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US DMU maker fails; SMART looks to Siemens for its DMUs

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  • 1/6 Santa Rosa Press
    Published Tuesday, January 6, 2009, by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat Railroad car company stops production but SMART trains on track By Bob Norberg The Press
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 6, 2009
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      Published Tuesday, January 6, 2009, by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat

      Railroad car company stops production but SMART trains on track

      By Bob Norberg
      The Press Democrat

      The Colorado manufacturer of the passenger railcars initially chosen
      by transit planners for the Sonoma-Marin commute train service has
      gone out of business.

      Colorado Railcars, the only U.S. maker of passenger cars to meet
      federal crash specifications, shut down its Fort Lupton, Colo.,
      manufacturing plant on Dec. 23.

      "This doesn't come as a surprise, we have known they have been having
      problems for a while," said Chris Coursey, spokesman for the Sonoma
      Marin Area Rail Transit district. "We were aware they had serious
      financial problems."

      Colorado Railcar on its Internet site <http://www.coloradorailcar.com>
      says it has ceased operations and is going through liquidation.

      The closure may have little effect on SMART, which can choose to run
      lighter, European-style, diesel-powered railcars instead.

      If it chooses to stay with the heavier cars, however, Siemens
      Transportation Inc. of Germany is planning to develop and build such
      cars at its Sacramento plant, filling the void left by Colorado
      Railcar.

      "It is part of our growth strategy and product development plan, we
      clearly see a niche market," said Frank Guzzo, business development
      director in Sacramento. "We are in the development stage."

      Since passing a quarter-cent sales tax in Sonoma and Marin counties
      in November, SMART is now looking to start Cloverdale-to-Larkspur
      service in 2014.

      SMART is planning to issue requests for proposals for its rail cars
      within the next two months and award a purchase contract next year.

      The transit district has budgeted $88 million for 14 self-propelled,
      diesel-powered rail cars. The cars will take two to three years to
      build.

      SMART had initially specified the Colorado Railcar vehicles, which
      are classed as heavy rail, diesel-powered vehicles, in its 2006
      environmental impact report.

      However, in a 2008 supplemental report, SMART indicated that it could
      also use a light-weight, European-style railcars by running freight
      train service in off hours.

      "The major difference between the two is how they operate in
      conjunction with freight on the same corridor," Coursey said. "To
      use the light cars, you need to have time separation, they cannot
      be operating at the same time as freight."

      The most popular light-weight cars available are made by Siemens in
      Germany.

      There are 12 of them in use by the North Coast Transit District in
      San Diego on its 22-mile Sprinter service from Oceanside to Escondido.

      Spokesman Tom Kelleher said to meet the federal rules for running
      light-weight cars and freight together, the freight service runs at
      night.

      SMART believes it can schedule freight service in the mid-morning
      and mid-afternoons, when the commute trains are not running.

      Coursey said Siemens' plans would likely be taken into account as
      SMART decides what to buy.

      "I think it is the case with any manufacturer, they have people on-
      site when a project starts up, but having the manufacturer 90 miles
      away rather than 6,000 miles away is an advantage," Coursey said.


      [BATN: See also:

      TriMet DMU supplier Colorado Railcar goes out of business
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/40140

      Only US DMU manufacturer Colorado Railcar to liquidate
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/40139

      Colorado Railcar DMU deal cost Portland's TriMet millions
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/40138

      Comment: Light rail the wrong technology for 70-mile SMART corridor
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/37766

      Sprinter DMU opening applauded: "kinda cool... not noisy... sleek"
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/37659

      New SMART report adds weekend service, lighter DMUs & freights
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/37658

      Letter: SMART unacceptable as a heavy rail DMU-based system
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/35162

      Transit officials find Sprinter DMUs "pretty fast" and "quiet"
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/34645

      Siemens unveils first European DMU rail car for US market
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/31927 ]
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