "pull" mode) and the transverse seats flip up like movie theatre seats to open a wider aisle when unoccupied. Luggage racks are in the upper center portion of the cars (above the lower aisle).

Date: 12/11/04 20:39
Re: Metra cars on MARC
Author: ICE6A4001

I do live in Chicago. But I always ride on the upper level, so I guess I am missing out.

Date: 12/12/04 04:13
Re: Metra cars on MARC
Author: F40PHR231

If the female passengers feel uncomfortable riding on the upper-level, they can always sit in the lower level. Simple!

Date: 12/12/04 06:47
Re: Metra cars on MARC
Author: CShaveRR

What makes me curious is the implication that a MARC cab car is needed for the bathroom. All of the Metra coaches had one when they were here.

The Chicago-area cars that required "modesty panels" were the Highliners on the former IC electric lines, which are not of the same configuration as the gallery cars. I never heard of this being an issue with the gallery cars used on the other lines. When I'm in the aisle, I'm looking where I'm going. The description of the seating provided earlier is good, and accurate--there are relatively few seats on (or in) which this should even be a potential problem.

Date: 12/14/04 09:08
Re: Modesty glass
Author: LCW

Metra cars no longer have such glass, but you have to twist your head and neck in some funny positions to see anything.

Whats is the issue with toilets?? The Gallery cars have toilets in every car at the A end of the car.

Date: 12/14/04 15:35
ADA-compliant restrooms
Author: meh

LCW Wrote:
> Whats is the issue with toilets?? The Gallery cars
> have toilets in every car at the A end of the car.

It might be an ADA issue. MARC is receiving older Metra gallery cars; their restrooms are at the end of the car and definitely are not ADA-compliant. (They are too small, are at the end of a narrow aisle, and may have a step up to them.)

All of the post-ADA Metra cars (series 7400, 8400, 8500, 6000-6100, and perhaps others) have considerably larger restrooms at the main floor level. These are adjacent to the vestibule and to the ADA seats and wheelchair securement areas.

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