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
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..