Thursday, May 15, 2008

Space Race Update: UTA Vehicle Purchase

UTA, the transit agency on Utah's front range which includes Salt Lake City has started up the PR campaign and purchases for its Front Lines 2015 program. The plan is to build 70 miles in 7 years. So to keep on track with that, they are buying up 77 Siemens SD70 Avantos for $277 million or $3.6 M per vehicle. The same type used in Charlotte and Houston.

To make the order cheaper, buy in bulk. And that bulk includes an option for 120 more. My best guess is that either Houston or San Diego is going to be exercising those options with San Diego's cars reaching the end of their 25 year life and Houston embarking on the metro solutions plan. It might also be split up into smaller orders if cities that are running low based on this most recent ridership surge.
Siemens' news release about the contract lists an option for 180 more rail cars, though UTA General Manager John Inglish said the agency most likely won't use that many. It's common practice to secure more than needed at a good bulk price, he said, then offer the excess to another transit system that needs the cars.
Looks like the Siemens plant in Sacramento is going to be working overtime. Glad that these vehicles are all being built here. Imagine the economic impact if every city was building new LRVs and transit networks. Jobs Jobs Jobs.

Update: a Railway Gazette Article states that the Siemens vehicles will be a bit shorter than the Charlotte and San Diego Cars in order to accommodate 4 car trains.

10 comments:

arcady said...

This is truly amazing. There's now a semi-standard design that's used across many different systems: Houston, San Diego, Charlotte, and soon Utah and Portland as well. Props to Siemens for coming up with a good product that seems to be well suited to the American market. Hopefully we'll see a competing LRV model from another manufacturer soon, and maybe even some standardization for EMUs and DMUs.

Chris said...

70 miles in seven years... the Puget Sound is only considering 50 miles in twenty years.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Yup. Denver is 119 miles in less than a decade as well. Of course you have mountain and water issues up there, but cities around the country are starting to look at these massive expansions, I think Seattle needs to move fast.

arcady said...

Keep in mind that both Denver and Salt Lake City are planning on building commuter rail, and I strongly suspect that this is included in the mileage figures that you see. By that reckoning, the Puget Sound will have opened 92 miles of rail in the decade of 1999-2009. Of course, Denver's commuter rail is going to be electric, and Utah's just-opened line runs on 30 minute headways all day, but that just goes to show that "miles of rail" can be a pretty meaningless comparison.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I believe it does include commuter rail. Denver will only have two of its four lines be electric though due to costs. Although the cost to electrify the other two is looking much better today than it was last year when they made these changes.

If you include mileage already, Denver currently has 36 miles of rail I believe. That would bring the total to 155 miles. Salt Lake City has a light rail line and just opened it's north frontrunner line.

It's getting fun to watch the race between all these cities.

arcady said...

Yes, it's certainly exciting to see what the other cities are up to. Utah's commuter rail in particular has some interesting features, specifically the platforms that look to be 17 inches high, level with the floor of the Bombardier cars, as opposed to the 8 inch platforms mandated in California along with pedestal platforms and bridgeplates for wheelchairs. Maybe California can be convinced by Utah's experience that the low-platform regulation is stupid and needs to be repealed. And it can't hurt to have more states running EMUs either, maybe they can collectively make the FRA rethink the current SUV-like safety philosophy.

Jeremy said...

Why the Aventis? If anything, that's the one light-rail train that I dislike most aesthetically. It will look so out of place on TRAX. I can guess that UTA wanted to bring low-floor trains in (since all of their current trains are all high-floor), but I'd much prefer something that looks like it fits alongside the current boxy trains.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Well there are a few choices. Breda which has vehicles in LA, SF, and Boston. KinkySharyo which has vehicles in Dallas, Phoenix, and Seattle or Siemens Avanto. The bombardier flexity series is operating in Minneapolis. I don't think Skoda would build the larger LRVs and Alstom hasn't entered the US market. There are lots of choices but Siemens and Breda are the only ones with manufacturing in the US, and they are close to SLC in the Sacramento and the Bay Area. I'm not sure the boxy models are made anymore, everything is curvy these days.

arcady said...

I'm not sure that "aesthetic" choices are really what matters here, as it would probably require setting up a whole new production line just to make a differently shaped carbody. The Avanto is already in production, and they can use the same shape of box everywhere that they sell these things. As for manufacturers, there's also CAF, which made LRVs for Sacramento and Pittsburgh, as well as mainline EMUs for Mexico City.

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