How do they do that? is a new series for The Source that explores the technology that helps keep Metro running and passengers and other commuters moving. Some of it applies directly to the trains, buses and freeways and some of it runs in the background — invisible to nearly everyone but essential to mobility in our region.
How does Metro transport rail cars from manufacturing sites around the world to L.A.?
Metro operates five rail lines that include three light-rail lines and two heavy rail (subway) lines. Train cars running on the lines are thus far manufactured by three companies: AnsaldoBreda (made in Italy), Nippon Sharyo (made in Japan) and Siemens (made in California).
Obviously, cars made in Italy and Japan can’t just be rolled here on rail. But the same is true of cars manufactured in California. Unless the cars are made adjacent to the Metro rail lines on which they will run (none are), they must be transferred via some means.
Breda light-rail carbody shells are manufactured in Pistoia, Italy, with final assembly in Pittsburg, Calif. in the Bay area. But before production could begin for the 2550 Breda rail cars for the Gold Line, a prototype was built in Italy and transported from Pisa to L.A. on a Russian-built cargo plane (see 2005 photo above). At LAX, a crew transferred the car onto a flatbed truck for delivery to the Metro Gold Line maintenance facility just north of downtown L.A. Remaining Breda cars were transported by a U.S. cargo ship from Italy to Houston, trucked to Pittsburg for assembly and then transferred by truck back to L.A.
Nippon Sharyo light-rail cars for the Metro Blue Line were manufactured and assembled in Japan and shipped — in halves — to L.A., where they were mated and reassembled.
Siemens light-rail carbody shells were manufactured in Carson, shipped to Sacramento for final assembly and then trucked back to L.A.
Metro’s next rail car delivery will be of two Breda cars made in Italy. They are scheduled for delivery in early 2012. In spring, 2014, Metro expects two prototypes for an order of 78 light-rail vehicles. (The manufacturer has not yet been selected.) Watch to see where they come from, how they arrive and what lines they run on. The Expo Line, no doubt, will see more than a few.