Houston places US$83 million order with Siemens for 19 LRT vehicles

Posted: 6 April 2011 | Siemens | No comments yet

METRO, wants to expand its fleet of light rail transit vehicles and has placed a US$83 million order with Siemens for the supply of 19 S70 type LRTs…

Siemens LRT vehicle

METRO, the metropolitan transit operator in Houston, Texas, wants to expand its fleet of light rail transit vehicles and has placed a US$83 million order with Siemens for the supply of 19 S70 type LRTs. The order will raise the total number of Siemens-built cars in “H-town” to 37. The low-floor design of these vehicles affords easy and unobstructed entry, while the top running speed of 106 km/h (65 mph) provides a strong argument for leaving the car at home and riding the METRO. Specially designed for the U.S. market, the S70 light rail cars will be built entirely at the Siemens plant in Sacramento, California. Delivery of the first car is expected as early as October 2012.

The first light rail transit vehicle entered revenue service in Houston back in January 2004, just in time on February 1 to take fans to the Super Bowl, the final championship game of the National Football League in America. Under terms of a turnkey contract, Siemens at that time supplied 18 double-articulated S70 vehicles, the control technology and electrification equipment and was also responsible for the entire project management. At present, the Houston light rail transit system has 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) of track and 16 stations. Ridership averages around 35,000 passengers daily and considerably relieves the traffic situation during rush-hour periods. Just how well the LRT service has been accepted by the public was demonstrated in December 2010 when the operator recorded its 75 millionth boarding – four years earlier than originally expected.

So, when it came to expanding their light rail fleet, the Houstonians once again looked to Siemens for a quality product. The S70 is a light rail vehicle specially designed for the American market and can be deployed in urban transit operations as well as in regional rail services that link outlying communities with the city center. Passengers appreciate the easy, unobstructed boarding afforded by the car’s low-floor design. In addition, the maximum operating speed of 106 km/h (65 mph) makes the light rail an attractive alternative to the car.

With its Mobility Division, Siemens is a world leading provider of mobility infrastructure solutions and is already successfully established on the U.S. market today. Siemens can draw from decades of experience in the construction of rail systems and rolling stock in the States. Since 1984, over 1,000 light rail cars have rolled out of its plant in Sacramento, California and are now operating in 17 cities in North America. Every third light rail vehicle in the USA comes from the market leader, Siemens.

The workforce at the Sacramento plant is currently being increased from around 700 to just about 1,000 employees. For the first time, the production facilities there are being expanded to build not only light rail vehicles but also locomotives in order to fulfill the major contract that Amtrak, the U.S. intercity passenger service operator, recently awarded to Siemens. The company has purchased another 8 hectares (20 acres) near its plant to be in the position to adjust production capacities to future growth as required. Most of the power needed by the plant will come from a new 2-megawatt solar energy system. This sustainable production method will help to lower the carbon balance for rail vehicles even further. The visionary goal is zero emissions.

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