New light-rail car makes its first public appearance


Here’s a peek at the first Metro P3010 prototype rail car operating under power on the Kinkisharyo test track in Osaka, Japan. Note that it’s decked out in chic new colors that are attractive as well as eminently visible. And those colors will be enhanced, in the final design, with reflective side graphics.

A solo rail car traveling down a track may not seem all that engaging but to those of us counting the minutes until the new Kinkisharyo rail cars arrive, this video is pretty exciting.

The cars are much needed for the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa. Expo 2 and Foothill are scheduled to open in early 2016; underscoring the need for new cars.

When a previous agreement with AnsaldoBreda — the Italian contractor originally hired to manufacture Metro Rail cars — failed, the car construction process was set back about two years. But Kikisharyo is working aggressively to deliver the cars quickly and to ensure they are of the highest quality.

As the test video indicates, car construction is carefully watched. Testing begins even before the cars are assembled, with progress monitored throughout design and construction. Currently, Metro staff is watching over something called “the floor fire test” (We can pretty much guess what that means) along with operation of the prototype vehicle.

All systems — a car is composed of numerous systems — must be tested and pass before the car can be delivered. But you can’t mess around with a rail car that must safely carry thousands throughout its hopefully long lifetime.

If all goes well in testing, this car and 23 others will arrive in L.A. by the end of 2015. After that, the cars will arrive at a rate of four per month until the contract for 78 new vehicles is complete. Metro has already exercised two of four options to buy an additional 97 vehicles to be used on other projects — the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Regional Connector and fleet replacement. Final assembly of the rail cars will be at a new facility in Palmdale in the Antelope Valley

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New rail car designs in the works

Metro currently has three rail projects under construction: the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Work on two more rail projects, the Regional Connector and Purple Line, is expected to begin later this year. All are funded in part by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008. In addition, Metro has begun receiving the first of 550 new state-of-the-art buses and is spending $1.2 billion to overhaul the Metro Blue Line, including the purchase of new light rail vehicles..

26 replies

  1. Why not a Pacific Electric- or Los Angeles Railway-inspired livery? One would imagine bright red or yellow would be sufficiently visible and (I imagine) more attractive. Also, what kind of camera used these days records at 240p?

  2. Terrific to see! But do the cars have to be grey?? Our entire city is grey, we need color!

  3. Yellow at the front? Good idea. Colours are starting to look more and more like your English counterparts 😛

  4. Oh calm down, all I see here are complaints, be thankful metro are getting new trains. Doesn’t matter if they were pink, orange, purple or green at least they are new.

  5. L.A. Is a global city. Why are we focusing on light rail and not heavy rail like the red and purple lines? Global cities like N.Y., Paris, London, and Tokyo use heavy rail to transport millions! L.A.ought to mimick such efficient systems.

  6. To “ianacbowen”: for several years, we HAD two cars in a throwback PE color scheme. For the first few months, maybe even the first year or so, they even had throwback interiors. Now, sadly, the only places I know of where you can ride cars in PE colors are (1) Disney’s California Adventure (battery operated, under dummy overhead), (2) San Pedro’s mostly-tourist trolley line, and (3) San Francisco’s F line (one PCC in PE colors, among a veritable rainbow of throwback color schemes).

    To “Luis”: Trolley lines (let’s follow San Diego’s example, and call them what they are), like our Blue, Green, Gold, and Expo lines, San Francisco’s MUNI Metro and F lines, the San Diego Trolley, and the Sacramento RT Metro, among many others, are quicker, easier, and cheaper to build, and are more flexible, able to combine private right-of-way with protected-lane (and even unprotected) street-running. By contrast, the Red and Purple lines, and the New York Subway system, Chicago “L”, BART, and so forth, all must run entirely on private right of way, and require considerably more time and money to build.

    Like ours, Boston’s “T” system is a mix. In fact, it’s a far more heterogeneous mix than our own, with very limited ability to interchange even subway cars between lines.

    If we hadn’t so foolishly abandoned the Pacific Electric, right around the time I was born, we’d have a world class urban/interurban rail system too. The reason San Francisco, Chicago, and New York have such big, pervasive rail transit systems is that they never did completely abandon urban rail.

  7. Why would metro use heavy rail when no one in la take public transit? When theres no demand there no heavy rails.

  8. I remember when METRO received new, metallic looking trains for the Gold Line. At first, I missed the seat spacing and placement of the older, yellow and white trains. But eventually, all the older trains were phased out and we were left with what METRO provided. The new trains were shiny and more modern. But like most METRO trains, the new factor wears off with time and without proper care and maintenance.

  9. Why so many different sets of cars? Doesn’t this make maintenance more difficult and expensive?

  10. Who’s gonna pay for heavy rail in LA? Money doesn’t grow on trees you know. And jobs are moving away to Texas (Toyota, Sriracha plant) thanks to the business unfriendly environment in California so don’t say taxes should pay for it either.

  11. To John Doe:

    Your comment reminds me of something that was said back in the late 1980s, when “Metro Rail” referred exclusively to the subway system being built from UnionStation to the West Side, when buses in L.A. County were run by an outfit called the RTD, and when the Blue Line was an entirely separate entity, a joint venture between, as I recall, the RTD and Long Beach Transit (whose buses, at the time, wore a blue and white color scheme not dissimilar to the original Blue Line color scheme).

