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New BiLevel coaches and cab cars for San Diego’s North County Transit District Coaster service


The North County Transit District (NCTD) of San Diego, California, has confirmed an order for eleven new commuter rail cars for its Coaster service from Bombardier Transportation.

Valued at approximately $43 million (£34 million), the order includes eight BiLevel coaches and two cab cars, as well as an additional cab car. NCTD also has the option to purchase up to 27 additional cars to support its replacement programme for older vehicles. 

With the purchase of these rail cars, NCTD will be in a position to significantly increase service frequencies to 30-minute headways and begin ‘state of good repair’ replacement of current legacy Coaster coaches and cab cars over the coming years.

NCTD currently operates a fleet of seven locomotives and 28 Bombardier BiLevel cars on the San Diego Subdivision to support Coaster operations from Oceanside to downtown San Diego. Currently, the Coaster rail service provides 22 regularly scheduled weekday trips and eight weekend trips. Headways between trains vary from 45 to 60 minutes during peak periods and more than 3.5 hours during the non-peak period.

With the addition of the new equipment, NCTD will be able to implement significantly increased frequencies.  Peak period frequencies will be increased to 30-minute headways and non-peak period frequencies will be increased to 60-minute headways. This will result in 42 trains per day, nearly doubling the current service.

Tony Kranz, NCTD.

Tony Kranz, NCTD chairman, said: “As we look to the future, NCTD will be in a position to continue moving forward, offering customers an outstanding riding experience and providing increased service along the rail line.

“With these two additional trainsets in the fleet, commuters will have a number of train runs throughout the day to meet their needs; and that really makes the decision to try transit an easy one.”

First introduced in 1978, the BiLevel car is the most popular double-deck commuter rail car in North America and is in operation with 14 transportation authorities across the United States and Canada.

The latest evolution of the BiLevel cars include a Crash Energy Management system, full width cab, upgrades to air conditioning systems and enhancements to passenger amenities such as power outlets and USB ports at seats, more comfortable seating, electronic door systems, LED lighting and electronic bells. A more aerodynamic cab car and new lighting will reduce fuel consumption and increase energy efficiency.

Elliot G. (Lee) Sander, Bombardier Transportation.

“We’re confident that our new BiLevel cars for the Coaster commuter rail fleet, with their enhanced technical features and passenger amenities, will provide exceptional service and meet passengers’ evolving expectations,” said Elliot G. (Lee) Sander, president, Americas Region, Bombardier Transportation.

“We’re pleased to continue our long-term partnership with NCTD, not only as the manufacturer of BiLevel cars but also as the operations and maintenance provider for both the Coaster and Sprinter rail services. We’re proud to be working with our valued customer to provide safe and reliable transportation for the citizens of San Diego County.”

The new cars will be built at Bombardier’s manufacturing site in Thunder Bay, Canada. Deliveries are scheduled to take place in the autumn of 2022. After testing and commissioning, the cars will begin to enter service that winter. 


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