Walkthrough interior of TTC Rocket subway train showing
Open gangway subway train in Toronto (photo by the author)

Zach made a compelling argument for the new Link fleet to feature open gangways throughout the length of the train. Open gangways increase capacity without costly platform extensions by turning dead space into passenger space. Extra length low floor light rail vehicles are common in European tram systems and are slowly making their way across the Atlantic to Ottawa and suburban DC. Ottawa is a good case study for Seattle given the similarities.

I am going to call this conceptual open gangway Link vehicle Double Link. Double Link carries 11.5% more people than a 2-car Link train in the same footprint. It balances increased capacity with operational flexibility, allowing Sound Transit to run the equivalent of today’s 2- or 4-car trains.

side view of Ottawa's light rail vehicle
Ottawa’s light rail vehicle (OC Transpo)

Double Link is based on the 48 m (158 ft) long 4-segment vehicles from Alstom that Ottawa’s OC Transpo picked for its new Confederation Line. Their downtown subway platforms are 120 m (400 ft) long just like Link’s, while their surface platforms are 90 m with provision for future expansion. Likewise, the vehicles can be expanded to 59 m (194 ft) by inserting an additional segment. Siemens, the builder of Link’s new vehicles, offer comparable products outside North America. Link’s sister vehicles in New Jersey have been retrofitted with extra segments, opening the possibility for the current Kinkisharyo fleet to be lengthened as well.

Interior of Confederation Line train (City of Ottawa)

Aside from its extra length, Ottawa’s vehicles feature a 100% low floor layout, as opposed to the typical 70% low floor layout. The raised areas at the ends that people are reluctant to climb up to are gone, making all seats more accessible. It may even be possible to place doors next to the cabs to eliminate dead-end aisles, improve circulation, and encourage people to use all available space.

Comparing Double Link with 2-car Link train

Double Link is a 100% low floor light rail vehicle that is about 200 feet long. It can carry 438 people, 134 of which are seated. Standing capacity is 304 people at average peak crowding levels (4 people/m² ). Fourteen fewer seats creates standing room for 38 additional passengers. Two Double Link cars, equal to a 4-car Link train, can carry 876 passengers instead of 800.

Double Link features 9 double-width doors, one more than a 2-car train. There are designated spaces for eight wheelchairs, the same as the current vehicles. The open area for standees can be used for bicycles. It has a top speed of 65 mph and can navigate the same curves as existing Link vehicles.

I have seen the future of Link and it is in Ottawa. Does Sound Transit see it too? ST3 is Link’s biggest expansion yet. It deserves a vehicle to match its grand scale. Please EmailTheBoard@soundtransit.org and tell them to amend the contract with Siemens to future-proof Link’s new vehicles with open gangways and expandability.

59 Replies to “The Double Link LRV Concept: More Riders. Same Footprint.”

  1. +1
    Zach, I could not agree with you more. I have always been a vocal advocate for larger trains. As someone who’s interned at a Japanese railcar manufacturer before, I can also attest that it will likely be cheaper to build a train this way, since the operator cab, with its large sections of class, metal work, and instrumentation are pretty expensive.

    1. TGC, extremely pertinent to some of today’s discussion below: How would you compare the quality and durability of the rail cars you worked on to those built by the firm in question here? Concepts-like jet aircraft- don’t take anywhere near the heat, dirt, and beating that urban transit does.

      Mark

  2. Zach and Oran are both modest about the advantages of open gangways and double-length LRVs.

    I continue to witness full loads on the front cars of three-car trains, while the rear car remains roomy. Open gangways solves that problem by allowing the passengers to redistribute themselves into the less-used portions of the train while on the train. Double-length LRVs do almost as well in spreading out ridership.

    The capacity increases Zach and Oran describe are on paper. The practical capacity increase is more.

    FOEs/security currently have access to only a quarter of a full-length train right now. Open gangways would bring whole trains under the protection of security officers, while double-length LRVs bring half the train under their protection.

    If it is too late to build full-train-length maintenance facilities in SODO and the East Base, can they at least be updated to accommodate double-length LRVs as described in this post?

    Did the engineering department ever take a serious look at longer maintenance facilities? … more than their casual rejection of a center platform at ID/C Station?

    Speaking of which, one of the understated practical benefits of open gangways or longer trains is dwell time reduction. Right now, people have to run to the third car when the give up on boarding the first two. With longer cars, they just board, while the crowd on board the train fills the open space, like an amoeba.

