By MATT BROWN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)