Rail

Sonoma-Marin, Calif. system selects U.S.-style railcars

Posted on July 17, 2009

[IMAGE]SMART-train-full.jpg[/IMAGE]A new generation of environmentally friendly railcars will whisk train passengers through California's Marin and Sonoma counties beginning in late 2014.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit board of directors, directed staff on Wednesday to prepare specifications for rail vehicles that meet the most stringent EPA standards; are capable of speeds up to 79 mph; and will provide a first-class passenger experience for commuters, tourists and other travelers in the North Bay.

“This is the vehicle we promised the voters,” said Board Chairman Charles McGlashan. “It gets our service up and running on time, on budget and with room to expand for the future. In the long run, that means our greenhouse gas savings will be even greater.”

Development of vehicle specifications, which will include public input, is expected to be complete by end of March 2010. Bids from the railcar-building industry will be due around Oct. 1, 2010. The first vehicles should arrive in the North Bay for testing on the SMART corridor in the fall of 2013, with the complete fleet due to be ready for service in the fall of 2014.

In making their decision, SMART Board members stressed the importance of vehicles that provide all of the environmental benefits identified in the project’s environmental impact reports, and that also allow for maximum flexibility in operations. That combination is only offered by vehicles that meet Federal Railroad Administration standards for passenger trains that share a rail corridor with freight rail service, as SMART does with the North Coast Railroad Authority.

This type of vehicle has been SMART’s preferred railcar since the agency’s first vehicle selection studies were conducted in 2002. SMART directors then and now favored the compliant vehicle because it needs no special waivers from the federal government to operate in conjunction with freight service. It also avoids the need for “temporal separation” between passenger and freight trains, a requirement that – if imposed – could mean either fewer passenger trains available during the day or forcing freight trains to run only at night.

SMART intends to run DMUs, or diesel multiple units, on the 70-mile corridor between Cloverdale and Larkspur, Calif. Unlike traditional trains with huge locomotives pulling long lines of passenger cars, DMUs are self-propelled units with the engines usually placed underneath the passenger compartments. This allows for relatively compact trains, generally two cars operating together in a “married pair” that seats about 150 passengers and is about 150-170 feet long.

SMART’s specifications likely will require manufacturers to provide a third car that can be added to the “married pair,” increasing the seating capacity to 225 and expanding the area available for bicycles, disabled accommodations and other on-board amenities.

Four manufacturers have indicated to SMART that they are interested in building vehicles for this project. They include Brookville Equipment Corp. of Brookville, Pa.; Nippon-Sharyo Ltd. of Japan; Siemens Corp. of Germany; and U.S. Railcar LLC of Columbus, Ohio. All four have indicated they would build the district’s fleet of about a dozen vehicles in the U.S., meeting the FTA’s “Buy America” requirements.

SMART’s rail vehicles likely will be the first FRA-compliant DMUs in the world to use engines that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Tier 4” emissions requirements, which go into effect beginning in 2011. Tier 4 technology, combined with new “clean-diesel” fuel, greatly reduces the amount of pollutants emitted from diesel engines, virtually eliminating the smoke and odor traditionally associated with old-style diesel.

By getting travelers out of their cars and onto trains, SMART will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Marin and Sonoma counties by more than 30 million pounds a year, according to the project’s EIR.

Marin and Sonoma county voters in November approved Measure Q, the quarter-cent sales tax to fund the SMART project, by a nearly 70-percent majority. SMART will use the publically owned former Northwestern Pacific Railroad corridor to operate passenger trains and develop a bicycle-pedestrian pathway connecting 14 stations from Cloverdale, in northern Sonoma County, to Larkspur, where the Golden Gate Ferry connects Marin County with San Francisco.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Alstom awarded contract for 25 more 'Jazz' trains

The new orders, which are exercised as two options under a contract signed in 2012, bring Trenitalia’s mostly Italian Jazz fleet to 95 trainsets.

Japanese maglev train breaks own speed record

The train reached 375 miles per hour in a test run on Tuesday, surpassing its previous record of 361 miles per hour set in 2003. The train traveled for just over a mile at a speed exceeding 373 miles per hour.

VRE making first service expansion in 23 years

The $3.4 million North Virginia station is the first of several major projects the agency is pursuing as part of its goal to double ridership by 2040. Next month, it will launch a mobile app to give riders the option of purchasing and showing tickets via smartphones, and it will add a train to the Fredericksburg Line this summer.

N.Y. subway ridership reaches 65-year high

The increased number of customers creates challenges for the MTA to operate the subway system while minimizing delays, crowding and inconvenience. The subway system has traditionally performed maintenance work during off-peak hours, which are now experiencing record ridership.

Mass. Gov. to unveil sweeping MBTA reforms

Gov. Charlie Baker recently secured the resignations of the six Patrick administration appointees on the state transportation board and had a "clarifying" conversation with the MBTA’s interim boss Frank DePaola after he went public with concerns about the governor’s plan.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The resource for managers of class 1-7 truck Fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close