Bombardier BiLevel Coach

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Bi-Level Coach and Cab Car
Lakeshore West GO Train Westbound.jpg
A GO Transit train with a set of Bombardier BiLevel coaches.
GoTrain UpperDeck.jpg
Interior of a GO Transit BiLevel coach
Manufacturer Hawker Siddeley Canada-SNC Lavalin (Canadian Car and Foundry or Can Car) and UTDC-SNC Lavalin (Can Car), Bombardier Transportation
Built at Fort William (Thunder Bay), Ontario
Constructed 1976–Present
Entered service 1976
Capacity 136 to 162 (seated); 142 in IV series, 276 standees
Operator(s) see article
Car body construction Riveted or welded aluminum body on a steel frame
Car length 85 ft (25.91 m)
Width 9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)
Height 15 ft 11 in (4.85 m)
Doors Pneumatically-operated doors
Weight 50,000 kg (110,000 lb)
Power supply 480 or 575 V HEP
Braking system(s) Pneumatic tread brakes and disc brakes

Bombardier BiLevel coaches are bilevel passenger cars designed to carry up to 360 passengers for commuter railways. These carriages are easily identifiable; they are double-decked and are shaped like elongated octagons.


A Trinity Railway Express train with BiLevel cars.

The BiLevel coaches were designed by Toronto's regional commuter rail service, GO Transit and Hawker Siddeley Canada in the mid-1970s as a more efficient replacement for GO's original single-deck coaches and cab cars.[1] Later coaches were manufactured by Urban Transportation Development Corporation/Can-Car and finally Bombardier, who now owns the designs and manufacturing facility. There are more than seven hundred such coaches in service today and almost all have been built at the company's Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Plattsburgh, New York plants.

Numerous Bilevel coaches layover in Go Transit's Willowbrook yard


The coaches feature an aluminum body on a steel frame. They are 15 ft 11 in (4.85 m) high and 9 ft 10 in (3.00 m) wide, and weigh about 61,000 kg (134,000 lb).[1] Depending on car design and seating configuration, seats are available for between 136 and 162 passengers, along with standing room. All newly built coaches now feature a washroom on the lower level; the original coaches for GO Transit have the washroom on the intermediate level in the same location where the cab is located in cab cars (see below). The coaches have two pairs of doors on each side which allow the entire coach to be emptied in 90 seconds. Some of the newer coaches have electrical outlets for laptop computers and other devices along with small tables.

GO Transit 300 is one of the Bilevel cab cars with a new front design.

One major variant is the cab car. The cab car is placed at the end of the train and features a full cab built into the end of the coach, from which the train's locomotive can be remotely controlled. This allows for push–pull operation with a faster turnaround time for trains, by avoiding having to physically turn around the train or locomotive. Unlike the similar Driving Van Trailer used by Britain's InterCity 225, the cab cars are otherwise identical to the regular coaches rather than imitating the design of the locomotive, leading to the appearance that the train is travelling 'backwards'. In 2014 Metrolinx (the provincial agency operating GO Transit) and Bombardier announced a new design for the cab car, which included a larger cab end and crash-energy management crumple zones.[2]

Most of these coaches use a 480 volt head end power (HEP) system for heating, lighting, and air conditioning. The only exception to this is with GO Transit which uses a 575 volt system (575 volts is a standard industrial Canadian voltage, having been previously used by CN for their Tempo cars — also built by HS). Whenever GO has leased coaches to other agencies, a power unit has been supplied with the coaches, or when GO has leased coaches from other agencies, a locomotive with 480 volt HEP capabilities was also leased. Amtrak, Via Rail and the Réseau de transport métropolitain also use 480 volt HEP (480 volt is a standard industrial U.S. voltage).


