By SEAN SCULLY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The seats for the new Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit commuter rail cars have passed required safety tests, a month after failing the first round of testing.
The manufacturer, Kustom Seating Unlimited of Bellwood, Ill., made modifications after the first tests and the units passed, SMART officials said.
In the original test, the frame of the seats failed under the force of a simulated high-speed collision, so the company made improvements to better absorb crash energy, spokeswoman Carolyn Glendening said.
Officials from SMART and the company said at the time that it is not unusual for seats and other components to fail the rigorous federal safety requirements in early rounds of testing.
SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian told the agency’s board Wednesday that the seats will go into regular production and be finished by summer, in time to meet the planned delivery of the rail cars in February of next year.
The custom-designed diesel-powered cars will be assembled by Nippon Sharyo USA at a plant in New Rochelle, Ill.
SMART is working to launch regular commuter rail service between Santa Rosa and San Rafael as early as 2015. The $360 million project is funded largely under a 2008 ballot measure that imposed a one-quarter percent sales tax approved by voters in the two counties, though it also has attracted a number of federal grants.
Work is largely finished on about 15 miles of track in Sonoma County. Track work will move to Marin County next year, though crews continue to build stations in Sonoma County and are just beginning the complex process of rebuilding dozens of private rail crossings along the planned route, either closing or upgrading them to improve safety in the face of passenger traffic, which moves much faster than the freight trains that have used the lines.
You can reach Staff Writer Sean Scully at 521-5313 or email@example.com.