    At the time, it was said that both systems were big mistakes. It was said that nobody would ride a trolley that passed through Watts and Compton, and that it would be constantly plagued by gang violence. Similar things were said about the Metro Rail subway. And overall, some even suggested that instead of building an urban rail network, it would be cheaper to pay anybody who actually wanted to ride it to drive the freeways instead.

    By 2000, a very big mistake was found in the design of the Blue Line: the station platforms were too short. Passenger demand was packing 2-car peak-commute trains well beyond standing room only, and was continuing to rise. And so for what was already turning out to be the most successful urban rail startup in recent memory, it became necessary to go back to nearly every platform on the line, and extend it an additional carlength, to accommodate 3-car trains. Which today, at peak hours, run on such tight headway that we have congestion on the portion of the line shared with the Expo Line.

    “No one in la [sic] takes public transit” indeed!

  12. James Lampert,

    How many on the Blue Line are actually paying to ride the train? Of course it’ll be popular if everyone knows that you don’t have to pay anything to ride it and it’s easy to beat and cheat the honor system. I’m sure if cars and gas were free everyone would be driving cars too!

  13. And actually, “blag,” there are companies still building rolling stock in the U.S., including not only trolley (both modern and reproduction-vintage) and subway, but also for intercity passenger rail as well.
    Siemens, for example, has U.S. plants. I understand that Amtrak recently placed an order for some locomotives out of the Siemens plant in Sacramento. And if I remember right, aren’t some of our Siemens P2000s U.S.-built?

  14. The mistakes of the Expo and Blue Lines continues to plague us today.

    The platforms are not only too short, but too narrow as well. Sooner or later, with more people turning to transit, people will be shoving around to grab space just to stand and wait on the platforms which will undeniably lead to deadly results.

    The maximum rail car set that be added is three rail cars. And that is at running at full capacity today. What’s to be done when more people turn to transit? Get rid of seats during peak periods and make trains standing room only? Realign the seats so that they all face the aisle instead of a cross seat pattern? Those are the only things that can be done.

    And of course, who would’ve thought that fare evasion would never be a problem and that random police checks would suffice. Stations were never built with gates in mind so that’s a flaw there too.

    The Blue Line is in poor shape with stations reeking of urine. The stations are unsafe with illegal vendors and criminals rule the line as part of their hood. People smoke pot at the stations. No one pays to ride the Blue Line and fare checks are non-existent.

    Everything that Metro has done has been completely wrong and all of these problems could’ve been solved beforehand when they were being built. And Metro has no one but to blame themselves for this mess because everyone knew that Metro was doing things the wrong way from the start.

  15. Kinkisharyo has built the first few test cars in Japan but the bulk of the Order will be made in Palmdale CA at the old Skunk works plant so Local Jobs, in CA

  16. These new light rail vehicles need to get here soon, and in good shape. The Expo Line and Gold Line extensions are coming online in less than two years, and the Crenshaw Line and Regional Connector are coming a few years after that. So we’re going to need a LOT more trains to accommodate all the existing passengers PLUS all the new ones, traveling over longer distances.

    I see some ignorant statements being made about transit in L.A. Transit is very popular here, despite the popular image of L.A. as car-centric. Times have changed. TWICE recently, voters countywide overwhelmingly voted to increase sales tax to pay for more transit (once with over 2/3, and once just shy of 2/3). And, it is a verified fact that the vast majority of light rail passengers pay for their tickets: and those who don’t run the risk of getting caught and having to pay a ticket over 100X the fare price.

  17. metrocenter,

    Perhaps you missed the news that Metro has a 22% fare evasion rate. That’s 1 in 4 who aren’t paying. The risk of getting caught is low because cops can’t keep up with the growing demand of transit riders.

    The honor system needs to go away. Metro’s shortsightedness that the honor system was ever going to work lead us to this fare hike mess. If billions haven’t been lost throughout the years, we wouldn’t need this fare hike.

    • Hi Theo;

      I believe the 22 percent rate that you cite is from a crackdown on fare evasion over the span of part of two days on the Orange Line in December. Obviously a number that should be taken seriously but not a number that should be used systemwide.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  18. A rapid transit paint scheme that is black on the front? What kind of safety is that? If you are going to use bright yellow then also paint it across the front to make the train more visible to oncoming traffic. Just think about your law department trying to defend an accident wherein METRO’s a black-ended trolley collides with an auto.

  19. I totally agree with ”
    Blue Line Rider on May 14, 2014 at 4:39 PM said:
    The mistakes of the Expo and Blue Lines continues to plague us today…..” especially has it pertains to fare evasion and the comments on station activities. but it’s NOT just at the Blue Line. It’s happening on the GOLD, RED/PURPLE and ORANGE Lines too.

    Fare evasion and illegal station activities are having a DIRECT impact on the trains and buses. And as a result, safety for all riders is being jeopardized.

    LA county sheriff and METRO Fare Inspectors really need to gain better control. And just FYI, but standing at the exits checking fares is NOT enough.

  20. i still love the siemens p-2000 they may cost more but p-2000 that’s running with the blueline car today are better built im so sorry the the lacmta cant afford to buy siemens tranpotation rail cars and they look more better the these new cars that being ordered