Model Operators Builder Notes
Bi-Level I coach GO Transit,[3] Metrolink (Southern California) Hawker Siddeley Canada/Can Car
Bi-Level II coach GO Transit, Metrolink, Trinity Railway Express, Coaster (San Diego) Hawker Siddeley Canada/Can Car
Bi-Level III coach GO Transit, Metrolink, Tri-Rail, Urban Transportation Development Corporation/Can Car
Bi-Level IV coach GO Transit Urban Transportation Development Corporation/Can Car
Bi-Level V coach GO Transit Urban Transportation Development Corporation/Can Car
Bi-Level VI coach GO Transit, West Coast Express (some leased to GO Transit), Sounder commuter rail, New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Altamont Commuter Express, Trinity Railway Express, Caltrain Bombardier Transportation
Bi-Level VII coach GO Transit, FrontRunner, Réseau de transport métropolitain, Northstar Commuter Rail, SunRail Bombardier Transportation
Bi-Level VIII coach GO Transit, Sounder commuter rail Bombardier Transportation


BiLevel coach in service with South Florida's Tri-Rail.
The interior of a Metrolink coach heading towards San Bernardino, California
The interior of a Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner train
The seating in a New Mexico Rail Runner Express coach.

Many commuter rail agencies have adopted the Bombardier BiLevel Coach for use in their fleets. They include:

Operator Location Fleet size Notes
Altamont Commuter Express San Jose, California 24 cars [4]
Caltrain San Francisco, California 41 cars
Coaster San Diego, California 28 cars [5][6]
FrontRunner Salt Lake City, Utah 22 cars [7]
GO Transit Greater Toronto Area, Ontario 656 cars [8]
Metrolink Greater Los Angeles Area, California 147 cars [9][10]
Northstar Line Minneapolis, Minnesota 18 cars
Rail Runner Express Albuquerque, New Mexico 22 cars [11]
Réseau de transport métropolitain Montreal, Quebec 22 cars [12]
Sounder Seattle, Washington 58 cars [13]
SunRail Orlando, Florida 20 cars [14]
Tri-Rail Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach, Florida 26 cars [6][15]
Trinity Railway Express Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 17 cars [6][16]
West Coast Express Vancouver, British Columbia 44 cars [17]

Similar units[edit]

Kawasaki also manufactures a similar product and it is used on diesel lines of the Long Island Rail Road, the MARC Train system in Maryland, MBTA Commuter Rail in the Boston area, and, formerly, Virginia Railway Express. VRE has since sold their cars to MARC. Bombardier's Görlitz, Germany plant manufactures another type of double deck train car, the Bombardier Double-deck Coach.

Bombardier has also designed and is manufacturing the MultiLevel coach for New Jersey Transit, MARC and the Montreal-area Réseau de transport métropolitain. This car is constructed of stainless steel similar to the Kawasaki cars purchased by the agencies listed above, but is built to a much tighter loading gauge, being only 14 feet 6 inches (4.42 m) tall.

List of rival coaches:

See also[edit]

  • Train 48 - a Canadian TV show that used a 64' replica Bi-Level car for train interior scenes


  1. ^ a b "The Bi-Level Coaches (1977-?) - Transit Toronto - Content". Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  2. ^ "The Bi-Level Coaches (1977-?) - Transit Toronto - Content". Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "The Bi-Level Coaches (1977-?) - Transit Toronto - Content". Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  4. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  6. ^ a b c "Friends of SMART". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  7. ^ " - CBSi". Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  8. ^ "Info to GO" (PDF). GO Transit. September 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  9. ^ "Metrolink". Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  10. ^ Equipment Archived April 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ " - CBSi". Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  12. ^ "roster_amt - kellergraham". Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  13. ^ Sounder Archived September 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "They're here! First SunRail cab car arrives in Sanford". Archived from the original on 2014-09-08. Retrieved 2017-01-11. 
  15. ^ Tri-Rail Commuter Train Archived March 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Train Facts Archived February 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "History of Regional Transit at Vancouver, British Columbia". Retrieved 11 January 2017. 

External links[edit]