    Getting the trains moving faster means more trains can come through during the peak of peak. That means more system capacity, which will be needed by the time ST3 is built out.

  3. Stupid question: Can’t the trains be longer than 400 feet, so long as the front and rear door are within the 400 feet of the platform?

    1. I would imagine the major limitation is the Link section that runs across traffic through the Rainier Valley.

      1. Eventually, trains will be able to run on other lines and not be used on the MLK line. But even on MLK, the stations are longer than 400 feet. I wasn’t envisioning having trains extend hundreds of feet in front of their first door and behind their last door, just maybe a couple dozen feet, something like the current sections that are ahead of and behind the front and rear doors.

        I must confess I haven’t done any research into whether existing train lines do this.

      2. You would also need to be able to move between gangways (another argument for making them open). Since the only place that we will ever need such capacity is between the UW and downtown, I think it could eventually make sense. Run trains every three minutes from the UW to downtown. Half the time these are four car trains and run to the airport. The other half of the time they are six car trains and stop at SoDo.

        Even then it is less than ideal. Since the biggest crowd is within the urban core, you have a lot of pushing and shoving. So someone headed to Lynnwood might get on the six car train at SoDo and work their way to the ends, but most everyone will get on and off in the crowded middle.

    2. That has been my understanding that the doors must be on the platform to be legal in the eyes of the FTA.

      I love this idea but I don’t foresee Sound Transit going for this. They would have to expand the Seattle O&M as well which adds cost to then project.

      1. The New York City Subway has a few stations where the train doesn’t fit the platform. That part of the train simply cannot load or unload. Is that legal or grandfathered in?

      2. I’ve seen this on commuter rail lines before, too. (I can’t remember if it was in the states or Europe). When you board at the downtown station, they have big signs saying something like “stations X and Y only served by first four cars.”

        So here, the use case if actually a bit easier for Sounder. For example, if Sumner doesn’t want to expand their station to 10 car length but Puyallup and Kent do, you just have some cars that won’t serve the Summer stop.

        For Link, since all the stations are the same length, and the biggest demand is at the underground stations, I don’t see a use case where some stations are expanded and some don’t.

      3. He’s talking about the non-door end section where there is perhaps 20 feet beyond the last door.

        Portland streetcar current operates this way at a number of platforms. The platform is long enough to serve all doors, but not the entire length of the car.

      4. @AJ — Yeah, that makes perfect sense for a commuter rail line. It makes a lot less sense for a Metro/subway.

        @Glenn — Interesting. Well there you have it. It is a streetcar — which means it is completely urban, which means people make small trips — yet they don’t handle really long trains at every stop. I see no reason why we can’t do the same (if it comes to that).

  4. I emailed ST about this possibility and this was their response:
    In regards to the length of our trains: There are many preexisting facilities which cannot currently accommodate the length of LRV that you are proposing. Sound Transit must have the ability to maintain and service the new vehicles at our current operations and maintenance facility as well as at future facilities. The cost and disruption to retrofit our existing maintenance base to accommodate longer vehicle maintenance bays is not worth the benefits of running longer individual vehicles at this time. This is also the case at many of the train’s stations. Exact LRV length and door opening positions is required to meet our current platform ADA tactile strips within our system platforms. Also, overall platform length is limited to 4 car trainsets. Longer LRV’s in a multiple trainset configuration would not be compatible with existing platform sizes.

    Some of these reasons seem valid, but some seem like B’s to me…

    1. Moving the tactile strips is cost-prohibitive? Did they even check to see whether there are designs that don’t require moving the tactile strips?

    2. My response:

      “The cost and disruption to retrofit our existing maintenance base to accommodate longer vehicle maintenance bays is not worth the benefits of running longer individual vehicles at this time.”

      Not at this time, then when? Not worth the benefits. Compared to what, running more trains? Extending platforms? Removing seats?

      You are building new maintenance facilities. You can figure this out.

      “Also, overall platform length is limited to 4 car trainsets.”

      Hence this proposal. Same platform footprint. More riders.

    3. I’m curious what the cost is. I’m skeptical that the cost of retrofitting a maintenance facility is not worth the benefit of adding 12-15% capacity to the system. Even a cost of $50M is worth the capacity increase, in my view.

    4. This really feels like something were we need to have this debate now to influence the next round of purchases in 5/10 years. we also need to pay more attention to OMF design, which is something I’ve never seen covered before in any media.

