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


The BiLevel coaches were originally 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 diesel multiple units. Later coaches were manufactured by Urban Transportation Development Corporation/Can-Car and finally Bombardier, who now own 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 Baymarker Plant.


The coaches feature a riveted aluminum body on a steel frame. They are high and wide, and weigh about . Depending on car design and seating configuration, seats are available for between 136 and 162 passengers, along with standing room. All coaches now feature a washroom on the lower level; the original coaches for GO Transit had 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'.

Most of these coaches use a 480 volt HEP system for heating, lighting, and air conditioning. The only exception to this is with GO Transit which uses a 575 volt system. It is for this reason that whenever GO has leased coaches to other agencies, a power unit went with the coaches, or when GO has leased coaches from other agencies, a locomotive with 480 volt HEP capabilities was leased as well. VIA Rail and the Agence métropolitaine de transport also use 480 volt HEP


Model Operators Notes
Bi-Level I coach GO Transit, Metrolink originally built by HSC/Can Car
Bi-Level II coach GO Transit, Metrolink , Trinity Railway Express originally built by HSC/Can Car
Bi-Level III coach GO Transit, Metrolink , Tri-Rail originally built by UTDC/Can Car
Bi-Level IV coach GO Transit originally built by Urban Transportation Development Corporation/Can Car
Bi-Level V coach GO Transit
Bi-Level VI coach GO Transit, Caltrain, West Coast Express (some leased to GO Transit), Sounder commuter rail, New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Altamont Commuter Express, Trinity Railway Express
Bi-Level VII coach GO Transit, FrontRunner, Agence métropolitaine de transport, Northstar Commuter Rail, CalTrain

Bi-Level specifications

  • Car Builder: Hawker Siddeley Canada-SNC Lavalin (Can Car) and UTDC-SNC Lavalin (Can Car), Bombardier Transportation
  • Car Body: Aluminum on steel underframe
  • Unit Numbers:
  • Fleet of:
  • Car Length:
  • Car Width:
  • Car Height:
  • Track Gauge:
  • Total Weight:
  • Propulsion System: None
  • Motors:
  • Power:
  • Braking System:
  • Total Seating:
  • Coupling/Numbering Arrangement:
  • Air Conditioning System:
  • Price per car N/A


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

Operator Fleet size Notes
Agence métropolitaine de transport (Montrealmarker, Quebecmarker) 22 cars
Altamont Commuter Express (San Josemarker, Californiamarker) 24 cars
Caltrain (San Franciscomarker, California) 25 cars
Coaster (San Diegomarker, California) 28 cars ,
FrontRunner (Salt Lake Citymarker, Utahmarker) 22 cars
GO Transit (Greater Toronto Area, Hamiltonmarker, Ontariomarker and surrounding areas) 470 cars
Metrolink (Greater Los Angeles) 261 cars ,
Northstar Commuter Rail (Minneapolismarker, Minnesotamarker) 17 cars
Rail Runner Express (Albuquerquemarker, New Mexicomarker) 10 cars
Sounder (Seattlemarker, Washingtonmarker) 58 cars
Tri-Rail (Miamimarker/Fort Lauderdalemarker/West Palm Beachmarker, Floridamarker) 26 cars
Trinity Railway Express (Dallasmarker - Fort Worthmarker, Texasmarker) 17 cars ,
Virginia Railway Express (Washington, D.C.marker - Northern Virginia) 12 cars - leased from Sounder, since returned
West Coast Express (Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker) 37 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 Marylandmarker, MBTA Commuter Rail in the Boston area, and, formerly, Virginia Railway Express. VRE has since sold their cars to MARC.

Bombardier has also designed and is manufacturing the MultiLevel coach for New Jersey Transit and Agence Métropolitaine de Transport. 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 operating envelope, being only 14 feet, 6 inches tall.

List of rival coaches:

  • Canadian Vickers Commuter Cab Car
  • Kawasaki L2 Double-Deck Coaches
  • Kawasaki L3 Double-Deck Coaches

See also


  1. Bi-Level Coaches (1978-)
  2. The Bi-level coaches
  3. The Bi-level Coaches
  4. AMT Current Fleet
  5. Fleet Specifications
  6. Commute Fleet
  7. Bombardier receives bi-level commuter car order for the San Diego, California area
  8. Friends of SMART
  9. FrontRunner on the front burner: Utah's new commuter rail system is expected to be a leading transportation option for the Salt Lake City region
  10. Metrolink Roster
  11. Equipment
  12. Bombardier Rolls Out First BiLevel Commuter Car for New Commuter Rail Line in New Mexico, USA
  13. Sounder
  14. Tri-Rail Commuter Train
  15. Train Facts
  16. Vancouver Regional Transit

External links

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