Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Valley's First Light-Rail Car On Its Way ~ Phoenix, AZ

By: Sean Holstege ~ The Arizona Republic
October 20th, 2006

The Valley's first light-rail train car, No. 101, is steaming for the Panama Canal, bound for New Jersey, having completed a battery of successful tests in Osaka, Japan.

"This is a wonderful machine," said Metro's operations chief, Joe Marie, who checked out the first train on a tour last month of the Kinkisharyo International factory. He described the inspection as one of the best he's participated in during a lengthy transit career.

"We are satisfied as a team we got a good product," he said.

Train car 101 departed the port of Kobe, Japan on Sept. 30. It's expected to arrive in Baltimore on Nov. 2, and from there be trucked to Newark for further tests beginning mid-November.

Key among them is checking whether the train accelerates and brakes smoothly. Then it will be sent to Arizona for final assembly and testing in Phoenix streets.

The other train that's been completed, car 102, has passed a two-month test inside a climate chamber, where temperatures were pushed to 127 degrees Fahrenheit. That train is expected to arrive in Phoenix in late January or early February, Marie said.

Metro is buying 50 rail cars for $159 million.

On Wednesday, Metro's governing board authorized Marie to enter into a five-year, $27 million contract with Pittsburgh-based Kinkisharyo to maintain the trains. The firm beat out three competitors on the basis of qualifications, Marie said, and its price was about $800,000 under the official estimate.

The first light rail train is scheduled to begin service in December 2008.

Find a home near the new light rail.

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