Bombardier BiLevel Coach

The Bombardier BiLevel Coach is a bilevel passenger railcar built by multiple manufacturers: Hawker Siddeley Canada-SNC Lavalin, the Canadian Car and Foundry (Can Car), the UTDC-SNC Lavalin, and Bombardier Transportation. They are 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.

Bi-Level Coach and Cab Car
A GO Transit train with Bombardier BiLevel coaches
Interior of a New Mexico Rail Runner Express coach
ManufacturerHawker Siddeley Canada-SNC Lavalin (Can Car) and UTDC-SNC Lavalin , Bombardier Transportation
Built atFort William (Thunder Bay), Ontario
Entered service1976
Capacity136 to 162 (seated); 142 in IV series, 276 standees
Operator(s)see article
Car body constructionRiveted or welded aluminum body on a steel frame
Car length85 ft (25.91 m)
Width9 ft 10 in (2.997 m)
Height15 ft 11 in (4.851 m)
DoorsPneumatically-operated doors
Weight50,000 kg (110,000 lb)
Power supply480 or 575 V HEP
Braking system(s)Pneumatic tread brakes and disc brakes


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.


The coaches feature an aluminum body on a steel frame. They are 15 ft 11 in (4.851 m) high and 9 ft 10 in (2.997 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.

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] Sounder Commuter Rail has also purchased this type of cab car. This new series of BiLevel Cabcar are currently and eventually planned to replace all the older generation BiLevel Cabcars on both commuter rail services, those of which will be converted to normal coaches.

Most operators 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 Exo 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, Caltrain, Trinity Railway Express, Coaster (San Diego) Hawker Siddeley Canada/Can Car
Bi-Level III coach GO Transit, Metrolink, Tri-Rail, UTDC/Can Car
Bi-Level IV coach GO Transit UTDC/Can Car
Bi-Level V coach GO Transit UTDC/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 Corridor Express, Trinity Railway Express, Caltrain Bombardier Transportation
Bi-Level VII coach GO Transit, FrontRunner, Northstar Commuter Rail, SunRail, Trinity Railway Express Bombardier Transportation
Bi-Level VIII coach GO Transit, Sounder commuter rail Bombardier Transportation
Bi-Level IX coach GO Transit, Sounder commuter rail Bombardier Transportation


Many North American commuter rail agencies operate Bombardier BiLevel Coaches. They include:

Image Operator Location Fleet size Notes
Altamont Corridor 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 184 cars [9][10]
Northstar Line Minneapolis, Minnesota 18 cars
Rail Runner Express Albuquerque, New Mexico 22 cars [11]
Sounder Seattle, Washington 58 cars [12]
SunRail Orlando, Florida 20 cars [13]
Tri-Rail Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach, Florida 26 cars [6][14]
Trinity Railway Express Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 17 cars [6][15]
West Coast Express Vancouver, British Columbia 44 cars [16]
Exo Montreal, Quebec 22 cars

Similar units

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. However, 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 Exo. 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

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


  1. "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. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2008-09-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "Friends of SMART". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  6. " - CBSi". Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  7. "Info to GO" (PDF). GO Transit. September 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  8. "Metrolink". Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  9. Equipment Archived April 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  10. " - CBSi". Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  11. Sounder Archived September 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  12. "They're here! First SunRail cab car arrives in Sanford". Archived from the original on 2014-09-08. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  13. Tri-Rail Commuter Train Archived March 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  14. Train Facts Archived February 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  15. "History of Regional Transit at Vancouver, British Columbia". Retrieved 11 January 2017.
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