More on METRO’s new trains

metrocentro2
(TUSSAM)

The METRO blog offers more details on the new light rail cars:

“This is a 100 %, low-floor model. And this is the first time it will be in the United States,” said Jitendra S. Tomar, vice president of marketing and business development at CAF USA Inc. “Other cars, you have 70 percent low floor. This one is all one level. You have better mobility from one end to the other.”

A few noteworthy points:

  • The seats can flip up. That means the train can handle more people in crowded conditions. It also means more room for bikes, strollers, or wheelchairs. Bikes racks are “being looked into.”
  • The blog notes: “Several of you asked if METRO’s Siemens train can be hooked up to a CAF USA train. Yes, but only to use one to tow the other. However, the two cannot be hooked up together to run service.” It also notes: “METRO plans to keep its 18 Siemens trains and may eventually use them on a commuter rail line.” It would not be difficult to mix the current trains and the new ones on the same line even if they aren’t compatible. You run a 2-car CAF train, followed by a two-car Siemens train, followed by a 2-car CAF train. The “commuter rail line” is likely a reference to METRO’s proposal to extend light rail from Fannin South along South Main to BW8. The 66mph capability of the Siemens cars would be important there, and the trains could still run through onto the Main Street Line into Downtown. The Seville cars that the new cars are based on can do only 44 mph, which is fine for urban service but not for a long run out to Missouri City.
  • The length of the cars: 102 feet compared to 96 feet on the Siemens cars. A Downtown block is 240 feet sidewalk to sidewalk, so a 205 foot train will fit on the existing (and new) stations with room to spare. Longer cars means room for more people, and that’s going to matter a lot on Main Street. METRO planners tell me they expect standing-room-only during rush hours even running 2-car trains every 4 minutes (compared to a mix of 1- and 2- car trains every 6 minutes today.)
  • The cars will be assembled at CAF’s plant Elmira, NY, whihc has been building railcars (first under ABB ownership) since 1986. (The Siemens cars came from Siemens’ plant in Sacramento, CA.)
  • The comments range from the useful to the misinformed (construction costs have gone up at lot, not dropped, since 2003) to the weird: “In my dreams of the new rail lines, I dreamed having the same cars on all the lines. Now, my dream is runied…”

I dreamed of seeing discussion in the forums.

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