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Comet (railcar)

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Title: Comet (railcar)  
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Subject: SEPTA Regional Rail, Pullman Company, Shoreliner, ABB ALP-44, Metro-North Railroad
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Comet (railcar)

A New Jersey Transit consist with a Comet III cab, followed by several Comet V's and Comet IIM's, with a Comet IV closest to the engine.
Manufacturer Alstom
Pullman Standard
Constructed 1970 - 2005
Entered service 1970
Capacity 102-130
Maximum speed 120 mph (190 km/h)

The Comet railcar is a class of locomotive-hauled railcars that was first designed in the late 1960s by Pullman-Standard as a modern commuter car for North American rail lines. Later, the Comet moniker was adopted by New Jersey Transit for all of its non-powered single level commuter coaches. Additional series of cars bearing the Comet name, based on the original design have since been built by Bombardier Transportation and Alstom. The successful design was adopted by numerous commuter agencies.


  • History 1
    • Comet I 1.1
    • Comet II 1.2
    • Comet III 1.3
    • Comet IV 1.4
    • Comet V 1.5
  • "Comaro" coaches 2
    • Comet IA 2.1
    • Comet IB 2.2
      • Amtrak California Refurbishment 2.2.1
  • See also 3
  • References 4


Comet I

Comet I #5118 (ex-1518) in Ridgewood, NJ

These cars were the first of the Comet series, built by Pullman Standard in 1970-73 for the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad's diesel-hauled commuter services. These were considered state of the art at the time, due to their all-aluminum body shell construction as well as their use of head-end power (HEP). Their automated entrance doors, designed for use with low platforms only, earned them the nickname "Sliders".

In 1987, the fleet was rebuilt by Bombardier at Barre, Vermont, with the cab cars and a number of trailer cars receiving high doors, for ADA access and future compatibility with high platforms. They were given NJ Transit logos adjacent to the entrance doors at this time, as NJ Transit had taken over EL commuter service.

The cars that retained low doors were retired from service in 2005. Many of the cars were sold to Utah Transit Authority (UTA) for the FrontRunner service and leased to Metrolink in 2008 to help with an acute car shortage there. In 2010, Metrolink returned the comets to NJT upon Metrolink's receiving delivery of its new "Guardian Fleet" bi-level cars. The Comet I cars have become popular with western commuter lines as the low door setup is compatible with the low-platform stations in use. Eight Comet Is were sold and are now operating with SEPTA.

New Jersey Transit retired the last of its Comet Is in early 2009. The Comets that were not sold to SEPTA or UTA were scrapped by 2010.

Comet II

In 1982-83, New Jersey Transit purchased these cars from Bombardier, which had acquired the rights to the design from Pullman upon their folding, along with a second order (Comet IIB) in 1988. These cars feature high doors with traps for use at both low-platform and high-platform stations. The cars are similar to the MBTA's BTC-1 and CTC-1 cars, built in 1978 by Pullman Standard.[1] These cars were intended for use on lines formerly operated by the Central Railroad of New Jersey, operators of the famed Blue Comet train to Atlantic City. This led to the New Jersey Transit series of single-level cars being known as Comets. These cars have since been overhauled by Alstom to make them aesthetically and technologically similar to the Comet IV series and are now compatible with later equipment.

Shoreliner I and II coaches, purchased by Metro-North and the Connecticut Department of Transportation for use on non-electrified territories east of the Hudson River, are based on this class. Metro-North also purchased Comet II coaches for use on the Port Jervis Line. These have since been transferred to the East-of-Hudson pool.

SEPTA Regional Rail, and Agence métropolitaine de transport also purchased cars based on this class.

Comet III

The Comet III cars, ordered by New Jersey Transit in 1990, feature center doors and long end-doors, permitting end doors to open and close with traps open. The Metro-North Shoreliner III fleet is a variation without long doors.

Comet V in Suffern.

Comet IV

The Comet IV cars, ordered in 1996, are similar to the Comet III cars, except with no door by the engineer's cab. Metro-North's Shoreliner IV fleet are based on the same design.

Comet V

These cars were ordered in 1999 by New Jersey Transit and Metro-North Railroad and delivered beginning in 2002. Unlike previous series which were built by Bombardier, the Comet Vs were built by Alstom. The major external differences are a stainless-steel exterior and larger windows.

"Comaro" coaches

NJT Comet IB Cab Car #5166 operating on the Atlantic City Line.

Additionally, the "Comet" name has been applied to two distinct orders of coaches used on NJ Transit lines. As both orders had connections to the Arrow series of electric multiple unit (EMU) cars, they have become known as "Comaros", a portmanteau of "Comet" and "Arrow", and a play on the Chevrolet Camaro.

Comet IA

Ten Comet IA cars (two cabs and eight trailers) were built in 1978 by General Electric for the MTA from surplus shells from Avco and Canadian Vickers remaining from the "Arrow III" EMU for NJDOT. They saw use primarily on the Port Jervis Line. These cars were retired in 2004 and scrapped by 2006.

Comet IB

The Comet IB cars were rebuilt from 30 former Penn Central Arrow I EMU cars originally built by the St. Louis Car Company between 1968 and 1969. The Arrow I cars suffered from chronic mechanical problems and were quickly retired in 1976 by an order of Arrow II cars. The cars sat unused for over a decade, but realizing that the car bodies still had many decades of service left on them New Jersey Transit made the decision to have them rebuilt into un-powered coaches. Between 1986 and 1988 the cars were shipped to Morrison-Knudsen and converted into cab control and trailer coaches for use on non-electrified lines. After two decades of service the Comet IB cars were retired by New Jersey Transit in 2008.

Amtrak California Refurbishment

In 2008 the California Department of Transportation Division of Rail purchased 14 of the retired Comet IB coaches from New Jersey Transit for $75,000 per car. They will be used to relieve overcrowding on Amtrak California's popular San Joaquin route. The Comet IB coaches have been refurbished to make them more suitable for inter-city rail service including adding reclining seats with tray tables (with only four seats in a row), more luggage racks, a restroom, WiFi and 6 workstation tables in the center of the car.[2] 12 of the cars California purchased from New Jersey Transit are cab cars, they will all be reconfigured into trailer cars by removing the train controls and plating over the cab windows.[3] Instead they will be used with Non-Powered Control Units that have cab controls and space to store checked baggage.[2]

See also

  • Horizon (railcar); railcars operated by Amtrak similar in design to that of the Comets.
  • Shoreliner; Metro-North's locomotive-hauled rail are used for their East-of-Hudson services.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority/Caltrans. "San Joaquin Rolling Stock Presentation" (PDF). pp. 35–42. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Caltrans Comet IB SJVRC Presentation" (PDF). Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
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