Denver's Regional Transportation District (RTD) received the first of 55 light rail vehicles for its new FasTracks fleet. The vehicle arrived via flatbed trailer from the Siemens Transportation Systems plant in Sacramento, Calif., where the vehicles are manufactured. The car was then unloaded onto the light rail tracks overnight while the system was out of service, and then powered into the yard of the Elati Light Rail Maintenance Facility.
The new light rail cars will accommodate the service that will be added through the future openings of the West Corridor, I-225 Corridor, Southeast and Southwest extensions. The rest of the new vehicles will arrive every few weeks over the next 18 months.
“The arrival of our first light rail vehicle for the new FasTracks fleet represents a considerable milestone,” said Phil Washington, RTD’s interim GM. “This is a visible example of our FasTracks tax dollars at work and the substantial progress being made on the FasTracks program.”
RTD ordered the new rail vehicles in 2007 as a cost-savings measure. They will have the same appearance and identity as RTD’s existing fleet, but are a newer model.
Crews from Siemens will inspect and test the new LRVs onsite, with the guidance of RTD staff. After that, each vehicle undergoes a 1,500-mile “burn in” period designed to ensure the safety and functionality of the LRVs.
During this process, the LRVs are operated out-of-service throughout the existing system to test its operations. The 55 new light rail vehicles will be gradually integrated into RTD’s existing service, which will lighten the operations of RTD’s overall fleet until the West Corridor opens in 2013.
Some of RTD’s original LRVs, put into service in 1994 with the opening of RTD’s first light rail line; have recently reached the one-million mile mark. The overall life expectancy of LRVs is approximately 30 years or two-million miles.
FasTracks is RTD’s voter-approved transit program to expand rail and bus service throughout the RTD service area. The program will build 122 miles of commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit service, 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 jobs during the height of construction, and will pump billions of dollars into the regional economy.