      In other words, it’s a 10 years lift to drive this change

    5. Exact LRV length and door opening positions is required to meet our current platform ADA tactile strips within our system platforms.

      TriMet’s 100 series cars have doors in quite different locations than the rest of the fleet. They use full length tactile strips just like SoundTransit does.

      1. I can understand ST’s reluctance. It’s not just the platform edge tactile strips. They cut grooves into the tiles the entire width of the platform where the doors would be. Other cities use a different approach, opting to just have tactile strips guide people along the platform and to the door landings.

      2. So, at a minimum you have to have doors at those specific locations. Is there anything preventing more than the advertised number of doors?

        The full low floor design has more flexibility in door location than the Siemens S70 does.

    6. Do I get this right? At ST’s O&M facility, only single cars can fit into their maintenance bays? All trains must be broken down to be serviced? I’ve had tours of the facility, but never noticed or inquired. If so, that would certainly explain their opposition to any cars longer than 30 meters.

      1. A major combined sanitary/storm sewer collector runs under sodo maintenance building between maintenance pits. It would severely hamper expansion of the maintenance pits to span the double car length.

      2. Right, but presumably future OMF could be built with larger bays? ST can continue to operate the existing train out of the older facilities

  5. I have full faith that Soind Transit will hear this recommendation loud and clear. They will then dismiss it with a made up lame excuse.

  6. It’s worth pointing out that when the Kinki’s were ordered, 100% low floor LRV’s with 65mph+ operating speeds, good ride comfort, acceptable operational weight, workable purchase costs, acceptable availability rate, and acceptable maintenance costs didn’t really exist yet. There were 100% low floor designs, but they all cut from other areas to make things work. The Alstom Citadis you mentioned, for example, has a 43mph top speed in most configurations. It’s higher speed model used on some French routes is significantly narrower, partially to decrease drag. Quite frankly, I’m not sure that the 100% low floor options offered today really meet all of those criteria either. 100% low floor is not an easy task, as your basically talking about sticking a whole lot of equipment in a very small space and asking it to run flawlessly 20hrs a day, 365 days a year.

    If you go take a look at the RFP for the Siemens cars, you can see that ST didn’t specify the 70% low floor, only stated a maximum and minimum for floor heights. It was the bidders that chose not to offer any 100% designs, as far as I know:

    https://www.theurbanist.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/RFP-RTA-RP-0116-15.pdf

    It’s also worth noting that while it’s possible the RFP could have been written for a 100% low floor design, it’s likely that the cost per car would have been significantly higher. The S70 variant that Sound Transit purchased is essentially an ‘off the rack’ design, used all over the country. And while Alstrom claims to be able to meet Buy America by assembling their Citadis variants in NY, I don’t know if you really want to be using a new design at the edge of whats physically possible, while stretching a manufacturer’s capacity, while simultaneously under public scrutiny. That’s how you end up with an F-35 style disaster contract.

    And in the end, if you lose the 100% low floors, you lose much of the benefit of removing cabs and going open gangway. Portland’s single-cab S70s gain a grand total of 8 seats and 0 standing passengers.

    Conceptually, I couldn’t agree more about both cab removal and open gangways. Practically though, it’s never quite as simple as it seems. It’s especially hard for us transit enthusiasts to accept a lot of the trade-offs that have to be made with these sort of projects, but things like politics and budget are 400lb gorillas in the room when it comes to transit planning of any kind.

    1. I don’t know if you really want to be using a new design at the edge of whats physically possible, while stretching a manufacturer’s capacity, while simultaneously under public scrutiny.

      You might as well have said the same thing about the first order for the first Siemens light rail car that could operate at decent speeds. Everything before then that had a partially low floor was also quite low speed.

      Someone has to be willing to make that first order. If everyone had kept insisting on whatever everyone else is using we’d still be riding in horsecars (image from Seattle Now and Then.

    2. cygp2p, my attitude-related remarks below were based on some assumptions of mine about accuracy of a quote that would be insulting if it’s precise. And my positive comment about what would be a major breakthrough in motor technology if true. And also, I really hoped that Citadis is not the only manufacturer that can even claim to deliver it.

      Trainmen in Helsinki told me that new (2007) Variotram equipment didn’t like their city’s very old narrow-gauge tracks. And world-wide, even a new baby-Breda weighs more than the Empire State Building. But since European systems that should be old enough to know better still get these things, the Low Bid (doesn’t that sound like an evil spirit our of a bayou?) has got to die.

