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#264812 - 09/09/02 04:07 AM M-7 Train of the Future
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From the New York Times....

Quote:
'Train of the Future' Soon to Approach Stations on L.I.R.R. and Metro-North
By BRUCE LAMBERT


One fan calls it the commuter's "train of the future."

It has onboard pay telephones, ergonomic seats, more legroom, picture windows with tinted panes, smoother suspension, back-up air-conditioners, automated station announcements, no-flicker lighting, coat hooks that flip out from the wall and even curved corners to keep dirt from accumulating.

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The car, a model known as the M-7, will literally be the train of the future for hundreds of thousands of commuters in the region. Within four years, most passengers on the Long Island Rail Road and many on the Metro-North Railroad will be riding in M-7 cars.

Already the first of these trains is running on the railroad, and it has plenty of empty seats. In fact, they're all empty. For now, no passengers are allowed inside the factory-fresh stainless steel train. Special crews are still taking the computerized cars on on daily test runs.

"Microprocessors control everything right down to the toilet," David J. Elliott, the railroad's general manager, said yesterday during a demonstration for the news media.

As soon as the train passes inspection next month, railroad officials hope it will go into regular service. And then assembly lines in Plattsburgh, N.Y., will begin churning out cars at the rate of 20 a month for the next few years. By 2006, the M-7 will make up about three-fourths of the Long Island fleet. Metro-North is scheduled to get 180 cars in 2004, nearly half its electric trains.

"We're going to go from having the oldest fleet in the Northeast to having the newest," said the railroad's president, Kenneth J. Bauer, adding that the M-7's would be the biggest change since the Rockefeller administration added new cars cars from 1968 to 1972.

With the new cars, more trains will be in service, longer trains will run and more spare cars will be available to fill in when repairs are needed, railroad officials say. They expect fewer of the breakdowns, delays and cancellations that have been a sore spot for Long Island commuters.

"You're also going to get a better ride," Mr. Bauer said. The M-7's have compressed-air springs. On yesterday's demonstration ride from Jamaica to Manhattan, he stood for most of the trip, with little of the swaying, jostling and lurching so familiar to veteran commuters.

A dummy with more than 100 electronic pressure points was used to design the seats. Among the results are enhanced headrests and lumbar supports. Stations are announced on digital signs and in voice recordings. The cars have back-up power supply, more weather-resistant motors and brighter, steady internal lights.

Focus groups and railroad crews helped shape the M-7. The exterior looks only cosmetically different, since the 85-foot cars still have to fit the same tracks and tunnels. The train's front has a shiny black skin.

"It really looks like a train of the future," said Barbara Josepher, chairwoman of the railroad's Commuter's Council, an official advisory board. That future is a long one; the M-7's projected life is at least 30 years.

Inside, the touches include emergency intercoms for passengers, two-tone blue upholstery, slip-resistant floors and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms that feature trash receptacles with air controls to snuff out illicit cigarette butts.

All the electronic innards, with 48 software platforms, are invisible to riders. The engineer driving the train has computer screens that monitor everything from the brakes to toilet retention tanks. Crew members with laptop computers can do the same from any car. The railroad's headquarters can also monitor remotely.

Bombardier of Canada is the prime contractor, but the trucks are built in Germany, the bathrooms in Spain and the motors in Japan.

M-7's carry a hefty price tag: $2.3 million per car for initial purchases and $1.7 million for later ones, after the design cost is paid. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has approved $1.6 billion in capital funds to buy 858 cars for the two railroads so far, and they hope to get about 400 more later on.

The M-7 has one major drawback: it seats an average of 13 fewer passengers per car, a concern for lines whose trains are overcrowded with passengers who are standing, especially since congestion at the East River tunnel and Pennsylvania Station limit the number of peak trains. The railroad plans to run more trains to Brooklyn and Hunters Point until it gains access to Grand Central Terminal a move that will relieve the problem.

Critics are cautiously optimistic. "Hopefully they've learned their lessons from the past," said Lawrence Silverman, a former commuter council chairman. He said the railroad's last purchase, bilevel diesel trains built by another manufacturer before Mr. Bauer took over, "was an unmitigated disaster."

The president of an independent group, Peter Haynes of the L.I.R.R. Commuters Campaign, said of the M-7: "I hope it has far fewer defects. It's sorely needed and long overdue."

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#264813 - 09/13/02 11:18 AM Re: M-7 Train of the Future
SmoothR46/62 Offline
Straphanger

Registered: 01/28/02
Posts: 269
Loc: Bronx N.Y
WOW! I did't know it had that much technology into it AMAZING and yet INTRIGUING

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