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New level of capacity, comfort and convenience begins December 11

October 11, 2006
Contact: Penny Bassett Hackett or
Dan Stessel 973 491-7078

NEWARK, NJ — After months of extensive testing, NJ TRANSIT will place the first multilevel train into service on December 11 for customers on the Northeast Corridor between Trenton and New York.

“These cars provide much needed capacity to meet our growing demand while we build the Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel,” said NJ TRANSIT Chairman and Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri. “We look forward to customers coming aboard.”

"The Port Authority was proud to partner with NJ TRANSIT by providing $250 million for the first 100 multilevel rail cars," said Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia. "That investment was the precursor to our landmark contribution to Trans-Hudson Express (THE) Tunnel project, which we believe will serve as our generation's George Washington Bridge—a transportation project that is a cornerstone of economic growth for the region."

In December, NJ TRANSIT will have nine multilevel cars available for service. The delivery schedule calls for the manufacturer, Bombardier Transportation, to produce seven cars per month from February 2007 until July 2007 and 10 cars per month thereafter until all 234 are on the property. As they are delivered and tested, the new cars will replace single-level cars where they are needed most—on NJ TRANSIT’s busiest rail lines: the Northeast Corridor, the North Jersey Coast Line and MidTOWN DIRECT service.

“These cars are special because our customers and our employees had early input into the design,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director George D. Warrington. “While adding capacity, we are able to give customers a new level of comfort with two-by-two seating, as well as more legroom, better lighting and updated restroom amenities.”

“We are pleased to be supplying these custom-designed, technologically-advanced, multilevel rail cars to NJ TRANSIT, and proud to be part of NJ TRANSIT's vision to provide enhanced and reliable service between New Jersey and New York," said Francois Auger, Vice President, Project Management and Customer Service for Bombardier Transportation, North America. "We look forward to seeing all of the vehicles delivered and in revenue service.”

A new level of input

At every phase, customers participated in the design of the new rail cars. A Customer Design Team, composed of 14 NJ TRANSIT commuters from across the system, worked with the manufacturer to provided feedback on interior design, onboard amenities, seat design, and color and fabric selection. Their participation included a September 2003 trip to a Montreal manufacturing plant for a firsthand inspection of a mock-up of the car.

More than any other feature, the cars’ seats received considerable attention from the Customer Design Team, which recommended modifications to improve comfort and lumbar support. In the end, the manufacturer redesigned the seats to be more comfortable, providing generous amounts of legroom without reducing capacity.

A new level of capacity

The fleet of 234 multilevel rail cars offers 15-20 percent more seating capacity than single-level cars, providing additional seats for customers on NJ TRANSIT’s busiest rail lines. A typical 10-car multilevel train will provide 225 more seats than a 10-car train using single-level Comet V cars.

The 234 multilevel car order consists of:

  • 86 coach cars (with ADA restrooms) with 132 seats
  • 33 cab cars (with ADA restrooms) with 127 seats
  • 115 coach cars (without restrooms) with 142 seats

A new level of testing and quality

Before the first customer steps aboard, each multilevel car will be subjected to a rigorous testing process, including 51 qualification tests on everything from doors, communication equipment, noise, vibration and clearance. The first four prototype cars each logged approximately 10,000 miles at speeds of up to 135 mph at the Transportation Technology Center test track in Pueblo, Colorado. Sandbags and water barrels have been positioned inside the first multilevel test cars in New Jersey to match or exceed the weight of a full load of passengers for brake, power and ride-quality testing under real-world conditions.

A new level of comfort and convenience

Designed for customers by customers who worked with engineers for the rail cars’ manufacturer, the multilevel cars provide 25.27 inches of knee room—a full inch more than Comet V single-level cars—and 2.2 inches more seat width than Comet V seats.

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 “multilevel.” 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, seats are arranged 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 crewmembers to move about the train. Four doors on each side of the car will further expedite the boarding process.

Each car features high-tech automated public address systems and LED destination screens to keep customers informed. Unlike existing rail cars, the multilevels feature external public address speakers, enabling conductors to make announcements to customers on the platform. 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 Hudson River tunnels. The cars are able to serve both high-level and low-level platform stations.

As the multilevel fleet enters revenue service, NJ TRANSIT will reassign modern Comet IV and V equipment to replace many 34-year-old Comet I-series cars, the oldest in the fleet. Currently, Comet I cars are used on the Main, Bergen County, Pascack Valley, Montclair-Boonton and Morristown lines.

A new level of training

Extensive training of engineers and maintenance personnel has been underway at NJ TRANSIT’s Meadows Maintenance Complex in Kearny since the spring, including classroom and hands-on instruction in the operation and maintenance of the cars. Conductors, assistant conductors and ticket collectors will receive training over the next several weeks, including familiarization with the multilevel cars’ onboard safety and communication systems, as well as ticket collection. Onboard crews also will participate during the dynamic testing phase to gain experience with onboard systems and door operation.


NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing nearly 857,000 weekday trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 162 rail stations, 60 light rail stations and more than 18,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.