      Apologies to you personally for my lame pre-morning-coffee assumptions. Because you’re raising my own life and death point about mechanical reality in our industry. The F-35 – A10 reference is worth a whole morning’s “link-clicks” for everybody reading this. Also speaks to aircraft designers’ trouble with streetcars.

      F-35: a politically-beloved brand new jet-fighter plane that could probably win dogfights with any enemy’s own Tom Cruise. A-10: forty years old, and works better on enemy tanks in the shade of the same tree whose branches it is currently flying under.

      An airborne PCC streetcar consisting of a Civil War gatling-gun and two short wings. Only one of which is necessary for return to base. So for our procurement: We buy patent-rights from whatever corporation still has St. Louis Car Company DNA mergered into it, and write our specs from there.

      Tragedy that Paul N. Weyrich, publisher of The New Electric Railway Journal is dead. His essay posing as the chief of the Spanish Inquisition hunting down streetcar-deniers proved he was our country’s last real Conservative. He really could have gotten money for something our country’s Defense truly needs.

      Way past my quota for links to “Electroliner”. Though cafe segment with the white table-cloths had no platform doors, removing only insurmountable excuse not to buy it.

      Mark

    3. “And in the end, if you lose the 100% low floors, you lose much of the benefit of removing cabs and going open gangway.”

      How so? The S70s are an awkward case because the seating is wedged into a slant-nosed cab, but the articulated sections at the center of the cars aren’t arranged for passenger seating (the “bath” section in the middle has seating, yes, but the closest to seating on the actual articulations are the standee rails adjacent to them.) And I believe that the S70 “bath” sits on idler wheels, so if you were going to do jumbo cars based strictly on the S70, you’d really want a high floor “bath” connecting the two low-floor sections so that another set of powered wheels could go under the car.

  7. I think we’re talking past each other on one point. It makes perfect sense that every set of DOORS must open completely on the platform. But is there any reason why the CABS can’t extend beyond it? LINK’s used cameras for mirrors, hasn’t it?

    What else in the system would we have to sacrifice to be able to maintain these cars? Because it seems to me that the lack of them will do our system needless damage for the whole operating life of this next fleet.

    Major breakthrough here: a light-rail motor small enough to permit end to end level floor, and powerful enough for regional speed. Incidentally, any difference in curve radius between these train-sets and our current ones?

    But for barman and everybody else. I’ll generally give some perspective over criticisms directed at Sound Transit. But XDT….

    “Exact LRV length and door opening positions is required to meet our current platform ADA tactile strips within our system platforms.”

    Is that a quote verbatim? Because if it is, it’s enough of an insult to justify, to, as attorneys always used say on TV, (Well sorry, Twitter, even before TV, radio was good enough for the PCC’s) “Permission to “Treat the Witness as Hostile.”

    And if our tools for moving tactile strips won’t handle this work, we need to engage the firm that helped Wiley Coyote sue Ajax Incorporated for the failure rate of all his rocket roller skates and parachutes.

    Where are we on the procurement schedule, and what’s our political strategy?

    Mark Dublin

  8. i tend to agree with ST. Such a large vehicle would require a major refit of the maintenance shops. Lifts, storage tracks, etc would all need to be reconfigured. Plus you may need to have more spare vehicles since you cannot easily pull one car of a multiple car train out of service. Also the benefit of 38 more pax does not seem to even make such an attempt practical if it was possible to begin with. The real issue is that we should have built a totally grade separated subway system, however now we are stuck with inferior technology and quickly realizing those limitations.

      1. I’m guessing that the current facility will probably also serve in some capacity for the maintenance of the new vehicles. it would not make sense for all 3 shops to have an equipment body shop for example, but to centralize those functions. Also, there may be an operational need to station some of the new type at the current facility, or perform maintenance there when required. The last thing you want is two totally separate fleets of vehicles that are operationally restricted.

      2. ST could establish a long term plan of transitioning to a longer car. Eventually all work can be shifted out of the SoDo OMF and that facility sold off. The timeline for shutting down the SoDo OMF would align with the service life of the current fleet.

        SoDo makes perfect sense as an OMF with our current system, but once we have a fully built out network across the 3 county area I don’t think it makes sense to have a support facility that close to the downtown core with super high real estates. You put a facility like that on the periphery of the system to take advantage of lower land value.

      3. You can take advantage of the higher real estate values by building above it.

        However, there are a number of reasons why it makes more sense to have these on the outskirts, none the least of which is the traffic pattern.

