The Metro Blue Line says hello/goodbye to new/old rail cars

And here’s the video showing the first new Kinkisharyo train on the Blue Line in May:

As we posted a couple months ago, the oldest rail cars on the Blue Line  — the Nippon Sharyo P865s — will be replaced with the new Kinkisharyo P3010 cars to enhance passenger service and improve vehicle reliability and maintainability.

Most of the old P865 cars will be dismantled for parts, beginning with car #105 shown above getting a tow earlier this week. Some will be used for ceremonial displays and others will be sent to educational institutions for training. The rest will be scrapped.

The P865 rail cars have been in service since 1990, when the Blue Line opened between downtown Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles. The Blue Line was the first rail transit line in our region since the demise of the streetcars in the L.A. area in 1963.

Each of the 67 old rail cars was named after a city or community along or near the Blue Line. The first car carried the number 100 and was named after Long Beach. In February, car 105 with the name of “Bell” — for the city of Bell — was the first to be taken out of service and dismantled for parts.

In July, two more cars will also be retired from service. Four cars a month will then be retired beginning in August.

The Kinkisharyo trains debuted last year on the Gold Line and then the Expo Line. The Kinkisharyo P3010 cars are manufactured in Japan and then assembled at a Kinkisharyo facility in Palmdale under a contract approved by the Metro Board of Directors in August 2012.

In January 2014, Metro announced a $1.2 billion overhaul of the Blue Line. The multiyear program aimed to bolster reliability, comfort and safety by replacing electrical equipment, overhead wires, tracks and rail cars. Stations have also been refurbished.

The Blue Line remains the busiest of Metro’s four light rail lines and has averaged about 70,000 weekday boardings in 2017. Metro’s Blue Line has 22 stations between downtown Long Beach and the 7th Street/Metro Center in downtown Los Angeles, where it connects with the Red/Purple Line subway and the Expo Line. The Metro Blue Line serves Los Angeles Trade Technical College, the famed Watts Towers and connects to the Metro Green Line at the Willowbrook station.

Here’s the full news release with quotes from elected officials. Oh, and a little Hello/Goodbye…

11 replies

  1. With the shortage of cars I’m wondering if the old cars can still be used coupled between new cars on three car trains. I observed this common practice in San Diego and seems to work well. Although the motive portion of the cars could be non operational only the interior and door control systems would have to be maintained while reducing over crowding.

    If this is not possible due to incompatibility then again we see a lack of forward thinking when the new equipment was ordered. Over and over again we see the MTA engaged in making decisions that has lead to a segmented system where light rail lines are not interconnected in many cases with the inability to move equipment from one line to another to avoid over crowding for special events or changes in passenger loads. In addition if all the lines were interconnected new routes could be created using existing tracks. A good example would be a Blue Line train diverted on to Green Line tracks at Imperial Station providing direct service from the CBD to LAX. The same could have been created with the Expo Line to the Crenshaw Line. This is not a new concept. It worked very efficiently on the Pacific Electric and they had no high tech train control system instead relying on schedules and visual operations.

    • There is a “back door” connection between the Blue and Green Lines (in the southeast corner) at Imperial/Rosa Parks. I suspect it is still in use for equipment transfer between the two lines. I suspect that this same connection could be used after 2023 to permit equipment transfer, but not an operational connection, between the Crenshaw and the Green Lines which will connect at LAX.

      An Expo-Crenshaw connection would be more complex because the former is elevated and the latter is underground. However, such a connection could be an asset in providing one-seat service to LAX.

      The Regional Connector will connect the Gold, Blue, and Expo Lines for through operation on only these lines,

      I agree that perhaps a fully operational connection could be constructed northwest of Imperial/Rosa Parks. However, it would require a a new tunnel and perhaps a widening of the I-105. Alternately, it could be an aerial (flying) junction, In either case, a flat junction would most likely create operational constraints such as those that exist at the Blue-Expo junction at Flower and Washington.

      A far better solution would be a Blue Line branch along Slauson that connects with the Crenshaw Line and provides one-seat service between Union Station, the CBD, and LAX.

      BTW – This lack of adequate rail transit to LAX has been flagged as unacceptable by yours truly and in several Engineering Consultants reports on the LAX Landside Access Modernization Project or LAMP.

      • The Expo Line runs at street level at Crenshaw Boulevard, FWIW.

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

  2. Good question. They may have identical couplers but I doubt they can MU (operate as multiple units), as the control systems are always being upgraded. This is the main problem with insisting that all classes can MU with each other.

    Even the Pacific Electric was guilty of incompatibility. Even though they had the same couplers, the Hollywoods (600 class) could not MU with the PCs (5000 class). Same was true for their 1100 and 1200 class interurbans, as the latter could operate on both 600 and 1,200 volts, Same with their box motors. They all had standard railroad knuckle couplers, but they could not all MU.

    Same is true for Long Island Rail Road M3 and M7 EMU cars and the New York subway cars. . However, these classes contain hundreds of cars and thus interoperability is really not an issue.

    It is a miracle that railroad diesel locomotives irrespective of manufacturer or date of erection can operate as multiple units. I don’t know how the railroads upgrade their diesel MU control systems,

  3. Meanwhile, all of Cleveland’s Light Rail Cars from 1980, all of Buffalo’s are from 1983, Edmonton has has cars from 1978 which are being rebuilt, and Toronto is now replacing cars from 1977. San Diego had cars from 1979 that were still usable so instead of scrapping they were sold (for cash) to Argentina in 2010. The remainder of those “U2” cars ran until 2015 (35 years).

    https://www.sdmts.com/inside-mts/news-release/san-diego-u2-trolleys-successfully-operate-argentina

    • Many of the Pacific electric cars saw extensive service after the abandonment of the PE lines. Some went to Portland OR and others went to Argentina,

  4. These 30 y/o cars are WORN OUT and falling apart due to Metro not rebuilding them at their midlife point.
    To use a railroad expression, management was ‘asleep at the switch’.
    Maintenance isn’t sexy to promote to our elected politicos, shiny new infrastructure is.

    Hopefully a few will be donated to the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris for preservation, not parked somewhere to be vandalized.

  5. This is great! The Blue Line sorely deserves new vehicles, being the busiest light rail line.

  6. Oh, the memories. I was sent out with our Marketing and our Corporate Transit Program departments to promote the Blue Line a year before it became operational. We went to parks, supermarkets, banks, Warner Brother Studios, and community events. At the time, it was a concept that was more abstract than anything else; although the rail was being laid, our community didn’t really grasped the idea.

    However, the Blue Line became so successful, that a surprising volume of our ridership, requested the Blue Line to be included in their routes, inclusive of routes in which the Blue Line was just too far from their route to be part of their itineraries.

  7. MikeF, Orange Empire has received an old San Diego train set that looks brand new. No scratches, no dents. Hopefully they will find an enclosed structure to house it in before it starts to deteriorate.

  8. Sad. I only hope Metro meticulously considered all other options before deciding to scrap, given the current car shortage, which will doubtlessly be exacerbated in 2 short years by Crenshaw. The P865s were always my favorites besides…