New Jersey Transit
Home > NJ TRANSIT News > News Releases


Rail cars dedicated to Trenton, Hamilton, West Windsor, Edison, Rahway, Woodbridge, Elizabeth, Newark and Summit

November 15, 2006
Contact: Penny Bassett Hackett or
Dan Stessel 973 491-7078

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — NJ TRANSIT dedicated its first multilevel rail cars to nine communities served by the state’s commuter rail system. At a ceremony today during the League of Municipalities gathering at the Atlantic City Convention Center, the cars were dedicated in recognition of the strong ties between NJ TRANSIT and the host communities of Trenton, Hamilton, West Windsor, Edison, Rahway, Woodbridge, Elizabeth, Newark and Summit.

Each of the 234 multilevel cars will display a commemorative plaque in honor of a community served by the rail network as they are delivered over the next two years.

“These municipalities recognize the importance of public transportation—both to their own residents and to New Jersey as a whole,” said Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, Chairman of the Transportation and Public Works Committee, who suggested the idea of a dedication program. “We are honoring both the municipalities and the important role NJ TRANSIT plays in the communities it serves.”

The first multilevel train is scheduled to make its debut for customers on December 11 with a trip on the Northeast Corridor from Trenton to New York Penn Station.

“In a time of record-high ridership levels, these cars will represent a new level of capacity and convenience for our customers,” said New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri.

“The fleet of multilevel rail cars is a critical step to provide near-term capacity relief while we work to build the Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director George D. Warrington. “This investment will provide the capacity to meet growing ridership and relieve congestion on our roads and highways.”

“These cars stand out from our single-level rail cars in a number of ways,” said NJ TRANSIT Board Member Flora Castillo, who hosted today’s event. “Along with an array of customer-inspired amenities, they are the first NJ TRANSIT cars to offer a two-by-two seating configuration that eliminates the middle seat.”

A new level of capacity

The multilevel cars offer 15-20 percent more seating capacity than the latest generation of single-level cars, enabling NJ TRANSIT to accommodate more customers within the confines of existing infrastructure that is approaching its practical capacity.

As the new cars are delivered and tested, the multilevel fleet will be used for additional service and to replace some single-level cars on NJ TRANSIT’s busiest rail lines—the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line and MidTOWN DIRECT service on the Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton lines.

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 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. Their decision to make the seat backs stationary yielded more legroom without reducing capacity.

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.

“Customers will immediately notice—and appreciate—the fact that these cars eliminate the middle seat,” said NJ TRANSIT Board member Flora Castillo. “The two-by-two seating layout is just one of the many features incorporated into the cars to make for a more pleasant commuting experience.”

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 all of the 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 testing and training

Extensive training of engineers and maintenance personnel has been underway at NJ TRANSIT’s Meadows Maintenance Complex since the spring, including classroom and hands-on training. Conductors, assistant, conductors and ticket collectors have also received training, including familiarization with the multilevel cars’ onboard safety and communication systems.

Every system and component of the new cars has been rigorously tested at the manufacturing plant, at the Transportation Technology Center test track in Pueblo, Colorado and on all electrified segments of the NJ TRANSIT rail system. The 68-ton stainless steel cars meet all federal safety standards.

“Testing is going well and we’re on schedule to introduce multilevel service next month,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director George Warrington. “Four of the prototype cars logged 40,000 miles on the test tracks in Colorado at speeds of up to 135 miles per hour. In addition, the cars we have on hand have been subjected to a multitude of tests during 20,000 miles of operation on NJ TRANSIT tracks, with tests covering everything from braking, clearance, acceleration, electrical systems, communications and doors.”

Every multilevel car will be tested on NJ TRANSIT tracks before entering revenue service.


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.