        Right now, the last trains ending at Beacon Hill make no sense. Once the ST3 facility at Lynwood or wherever gets built, having them run through to there make a lot more sense for end of service and start of service patterns.

  9. And, of course, the number of seats with your proposal actually decreases – the increased capacity comes only from more standing room.

    1. asdf2, I don’t think this was willful concealment on transit-supporters’ part. More likely that since average person in Seattle has never been aboard anything like it, discussion always left out major fact of urban transit: Successful Subways Never Have Seats. Available, at least.

      Worst of all, there’s no outbuilding the problem. The better the service, the more passengers. Only mitigation is to design, operate, and especially maintain the system to max performance. People will put up with a standing ride on an elevator. As long is it doesn’t stop between floors.

      But as our rail system goes from city to regional, LINK will become another level of a regional network. With comfortable seats, and bathrooms. But unlike Sounder, its own grade-separated track. We’re still at a very early stage.

      Mark

  10. At Innotrans this year, all car designs were either 100% low floor to fit street level boarding or 100% high floor to fit existing platforms. Mixed floor heights are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

  11. I get your point about the cabs cutting into capacity, but what about the seating arrangement? In NYC, 51′ subway cars can handle about 250 people (50 seated, 200 standing.) Even with 4 cabs, a link train without all of “pew seating” could accommodate more passengers than the design you propose.

    1. It’s a trade off between short and long trips, passenger comfort versus flow, and tolerance for standing long durations.

  12. I hate the two-level floors of LINK even more than the lack of an open gangway. It makes them feel like glorified buses.

    1. ChrisC, and Oran, and everybody else, this point is the heart of this whole discussion, and terribly important for understanding, and procuring, equipment far beyond this one really critical purchase.

      The reason for the partially raised floors is that, as yet, the industry has not been able to design an electric motor that can propel a low-platform train 60 miles an hour. And still fit under the floor. If Citadis or anyone else has finally solved this problem, it will be a major advancement.

      The “anyone else” is a itself a serious matter. Out of the world’s whole bus-manufacturing industry, our Tunnel fleet got three bids, one high, one pointedly non-responsive, and one we should have sent equal portions of to our lawyers and the shredder when we discovered, early, the level of its own responsivity.

      Also, the world’s best machine could still take some years to bring the new technology into reliable operation. Including maintenance facilities we might have to build from scratch. As an experimental division for an already-established rail system, we could become pioneers for a permanent test facility for new equipment. But you don’t use your main line, or its shops, for a test track.

      Whatever sharp instrument any agency is to find on the seat of one’s chair, this isn’t a matter of ideology, corporate culture, or official bad manners. It’s that we’re transit professionals willing to give years of our own time and ability to a regional rapid transit system nine months and four days old today.

      The least we deserve is that the ST and STB boards start a tradition of regular scheduled briefings on matters exactly like today’s subject. With mechanics, engineers, and spec-writers, freeing up public relations staff for their own separate specialty. Guaranteeing ST-5+ the CEO with the perspective and analytical skills they’ll need.

      Mark

      1. How much work would it take to make the LINK tracks deeper at the stations? If you could do that you could have level floors throughout.

      2. Mark: It’s not a major advancement as each year they are able to do a bit more.

        Bombardier has been building a 100% low floor car that can do 50 mph for some time.

        63 mph (Ottawa’s system is rated for 100 km/ hr) isn’t that big an advancement over 50.

        Siemens Avenio (their 100% low floor streetcar) is limited to 80 km/hr, but 48 mph isn’t that slow. They’ll get get it up to 63 mph soon enough. They’ll want to keep up with Alstom.

        What’s really impressive is the acceleration, which is where the horsepower is really needed. The 100% low floor cars in use in Potsdam from Stadler get up to 35 mph in almost no distance at all.

  13. I think “married pair” cars would be a good compromise. Leave the car length at 95 feet, but each car would have one operator cab on one side, and the cars would be joined with open gangways at the other side. A four-car train would consist of two married pairs, with a total of four operator cabs instead of eight. The cars could still be maintained at the existing maintenance bays, and ST could still have some operational flexibility to operate 2-car trains or 4-car trains.

    1. Portland does this on its Type 4 MAX cars. I think that’s a good real world example. ST is past the stage that it will ever need to operate single cars.

      1. One counter example I can think of is when they need to run trains during snow/ice storms to keep the wires clean. But even for that, you can just keep the existing shorter cars for decades and just trot them out every other year for snowstorms haha.

