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A tour of the DMU Interior

On July 14, 2003, Michelle and I ventured to Portland, OR Union Station to meet up with Colorado Railcar for a semi-private viewing of the DMU demonstrator, CRMX 2002, as it passed through town on the tail end of Amtrak's Coast Starlight train. The car was on its way from a demonstration in California to a special tour on the Alaska Railroad. Hopes are high for the folks at CRM, as the idea was originally fostered by the ARR's voiced desire for a modern option to the aging Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDC) used on some of the more remote lines that the ARR provides passenger service to.

Following delays the day before, the Starlight was running late, and was expected to be over an hour later than its scheduled 4:20 arrival time. With an expected ETA of 5:35, we were quite surprised when a horn at 5:05 signaled the train's arrival, crossing the street near the station.

The Starlight was a long train, so we had a short wait before the DMU rolled into view. I haven't been impressed by the lines of the aero cab in the photos I'd seen thus far, but in person the car exuded an air of speed and elegance. I was duly impressed. I have been told that the DMU is a direct descendant of the single level ultradomes built for Florida Fun Train and BC Rail. One look affirms that statement. After introducing ourselves to the person riding with the car, we got down to the business of touring the interior. One of the first things I noticed with the doors open was the reinforcements along the middle of the door, which extend along the side of the car a way as well.

Looking toward the front of the DMU from the entrance in the center of the car, you can see some of the seating amenities offered by Colorado Railcar. Remember, the 2002 is configured as a demonstrator, so a typical service car won't display the variety that this car shows.

The silver backed chairs are basic commuter seating, while the larger leather chairs are for first class service.

A closer look at the commuter chairs. They weren't really all that uncomfortable, but they may be a bit trying during a long commute. Still, I thought that they were a little more comfortable than the average vinyl seat on some of the Bombardier cars. Note the reader board, one of several scattered throughout the car. In theory, they can be used to display approaching station information, etc. The photo on the wall is one of several proposed paint schemes that CRM has presented to various commuter agencies throughout the country.

Michelle took a seat in the first class section, and gave it a thumbs up. The coach type seats rotate around to face each other (as shown in the row opposite Michelle) and also lean back a little bit. (I think). I liked the headrests.

With the Ultradome type windows (which are an option on DMU orders) every seat in the house offers a fantastic view to riders, which should help pass the time during any trip. Note the emergency window.

The DMU is operated from this sleek, modern looking cab console. Though the windows look small from the outside, the view is quite spacious as you can see. The controls are very similar to a modern diesel locomotive. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to really study the electrical panels on the side of the console. Perhaps in the future I can get someone from CRM to help navigate that part.

The back half of the 2002 is filled with these four top table seats, which can be used for bistro or meal service. I liked the way that the seats lined up with the windows, giving a great view from every table.

One important amenity on the DMU as well as many other CRM products is the handicap accessibility. The closest booth to the door is abbreviated, with wheelchair tiedowns on the side closest to the camera (and the door.)

Directly across from the wheelchair tiedown spots is this spacious ADA-compliant restroom that puts other commuter potties to shame. The roominess and sink appointments reflect Colorado Railcar's history as a luxury car builder.

All too soon, it was time to deboard and let the train continue on its way. Turnaround time on the Starlight had been trimmed to a lean 15 minutes, so we allowed ourselves only 10 to soak in the view and form our opinions. All in all, the car shows the same quality workmanship that I have seen on other CRM products. And the wraparound windows really add a festive atmosphere to what could be an otherwise dreary commute.

I wonder, though, how much acceptance the windows and their hefty replacement price tag will find in a world where vandalism is a reality, and many people can't show respect for anything, regardless of the cost...

We headed off of the Portland Union Station platform with the intent of getting a shot of the DMU in full sunlight as it departed. But we were far from the end of the station when the Coast Starlight whistled off to begin the final leg of its two day journey from Los Angeles to Seattle. The sleek lines of the car made the train appear to be moving very quickly as it slid between the platforms, out from alongside one of the Cascades Talgo sets and on north.

I suspect that the DMU will be received well. Already, a commuter agency in Orlando, Fla. has placed an order for a complete set to study the concept further. As the first car to meet the FRA crashworthiness standards, and as an all-American built car, DMU at least stands a chance of being a standup favorite among competitors in the increasingly fierce commuter market. Colorado Railcar's choice of using proven industry components in the trucks, transmissions and power plant will probably also ring well with cost-conscious agencies that operate on a shoestring budget.

I hope that you have enjoyed this up close and personal tour through Colorado Railcar's DMU demonstrator 2002. I look forward to touring more DMU products in the future.

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