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SMART cars in final design stages

An artist's rendering of the interior of a SMART rail car.

By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The SMART commuter rail cars that will run between Sonoma and Marin counties have passed federal crash tests, are in the final design stages and are on track to be delivered in October 2013.

“This is the state of the art for commuter rail, which shares the track with freight railroads,” said Kevin Koyasu, president and chief executive officer of Nippon Sharyo USA, based in Arlington Heights, Ill.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District developed specifications for the new rail car to meet Federal Railroad Administration regulations for crash worthiness and new emission standards that take effect in 2014.

The cars, called Diesel Multiple Units, are slope-nosed, self-propelled and powered by diesel engines. They run in pairs, with the ability to have a third non-powered car added in between to increase capacity.

“Overall, the basic systems is not new to us; it is fine tuning our past experience,” Koyasu said.

SMART is paying $49 million for 12 cars.

Metrolinx in Toronto has ordered 18 of the cars at a cost of $75 million to run between downtown Toronto and the city’s airport. It paid SMART $758,825 in development costs last March.

Koyasu said the new cars are expected to become a standard in the United States.

“Unlike the commuter trains hauled by big locomotives, these are very flexible in operation, especially for startup transportation,” Koyasu said.

Nippon Sharyo is building a $50 million assembly plant to open this summer in Rochelle, Ill., where it will employ 300 people. The state of Illinois has spent $12 million on infrastructure, such as rail spurs and roads, to serve the plant.

The factory will have the capacity to build 120 rail cars annually.

The company also has a $560­ million contract to build 160 electrically powered passenger rail cars for Metra, the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad, which is based in Chicago.

A stainless-steel prototype of the SMART car was built at the company’s plant in Japan, where it passed compression tests for crash worthiness, Koyasu said.

The car shells will be built in Japan and then shipped to the Illinois plant for assembly, largely with American-made components, including a Cummings diesel engine, brakes, seats and windows.

Koyasu said the cars will surpass federal Buy America regulations that require the cars be assembled in the United States and have at least 60 percent American-made components.

Meanwhile, SMART is moving to buy land and build a maintenance facility so it has someplace to test and store the cars when they arrive next year.

“We have to be ready and have a facility built so it is up and running when we receive the trains,” said SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian.

The rail agency is negotiating with a property owner for a 10-acre site, one of three places in Sonoma County under consideration.

He declined to identify the location because of the negotiations. SMART hopes to buy the property and start construction by this fall.

SMART has $20 million in its budget for the maintenance facility, which will have a shop for vehicle repair and maintenance, outdoor storage and a train control facility.

SMART plans to have service running on 38.5 miles of line between Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa and downtown San Rafael in fall 2014 or early 2015.





7 Responses to “SMART cars in final design stages”

  1. Just a Thought says:

    We can just about smell the smoke from old smokie SMART comin’ round the corner and into the station. The expensive dream of every boy and every politician in Sonoma County is to have a little train of their very own.

    It’s so great that this great welfare program is being paid for by government that gets its money from that big money tree known as the taxpayer. The only thing green about it are the greenbacks that are being spent to build this toy.

    The roads are being sacrificed and money diverted to this train to nowhere, but by god, they got their train.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  2. Western Cluebird says:

    @ John Reed aka Eric Newman,

    “SMART has now put enough facts on the ground that there is no way but forward from here.”

    Smart has done much more than that- they have fully buried the facts under six feet of cow dung!

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

  3. John Lennon says:

    Looks like all those “local” jobs went to Oakland.

    Shame on you Smart. And shame on the ignorant people that did nothing about it

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 7

  4. Jim Bennett says:

    Even if a passenger never sits in one of those seats, the train could be successful.
    In terms of what these agents of change set out to do.
    There’s been Smart Growth planning/zoning put into place.
    Complete with the extortion framework that MTC has in place.
    The ‘visioning’ meetings didn’t go that well, I was gonna write ‘you can’t have it all’, but I guess we’ll have to see if the people wake up.
    In addition, they finally deceived enough to get some voters to go for it, not that I currently trust our ballot count these days.

    Also they got some funding started.
    A big hole to misappropriate from, and continue to crash, crash, crash.

    Get used to seeing numbers with lots of zeros.

    So how do you crash without ever hitting anything?

    ‘SMART’ TRAIN.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 8

  5. Joseph says:

    With the price of gas hitting five dollars a gallon this train cannot come too soon.
    The most economical mode of transportation is the diesel electric train, second onlt to the bicycle, this project covers both.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 16

  6. John Reed says:

    SMART has now put enough facts on the ground that there is no way but forward from here. This train is rolling!

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 22

  7. Graeme Wellington says:

    How Americans want to fix traffic jams:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUULDlMPFYU

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

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