        If we have driveless trains in the future, on some of the secondary lines like Issaquah it might make most sense to run high frequency one-car trains, similar to SkyTrain?

    2. Yes, this makes perfect sense. If an operator control can be fitted into the B end of the car as Glenn in Portland has described previously, the individual cars could operate from either end for maintenance purposes, but still be coupled together with more passenger space.

  14. This seems like a very good value. For a relatively small amount of money we increase capacity.

    On the other hand, I can see why ST is reluctant to do this. They probably figure they will never need this, and if they do, they will need a lot more. I understand this attitude. As someone mentioned (on the other thread) the key is headways. When Link gets to Lynnwood (and even Everett) we will still have (relatively big) three minute headways. Simply fixing that — moving to two or even 90 second headways — will not only result in way more capacity, but much better service. It is possible that we will be like some cities and have done everything physically possible to improve headways but still find ourselves with capacity problems, but somehow I doubt it. So while I think this makes sense, it is hard for me to get riled up about it — we have way bigger problems.

    1. 100% low floors help with the headways too, as you are able to have doors spread out over the length of the car better.

  15. It would be interesting to find out how this was dealt with elsewhere. For example, most places in Europe originally had shorter cars, but have altered their procedures to deal with much longer cars. Potsdam still has a few of their East German 50 footers in occasional service, but most everything is now double length low floor cars. Berlin uses cars that are closer to triple the length of the old rolling stock.

    Articulated cars used in Boston, San Francisco and Toronto are vastly longer than the PCC cars that were their predecessors.

    Then, there’s the 10 unit articulated quarter mile long container cars used on freight trains. There’s no way those fit in a car shop designed for standard 50 foot flat cars.

    So, other operators have successfully transitioned to longer cars.

    One thing I can’t help wonder about: what is on these cars that you need to put the entire car into the shop at the same time? Maybe the other operations only put half the car in the shop at a time?

    Somehow, other places have been able to do this.

  16. ChrisC, this is exactly what we did to bring bus floors, train floors, and platforms to the same level in the DSTT in 2005. Changing roadbed level is much easier and cheaper than changing platform level, which requires replacement of every single elevator and escalator.

    But doubt our system would want to drop the roadbed again to re-raise floor level of trains. By the time we got done with the job- two years’ total shutdown in 2005- we’d likely have motors with sufficient power that can fit under a low floor.

    Mark

  17. And Glenn, it’s very encouraging to know there’s been better progress than I thought. Can you give us some references to keep current with these developments? I wouldn’t doubt that Sound Transit would be unwilling to delay new cars and maintenance until fast 100% low floor cars come into being.

    Do you think the fast low-floor equipment era is close enough that we at least lobby for a phased approach to both vehicle-introduction and maintenance facilities? Because I think completely holding off action awaiting a new technology is a great deal for a lobbyist to ask.

    What should I e-mail my rep this weekend?

    Mark

    1. The best advice I can give is to see what the various manufacturers have developed and are advertising on their web sites.

      Alstom is currently offering a 65 mph version of the car they built for Ottawa. This is faster than SoundTransit plans to operate.
      http://www.alstom.com/Global/Transport/Resources/Documents/brochure2014/Citadis%20Spirit%20-%20Brochure%20-%20EN.pdf?epslanguage=en-GB

      One thing to understand is that, if you remember back to your travels in Europe, standard height platforms there are in the 400mm to 500mm range. Big stations have the three foot high platforms we are used to seeing in subways, but many stations lack those. If you get on a DB regional express in Berlin, you have to climb downward into the train because much of the bilevel equipment is designed for the lower level platforms. It’s an even more difficult situation than having a high car floor and low platform.

      So, there is an effort to produce lower floors in all types of equipment. However, much of this effort is aimed at getting the floor down to the 15 to 20 inch range.

      If you are willing to include those, you can already get regional trains in the 125 mph range. Check for low floor regional train offerings from Stadler, Alstom or Bombardier. Those are designed for the Sounder type market and not light rail.

      One you get too much above the 65 mph offered by Alstom’s Citadis variant for North America, you really need something other than light rail.

  18. It’s a shame we couldn’t work out a way to migrate to a slightly higher platform level in the 50-65cm range. It opens up a whole other world of possibilities.

  19. My thought is to start buying the double links for both lines and have the older link cars modified for bikes only and attach it when it’s busy

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