Tuesday, July 7, 2009

DMU Update 2

I found out recently (by way of the Commuter Rail Report) that the United States may be back in the domestic DMU business. A company calling themselves U.S. Railcar has indeed bought the design and is moving production assets to a facility near Columbus, Ohio.

They are planning on re-commencing production sometime later this year. Additionally they are planning platform enhancements, the largest of which would be a new top speed of 125mph. (Pretty smart if you ask me, that gets them at least a mention for our new "HSR" network.) No word if there are any active or anticipated projects currently in the works.

Pittsburgh's Perspective
Hopefully this will change the finding of the report that DMU's would be considered for the AVR segment only. The whole point of this DMU design is to meet CFR 49 regulations for crash worthiness. The whole point of meeting this regulation is so that a DMU can operate co mingled on the same track at the same time as freight trains. This makes them a great idea for integrating with the heavy NS freight traffic on the Pittsburgh Line.

In fact, if there were some logical reason for the researchers suggestion of only pursuing DMU's on one segment of the system, it would make more sense for them to do it on the Greensburg Line. DMU's are smaller (capacity wise), and less expensive than traditional trainsets. The Greensburg Line has a lower forecasted ridership and according to the report would use shorter trainsets (of a single car and an engine). Why not get the most for your money? The DMU would maximize the amount of space used for a lower price than a trainset.

If trainsets are preferred for any operation, it would be for the Arnold/New Ken line as that has a higher forecasted ridership and a larger capacity trainset may make more sense (although I think you could argue that DMU's would more than suffice in that situation as well)

Time will tell, perhaps study #371 will reverse some of these interim findings.

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