Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)

I-580/I-680 Corridor Study

San Francisco Bay Area, California

This is one of a series of studies commissioned by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to evaluate the possible use of Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) technologies as a way to extend regional rapid transit service in various regional corridors by means other than standard BART technology.  Earlier studies of an extension of BART to the City of Livermore using the I-580 freeway median concluded that capital costs would be high, while ridership levels could be disappointing.  However, available abandoned railroad rights-of-way connecting BART to the centers of communities in the Livermore Valley present promising alternatives for quick access between BART and population and job concentrations. 

Railroad rights-of-way, much of them already in public ownership, parallel two major freeway corridors, and focus on the BART Dublin-Pleasanton Station.  These were evaluated for potential application of light and FRA-compliant DMU technologies, as well as improved bus services.  As a subconsultant to Nelson\Nygaard of San Francisco, LTK was responsible for developing the DMU rail concepts, preparing alternative rail operations plans, and evaluating and preparing capital and operations and maintenance cost estimates for the DMU systems.  The study concluded that the DMU alternatives, in comparison to a “traditional” BART extension in the freeway median, would entail lower capital and operating costs, and produce higher ridership, due to the ability of the DMU technologies to accept some non grade-separated segments, while more directly reaching the core market areas and connecting suburban activity centers to one another. 

It is anticipated that the study will progress into a full DEIS/Alternatives Analysis.  

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Los Angeles County MTA

DMU Technical Feasibility Analysis

Los Angeles County, California

LTK analyzed the feasibility of operating Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) trains to provide additional passenger rail service to Los Angeles County residents by either supplementing the existing Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) Metrolink locomotive-haul peak hour service, and/or providing new off-peak service on the LA County portion of three Metrolink corridors -- Ventura County, Antelope Valley and San Bernardino (“DMU overlay service”).

LTK examined the viability of this concept from a variety of perspectives, including:

  • TA3-LACMTADMU vehicle availability,
  • DMU vehicle performance, including fuel efficiency, and emissions profile,
  • DMU fuel options, including clean fuel alternatives,
  • Corridor operational capacity to accept DMU overlay service,
  • Corridor infrastructure improvements needed to support the overlay service,
  • DMU fleet maintenance requirements,
  • Community impacts,
  • Potential funding sources,
  • Overall implementation cost, and
  • Cost effectiveness of the concept as compared to the addition of Metrolink locomotive-hauled rolling stock

Critical assumption in the study were that DMU overlay service must not negatively impact any existing service (Metrolink, Amtrak, or freight) but would operate on frequent headways of at least once per hour in the off-peak. LTK was asked to address the question of whether, given the body of federal regulations, it would be possible to introduce non-compliant vehicle technology (“light DMUs”) in lieu of conventional FRA-compliant DMU vehicles.

Given FRA regulations regarding compliant and non-compliant vehicles on the same track, the only feasible option to operate non-compliant DMUs on the Metrolink Corridors would be to eliminate the simultaneous operation of other trains which do comply with FRA design requirements. To do this, all other freight trains and passenger trains on these lines would have to be re-scheduled so that they would operate at times when the light DMUs are not operating (peak hours and in early morning hours). This temporal separation operating strategy evolved in the 1980s with the introduction of new light rail systems constructed on active freight lines where FRA-regulated freight service operates during late nights and non FRA-compliant light rail operates at all other times.

LTK assessed the operational feasibility of creating the minimum light DMU operating windows needed to complement Metrolink locomotive-hauled train service during non-peak hours.  The analysis found that a minimum of three or four such off-peak DMU trips on an hourly headway are needed to make the service viable, yielding a minimum operating window required for DMU service of about four hours. The analysis went on to investigate whether such operating windows exist or could be created on the three L.A. County corridors under study.    The assessment found that such temporal separation was infeasible given the peak period passenger and freight operating requirements of each Metrolink corridor.

The overall conclusion reached by the report is that the LACMTA should assume that any implementation of DMUs on the three L.A. County Metrolink lines will need to be based on FRA-compliant DMU technology rather than on light, non-compliant DMU technology.

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Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)

East BART Extension

San Francisco Bay Area, California

In 2005 BART planned to extend the service extension from the BART Pittsburg Bay Point station to Byron in Contra Costa County. The project was named “East BART Extension” (eBART). The original plan was to build this extension as a DMU line on an existing UP right of way (ROW). The DMU would have met up with the BART trains at Pittsburg Bay Point, possibly on an elevated structure and then continued in the median of highway 4 to a location east of Railroad Ave. At this location an elaborate flyover was planned to route the alignment out of the median and over to the Mococo UP-ROW.

TA2-EBARTLTK was tasked to investigate different operating scenarios, mainly FRA or non-FRA compliant DMU service between Pittsburg and Byron. As an option a standard electric LRT system was also considered. Run time simulations for each mode were performed to establish pro forma schedules. For each option a ROM project cost estimate was established. These costs included vehicle procurement, wayside systems and maintenance shop costs. The vehicle fleet was sized based on the proposed schedule.  The necessary maintenance shop dimensions were based on the this fleet size.

The cost estimates revealed that a LRT system will be the most expensive option and was not considered further. All further work now related to FRA or non-FRA compliant DMUs with its resulting need for time separation. However, it was difficult to get UP involved in this process. Their participation would have been crucial to establish a viable service plan and to make a decision about compliant or non-compliant operations. Lacking such a decision, FRA compliant and non-compliant options were further developed in parallel for some time.

In 2007 UP decided not to give up any part of the ROW. Additionally the estimated project costs kept rising. As a result, BART decided to scale down the project and build the extension to Hillcrest only. The ROW will now be in the median of highway 4 all the way to Hillcrest, independent of any UP ROW. This basically eliminated the need of an FRA compliant DMU.

In the mean time the diesel fuel price was also rising. Therefore, BART instructed LTK to perform a new project cost estimate as well as an environmental impact study on how a LTR operation, as well as electric commuter rail operation, similar to the investigations currently being done for Caltrain between San Jose and San Francisco, would compare to a non-FRA compliant DMU operation along the new alignment.  LTK performed ROM cost estimates for vehicle procurement, wayside installations such as catenary and substations, system maintenance costs and energy costs for all three options. The commuter rail type operations was found to be too expensive for the expected rider ship on the new eBART alignment and was not further considered.

For the electric and diesel operations, the resulting emissions were calculated. Diesel emissions calculations were based on a Tier 3 compliant DMU, similar to the NCTD or CapMet DMUs

which are capable to run up to 75 mph per design. LRT energy consumption was based on typical LRV, such as the P2550 for LACMTA, scaled up for service at 75 mph instead of 65 mph, after reviewing this option with the responsible carbuilder.  The emissions resulting from an eclectic operation were calculated based on the typical BART power modal split for electric traction power, such as coal, gas, oil, hydro and other renewable energies. A final report of the findings was issued in early 2008. 

In late 2008 LTK was tasked with the writing of a performance based specification for a non compliant DMU operating under CPUC rule rather than FRA. This process also requires to identify possibly need CPUC waivers for some of the non-compliant DMUs such as the NCTD DMU at Oceanside. This process is now ongoing.

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