6.1.17

REDISCOVERING THEIR INTERURBAN ROOTS.

The technical term these days is "electric multiple units," but the point of the phrasing is to note that the electric cars can run as units, or in multiples.  It appears as though the Germans are rediscovering the idea, as applied to their souped-up Electroliners.
Siemens has implemented a radical new concept for the Deutsche Bahn’s ICE 4 high-speed train. All of the cars now operate as independent units and can be combined to form trains with anything from five to 14 cars. The ICE 4 trains will start operating officially in 2017.

On September 14, Siemens and Deutsche Bahn unveiled the first complete ICE 4 train in Berlin. Siemens built the new high-speed train in cooperation with its partner, Bombardier. One of the key new features of the ICE 4 is its drive concept. Siemens developed a powered railcar (or “powercar”) that contains all of the drive technology. Six such powercars are needed to drive a 12-part ICE 4, for example, while the other six cars are not motorized. In the predecessor mode, the ICE 3, three cars together formed a fixed drive unit.
Think of consists with power cars and trailer cars, with the additional limitation that the leading and trailing cars retain the distinctive streamlined noses.
Five different types of cars are available for modular composition of the five to 14-part trains: the end unit, the powercar, the center car, the dining car, and the service car (including family areas, wheelchair spaces, etc.). The interiors of the cars can also be very flexibly arranged. The center cars are basically nothing but empty tubes that can be equipped according to the customer’s wishes as either first-class or second-class cars with different seat spacing or adjustable seats on rails.
The ability to do adds or cuts midtrain is going to change the habits of German passengers, wherein all the cars for one destination are together, and separated by two end units from the cars for another destination, as at Frankfurt Flughafen.


On the other hand, it's not quite the way the Metroliners did things.  The normal rake was six cars (one or two parlors, one Metrocafe, the rest coaches) although it was possible to set up consists of four or eight.  And it's surely not the interurban way, which until recently involved adds or cuts at Michigan City.


And once upon a time, trains also did adds or cuts at Gary.


During the rush hours, the South Shore Line paired trains, with limited trains dropping Michigan City expresses eastbound or adding Michigan City to Gary expresses westbound to move passengers.  We don't do this any more, because Federal regulations require extensive inspections of the brakes.  I think the Germans understand that adding and cutting multiple unit cars is what multiple unit cars do, and their railroaders won't be encumbered by procedures that defeat all the conveniences adding and cutting will bring.

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