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A round trip abroad the Colorado Rail DMU Fullerton to Irvine 6/27/2003

by Chris Guenzler

When I took this picture of the Colorado Rail Company's DMU in April, I wondered if and when I would get a chance to ride this unique rail vehicle. Flip forward to the present and the DMU was going to be on display at Fullerton over the weekend of 6/28-6/29/03. I was going to ride the Metrolink Line and stopped off at the Trainweb Offices on the second floor of the Fullerton Train Station and learned that Trainweb had been invited to ride the DMU's demonstration trip from Fullerton to Irvine. I asked if I could ride and Ray told me yes. Ray and I went out to get lunch for us and Shivam then waited for the train to show up.

About 12:15 the DMU, a Metrolink Coach 199 and Metrolink 800, the newly acquired from Amtrak F-40PH pulled in on Track 1 closest to the station. Steve joined us and after a few pictures and getting our name tags we boarded the Colorado Rail Car DMU.

The DMU we rode was a Self Propelled Commuter Rail Car. It has an Operator Control Cab at one end designed for driver comfort and ready access to controls. There are closed circuit TV monitor displays of entry stairwells. The view is excellent and is centered over the center of the tracks.

The first sets of seats were examples of First Class Seating with plush leather seating reclines with adjustable headrests and armrests. These seats are very comfortable and wide.

The next seating area was an example of Standard Transit Seating. This is where we were seated with these seats comfortable, durable and cantilevered mounting from the side wall. The windows wrap over the top of the car for excellent viewing.

The center of this car has the entryway features with high or low boarding with the first step 18 inches above the rail. The doors are pneumatically operated two-leaf sliding pocket door per side. You can have an optional ADA wall mounted lift available. On the left hand side going back is an ADA Complaint Restroom. I used these at Irvine finding it easy to use and liked the water control which you can turn on with your elbow freeing your hands to just hand washing. Across from this is a wheelchair tie-down area. Next on the left is a service bar with a microwave, stainless steel sink and lockable storage lockers. The seating here is Business Class Seating with tables, laptop plug-ins and comfortable executive seating. On the end walls in each section are message boards and the headroom is excellent.

The DMU is powered by two 600 horsepower Detroit Diesel engines, an electronic DDEC engine management system with an overhead cam fuel injected engine. Parts for the engine are available nationwide and the engine is EPA complaint for 2005. The generator is a 175 w 480 volt. 3 phase which provides the power for the DMU and up to two coaches. It is a Deutz water-cooled diesel and is easy to maintain. The DMU's transmission is a Voith T212 BRE Turbo hydrodynamic transmission. It has Hydrodynamic braking and an electronic control management system. It can travel 760,000 miles before its first major overhaul. The GSI Trucks are low clearance inside swing hanger with primary and secondary springs. It has inside disk brakes with a Voith KE553 final-drive used in each truck. The DMU was the first to pass the FRA's 49 CFR Part 238 Test meaning it could withstand a full frontal hit by a freight locomotive. The DMU is built to withstand the FRA 800,000 lb structural buff load. It is really a very well built rail vehicle. Colorado Rail Car can build the DMU any way the customer wants.

We were shown to our Transit Seats and once seated you notice what a great view the DMU provides. Passing freight trains are seen to the roof of the cars and once we got on the move you could really appreciate the view. We met many OCTA people as well as city leaders and the Colorado Rail Car Representatives on the trip. A wheelchair needed to board so the old style Amtrak lift was used. Once he was boarded we departed east to Fullerton Jct where a BNSF freight train was waiting for us to clear. We left the junction on a yellow so we made our way south onto the Metrolink San Diego Subdivision. We slowly made our way with the DMU providing all of the power with us passing a BNSF local on an industrial lead waiting to get on the mainline. We ducked under the Riverside Freeway making our way to CP La Palma where we crossed over to the number 2 track with Amtrak 573 waiting for us to clear. Here now with a green signal the DMU finally got to track speed and rode really well. At the grade crossings our DMU train was really getting strange looks from people in cars. The test I was waiting for was how it would ride over the UP crossing at CP College where Surfliner trains really bounce going across it. This train glided across it and if I would not have know that crossing was there, I would have never even noticed it. We blew by the Anaheim Station under the 57 Freeway and across the Santa Ana River. We made the big curve at CP Maple before zipping through the Orange Metrolink Station. Reaching the end of double track at CP La Veta, we ducked under the 22 Freeway then across Santiago Creek before racing down Lincoln Street through my neighborhood in northeast Santa Ana. At CP Lincoln we reached the double track again after passing through Metrolink's and Amtrak's biggest bottleneck in Southern California.

We ran on the number one track through the Santa Ana Depot before we turned by the former location of the old Santa Ana Santa Fe Station now a lumber yard before rounding the curve to head straight southeast toward Irvine. We went under the 55 freeway and at Red Hill Avenue passed the location of the old Barn Restaurant. The old helicopter Base unused housing came into view followed by the two old Blimp Hangars which are the world's largest wooden structures ever built. We went through CP Alviso before racing through the Tustin Metrolink Station. We ran through the residential section of Irvine at track speed before passing through the golf course after Jeffrey Road. Right after Sand Canyon Road we passed the unique La Quinta Inn before we went beneath Interstate 5 and the Toll Road. We run along the south edge of the former but unused El Toro Marine Base before the DMU arrived at Irvine.

Here we dropped off five passengers before we pulled south into Bake Siding, a new track for me to be on stopping at MP 185.5.

Here we sat to change ends as our engineer went from the DMU to the Metrolink 800 which would power of train back to Fullerton. We also waited for the passage of Amtrak's Surfliners 774 and 775. We would then follow 775 back to Fullerton but caught up to near him and ran on his yellow signals as far as Santa Ana. I shot pictures of all the stations and CP Locations on our trip back. In between pictures I had conversations with the other passengers aboard the train on our trip back. I showed people the location of Metrolink's double tracking through northeast Santa Ana and what would be done to make it happen. It had been an enjoyable trip back to Fullerton but it came to an end all too quick as we arrived back in Fullerton.

Once I detrained, I did some more photographing before returning to the Trainweb Offices. Since 578 was due in about ten minutes I went to the south platform to wait for my train. It came in on the north track so I got all the passengers over the pedestrian bridge and onto the train. I had a quick trip back to Santa Ana ending a very interesting day of train riding.