May 23, 2011

Denver RTD unveils new commuter rail mock-up

The Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) is hosting a public display of a mock-up showing the front section of the new FasTracks commuter rail vehicle starting on Tuesday. The display is free to the public.

This passenger train, much different than RTD’s current light rail vehicle, will be used on the East Rail Line to Denver International Airport (DIA), the Gold Line to Arvada-Wheat Ridge and a segment of the Northwest Rail Line to Westminster. These new 36 miles of FasTracks lines are under contract and early construction activity is underway.

Denver Transit Partners (DTP) is the long-term builder and operator of these lines under a 34-year concession contract with RTD. DTP has prepared the mock-up to obtain public feedback on certain design elements of the car, which is manufactured by Hyundai Rotem USA. A minimum of 60 percent of the $4 million vehicles will be made in the U.S.

During the first week, DTP will hold two special interest group meetings and three general public meetings. Special interest groups include those representing the disabled, particularly wheelchair users, the visually impaired, arthritis support organizations and the hearing-impaired. DTP has contacted these stakeholder groups to invite them to attend and provide feedback on hand rails, luggage racks and more.

The commuter railcar has a seating capacity of 90, compared with 64 on light rail, and has a top operating speed of 79 mph, compared with 55 mph for light rail. Commuter rail is typically used on longer rail lines with fewer stops than light rail corridors. It is a crash-safety compliant vehicle of the type now required by the railroad industry for use in freight rail corridors.

FasTracks is RTD’s voter-approved transit program to expand rail and bus service throughout the RTD service area. FasTracks will build 122 miles of commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit service and add 21,000 new parking spaces; redevelop Denver Union Station and redirect bus service to better connect the eight-county district. The FasTracks investment initiative is projected to create more than 10,000 construction-related jobs during the height of construction and will pump billions of dollars into the regional economy.

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