A new level of comfort and onboard convenience

September 14, 2005

NJ TRANSIT unveiled the first of 231 new multi-level rail cars today at an event at Newark Penn Station. The cars will enable NJ TRANSIT to meet and anticipate ridership demand on its busiest rail lines, while providing an unprecedented level of comfort for customers.

So many customers are excited to see the arrival of the first multi-level rail car, because they know that these cars will eventually mean more available seats and a more comfortable commuting experience,¿ said NJ TRANSIT Chairman Jack Lettiere. ¿The attention to detail that was incorporated into the design¿including invaluable input from our Customer Design Team¿is evident when you board the car for the first time.¿

The Customer Design Team, comprised of 14 NJ TRANSIT commuters from around the system, followed the multi-level design process. In 2003, the team traveled to Montreal to inspect firsthand a soft mock-up of the car at the manufacturing plant and provide feedback.

¿Ensuring the mobility of our region is vital to our economic future and quality of life,¿ said Anthony Coscia, Chairman of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. ¿With trans-Hudson vehicular crossings nearing their capacity, and with trans-Hudson commuter rail traffic funneled through a single 100-year-old tunnel facility, these multi-level cars represent an important step to provide capacity in the near term while we advance THE Tunnel Project.¿

Each multi-level car offers 15-20 percent more seating capacity than single-level coaches. The 231-car multi-level fleet will ultimately provide a total of 31,447 seats.

The initial 100-car order, which was funded by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, consists of:

  • 48 coach cars (without restrooms) with 142 seats
  • 37 coach cars (with ADA restrooms) with 132 seats
  • 15 cab cars (with ADA restrooms) with 127 seats

In July, NJ TRANSIT¿s Board of Directors authorized the purchase of an additional 131 rail cars, bringing the total order to 231. The 131-car order consists of:

  • 64 coach cars (without restrooms) with 142 seats
  • 49 coach cars (with ADA restrooms) with 132 seats
  • 18 cab cars (with ADA restrooms) with 127 seats

The average cost per car is $1.9 million.

Extensive Testing and Training Program Announced

The prototype that was displayed today is the first of seven coaches that will be provided to NJ TRANSIT for testing purposes. Three will be tested in New Jersey, while four will be sent to the Federal Railroad Administration test track in Pueblo, Co. Production cars, which will ultimately be used in revenue service, will only be mass-produced after extensive testing of the prototypes is advanced. The first production car is scheduled to arrive next spring.

¿While we are anxious to put these cars into revenue service, that will not happen until all the car¿s systems have been thoroughly tested and our crews and mechanics are trained to operate and maintain them.¿

Mr. Warrington outlined a timeline for testing the equipment and providing training to the hundreds of employees¿locomotive engineers, conductors, ticket collectors and mechanical personnel¿who will use the new cars. Official training at NJ TRANSIT¿s Meadows Maintenance Complex (MMC) will begin in early 2006, although teams of mechanics have already begun to learn about the new car. Engineers, conductors and ticket collectors will follow, with training continuing through the winter and spring.

Following the training and successful completion of a thorough testing program, the multi-level cars are targeted for revenue service in late 2006 on NJ TRANSIT¿s busiest rail lines¿especially on trains that operate to and from Penn Station New York on the Morris & Essex Lines, Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line. A formal operating plan will be developed over the next several months.

Customers on other rail lines will see benefits, too. As the multi-level fleet enters revenue service, NJ TRANSIT will reassign modern Comet IV and V equipment to replace many 33-year-old Comet I-series cars, the oldest in the fleet. Currently, Comet I cars are used on the Raritan Valley, Main, Bergen County and Pascack Valley lines.

An array of amenities

The cars¿ interior design features large tinted windows, indirect ceiling lighting and soothing blue tones to produce a restful and spacious passenger environment. Each car features an upper and lower seating level, as well as an open, intermediate ¿mezzanine¿ level at each end of the car¿making the cars truly ¿multi-level.¿ The mezzanine features plenty of space for customers who opt to stand¿complete with padded leaning stations¿as well as areas for wheelchairs, carts, strollers and luggage. Fully accessible restrooms are found in this area on more than half of the cars and feature refined finishes and a generous amount of space.

On the upper and lower levels, customers will find seats in a two-by-two configuration¿meaning that every seat is either a ¿window¿ or an ¿aisle.¿ This design ensures that 100 percent of car¿s seats are usable. The two-by-two configuration also results in wider aisles that facilitate passenger boarding and alighting, while making it easier for customers and conductors to move about the train. Four doors on each side of the car will further expedite the boarding process.

The seats themselves received an extraordinary amount of attention from the Customer Design Team, which focused especially on improved lumbar support. In the end, the manufacturer created new seats that are more comfortable, featuring generous amounts of legroom without compromising capacity.

The multi-level cars provide 25.27 inches of knee room¿an inch more than NJ TRANSIT¿s Comet V single-level cars. The seats provide 19.75 inches of width per passenger¿2.2 inches more than the Comet V.

On the upper level, luggage racks run the length of the car. On the lower level, however, the racks were omitted from the design in favor of retractable coat hooks.

Each car features state-of-the-art heating, cooling and ventilation systems for passenger comfort, as well as high-tech automated public address systems and LED destination screens to keep customers informed. Unlike existing rail cars, the multi-levels feature external public address speakers, enabling conductors to make announcements to customers on the platform.

Attention to detail is evident in every car. For example, waste receptacles feature levers so that customers don¿t have to touch the flap. Emergency intercoms are available throughout the car¿including a call-for-assistance button in the restrooms¿and improved anti-skid flooring is featured in the vestibules and restrooms to prevent slips.

The 68-ton stainless steel cars, which fully conform to all federal safety standards, are capable of being used anywhere on the NJ TRANSIT system and were custom designed to match the profile of the 100-year-old Amtrak-owned trans-Hudson tunnels. The NJ TRANSIT model is capable of serving both high-level and low-level platforms.

Access to the Region¿s Core

With the existing rail infrastructure reaching practical capacity during the peak periods, the purchase of multi-level rail cars is one of several near-term solutions to anticipate and meet surging ridership demand between New Jersey and New York. Other enhancements include installation of a high-density signal system between Newark and New York that now allows up to 23 trains per hour to operate through the existing two-track Amtrak-owned tunnel.

Ultimately, the advancement of the Access to the Region¿s Core project is required to address trans-Hudson demand, including construction of a new passenger rail tunnel called the Trans-Hudson Express (THE) Tunnel. The project is one of the highest priorities for NJ TRANSIT, and includes platform extensions and capacity enhancements at the current Penn Station and a new station under 34th Street in Manhattan, as well as track connections to existing lines and rail storage facilities.


NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 779,200 daily trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail routes and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 163 rail stations, 52 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.