2013 Top Rail Project Profiles

Posted on May 20, 2013 by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

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As part of this year's Top Rail Projects feature, METRO focused on three projects in the works in Houston, Detroit and Tucson, Ariz.

Houston Metro Adding 19 Light Railcars
With its rail system surpassing 100 million boardings four years ahead of its projects, Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) purchased 19 second-generation S-70 Siemens light railcars to deal with the growth.

“Nine new Siemens H2 S-70 vehicles have been delivered to Metro and three have achieved Conditional Acceptance and are now in revenue service on the Main St./Red Line,” explains Margaret O’Brien, spokesperson for Metro. “The other six Siemens vehicles on site are in the testing and commissioning phase. Once they achieve Substantial Completion, complete the Burn-In Test and achieve Conditional Acceptance, the vehicles will be placed in revenue service.”

The purchase of the S70s represented a savings of almost a year’s time in getting optimal service to riders. Metro was able to achieve this by exercising a vehicle option with the Utah Transit Authority when it “piggybacked” through an inter-agency agreement to procure the light railcars from Siemens.

The S70 LRV is electrically powered from an overhead wire (catenary) system and carries about 200 passengers per car. The units can be coupled — up to four together — for more efficient service during peak times.

Each new S70 unit is equipped with eight wide-opening, sliding doors all located in the low-floor area, four on each side of the vehicle. The door spacing is optimal for passenger flow — the time necessary to enter and exit the vehicle, which can cause delays in the schedule. The design of the interior maximizes passenger space, using a knee-to-back seating arrangement and a large standing area with extra hand straps and grab bars for passenger safety.

In addition to the amplified passenger space and wide doorways, the updated S70 is also equipped with two designated wheelchair spaces, allowing priority seating for disabled passengers as well as a hydraulic system that permits height control and level boarding.

Metro is also responding to requests from cyclists by outfitting each new H2 S70 with two bicycle racks, located at front and rear doorways, which may make travel safer during hours when bikes are permitted on board.

The delivery of the 19 Siemens S70 Vehicles will be completed in August 2013 and used on Metro’s North Line, with testing and commissioning activities already underway, according to O’Brien.

In addition to the new Siemens vehicles, Metro’s remaining Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) vehicles are scheduled to arrive in Houston beginning in October 2013. The CAF railcars will also undergo thorough testing prior to Metro accepting them for use in revenue service.

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