Now that it appears no C cars are seen in service on a daily basis, I think it’s fitting to take a look at one of those final C cars I rode earlier in the month, and saw on the way to the scrapper this morning – car 432. The C cars were the closest match to the sounds of early BART into the 2020s.
The 432 was just one of 150 Alsthom-built C cars ordered to supplement the existing Rohr-built A/B cars. The C cars were designed to be used as mid cars (like a B car) or as lead or trail cars (like an A car), providing greater operational flexibility. Additionally, the C cars included some technical changes designed to increase reliability compared to the troubles experienced with the A/B cars in the 1970s.
Numbered well into the production run (#301-450), this C car entered service in 1989. With the introduction of the C2s in the late 1990s, the original 150 C cars were also known as C1 cars.
By 2023, the 432 had been in service for 34 years and rolled over 3 million miles. Something unique about this car in particular was a bit of a dent or two near the tail light on the Y end, alongside the various scrapes of the white cab paint, revealing the aluminum carbody below.
The C1 cars were a bit of a reminder of BART’s past. Never rehabilitated (like the A2/B2 cars), the C cars retained the original faux-wood arm rests and DC propulsion like the original A/B cars. It was hard to mistake a C car in a consist, buzzing and humming the same notes, while the variable pitch A2/B2 cars would whine chromatically.
BART’s car retirement plans outlined the C2s to be scrapped first, followed by the C1 cars, and finally the A2 and B2 cars (to note, some A2/B2 have been scrapped between C2s and C1s, for various reasons and considerations). Like over 100 other C1 cars, the 432 exited revenue service, was stripped of useful parts, and trucked away to the scrapper. I last rode it on May 5th (and even rode it on May 4th – and turned in a lost phone, to beat), and today (May 22nd), saw it while driving down 880 on the way to the scrapper. With that unique dent, it wasn’t hard to identify even with the number plates removed.
The car has almost certainly been chopped to pieces now. With modern metal recycling technology, it will be recycled and the various metals may find new useful roles. Perhaps one day, you might find what was once 432 in another role – maybe as an aluminum drink can, or some of its steel might be part of a beam in a new building.
The 432 will also live on in N scale, being one of the cars I constructed a few weeks ago. My N scale BART fleet has carefully chosen cars to represent various eras of BART history, and the 432 represents one of the last C1 cars in service.
"The Two Bagger" is meant to be a place to store more "blog" style posts on various cars, pictures, and random tidbits. At BART, a "two bagger" is a rather informal name for a two car train. Two car trains rolled in revenue service back in 1972.