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SMART’s 1st batch of rail cars passes factory tests

The first Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit trains roll off the assembly line at the Nippon Sharyo factory in Toyokawa, Japan, in this undated handout photo from SMART. The trains passed their factory-based tests and are set to be delivered to the Sumitomo Corp. of America plant in Rochelle, Ill. where they will be mass produced.

The first Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit trains roll off the assembly line at the Nippon Sharyo factory in Toyokawa, Japan, in this undated handout photo from SMART. The trains passed their factory-based tests and are set to be delivered to the Sumitomo Corp. of America plant in Rochelle, Ill. where they will be mass produced.


The first train cars ordered up by the Sonoma-Marin Rail Transit agency have passed their factory tests in Japan and are ready to be shipped to the United States for on-track testing, SMART general manager Farhad Mansourian said Wednesday.

SMART released the first photos and video of the two grey and green Diesel Multiple Units rolling on tracks outside the Nippon Sharyo factory in Toyokawa, Japan.

The two individually powered cars, which will form one of SMART’s initial seven units, will be shipped by boat and rail within the next few weeks to the Sumitomo Corp. of America plant in Rochelle, Ill., where the rest of the units will be manufactured.

The state-side factory complies with the rail authority’s federal funding requirement to manufacture and assemble the cars in-country.

“I think this is an exciting day for us,” Mansourian said Wednesday at the agency’s regular board meeting.

The photos earned applause from rail agency’s board members.

“It’s a pretty train,” said Shirlee Zane, who represents the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on the SMART board.

“Wow, that’s cool,” said Vice Chair Barbara Pahre, of the Golden Gate Transportation District.

After initial testing in Illinois, the train cars will undergo Federal Railroad Administration testing at a facility in Pueblo, Colo. Delivery to SMART would occur next spring, prompting further testing along tracks for the commuter rail line .

The $56 million contract with Sumitomo Corp. gives SMART the option to buy up to 80 train units, well more than the agency needs, Mansourian said.

SMART has added revenue by selling 12 train car options to a rail authority in Canada. On Wednesday, the agency sold another option to the TriMet Transportation District of Portland, Ore., for $100,000.

“This will not delay the vehicles that we are getting,” Mansourian said. “We will preserve a good number of options for us. There is plenty of capacity left.”

SMART commuter service between Santa Rosa and San Rafael is scheduled to begin in late 2016. The agency is pursuing $40 million in federal and regional funding to extend the line to the Larkspur ferry terminal.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission last week backed the Larkspur extension project for a $20 million federal grant. The U.S. Department of Transportation awards about 50 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants each year out of a pool of more than 1,000 applicants.

The MTC could award another $20 million in bridge toll money for the Larkspur extension next month. SMART’s original plan to extend service north to Cloverdale lacks funding.

(You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or matt.brown@pressdemocrat.com.)

9 Responses to “SMART’s 1st batch of rail cars passes factory tests”

  1. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Steveguy-can’t cut other transit because how will those that need to take the train get there? Granted many will ride bikes or have someone drop them off. There is no parking anywhere downtown that isn’t short term pay. In order to attract commuters both SRT and SCT have to be beefed up because right now none of the transits even talk to each other to coordinate ANYTHING. The connections don’t work, even with just SRT, and it’s late a lot.

  2. homegirl says:

    Rail Cars built in Japan is a true scandal. All paid with American taxpayer funding and the best jobs go to Japan.

    No wonder the unemployment rate is so high in this country!

  3. Robert says:

    Since we do not have any bridges to get lost money back from, like the Ferry system, TOLL roads may be in the future.

  4. Follower says:

    It’s really Amazing when you think of how these thieves have perfected a strategy where they propose these grand social projects and sell them to the public by LYING about what they are, what they will be and how much they cost.

    They do this with all the confidence in the world that once they’ve broken ground they can count on all the useful idiots crying “WE CAN’T STOP NOW”!

    And all with a clear “conscience” and no regrets because “the ends justify the means” and if they told us the TRUTH about their agenda, they could never get it through.

    They justify this in their own minds as “imposing fairness for our own good”. Oh wait that’s right, they’re not “imposing” because we voted for it.
    …or at least we voted for what they “told us” it would be.

    SMART, Obamacare, Bay Bridge and on & on.

    It’s a game of “watch the birdie” while they pick our pockets and even worse… BURY US IN GOVERNMENT to make it easier and easier to pick our pockets next time.

    The pendulum has swung very far and when it swings back from this insanity, it’ll come swinging like a freight train.
    …and always swings back.

  5. bear says:


    We both might be right?

    Europe does great things with trains, but it will take a change in economics and mindset before the same happens here.

    “We shall see.” Too right.

  6. Elephant says:

    Steveguy – If you recall, the first two times DUMB tried to get passed by the voters, the sales tax grab was 1/2% They already knew that’s what it would take to come close (not completely cover) operating expenses. So they went with a 1/4% proposal with the numbers cooked and that’s the lie that they got passed.

    Pretty soon, they’re going to say “we need another 1/4% to keep operating what we’ve already spent money on”. And so another ballot measure for another 1/4% will come on the ballot, my guess is next year.

    I am NOT against a commuter train for us. I just despise the corruption that is DUMB. It’s never too late to stop the bleeding with DUMB. It will have to stop sometime and the sooner the better.

  7. Steveguy says:

    Bear, can’t kill the project now, we will have to wait and see.

    I predict service cuts to bus and other transit in order to pick up the $15-20 Million that SMART will bleed annually from otherwise ” Smarter ” transit.

    We shall see,

  8. bear says:

    So kill the project and waste all the money spent on it. In 10 years or less, you’ll discover it was needed.

    I can only hope that your brain is still in the 19th Century, because in those days a whole LOT of rail lines took you everywhere from San Francisco to Rio Nido.

    When you can’t afford the gas for your car, maybe opinions will change?

  9. Steveguy says:

    Batch of cars ? Only 2 makes a whole batch of cars ?

    The new SMART math. Typical of the Press Democrat to advocate the headline, no matter a brand new Editor.

    Can the Editorial Board add numbers ? Ever ?

    Seems not, alas