UTA contracts for 77 light-rail cars, options 180 more
Request is the largest-ever order for transit cars from Siemens' plant in Sacramento
New Trax Line at Gateway Photos! by SLC Projects
Trax stop at the gateway, how cool is that.
The New Siemens-S70 arriving soon in Salt Lake City
Utah's rail revolution is about to power up with a massive train order, accelerating the program to a pace unseen at any American transit agency.
The light-rail system that started in 1999 and now runs 69 electric rail cars just ordered 77 new ones, with an option for many more. The initial order is for $277 million with Siemens, and breaks that company's record for the largest-ever light-rail vehicle order, the company will announce today.
It's far larger than Siemens' last order, a 55-car batch for Denver.
The Germany-based corporation builds rail cars in Sacramento, Calif.
"This is a large order," Utah Transit Authority spokeswoman Carrie Bohnsack-Ware acknowledged. "However, many agencies that are experiencing high growth on their systems have larger orders. . . .This is, however, Siemens' largest single order out of their Sacramento facility."
The purchase is part of UTA's "Frontlines 2015" program extending TRAX light rail from downtown to Salt Lake City International Airport and from the Salt Lake-Sandy rail line to West Jordan, West Valley City and Draper. The program and the rail cars are funded 80 percent through local sales taxes and 20 percent by the federal government.
Siemens' news release about the contract lists an option for 180 more rail cars, though UTA General Manager John Inglish said the agency most likely won't use that many. It's common practice to secure more than needed at a good bulk price, he said, then offer the excess to another transit system that needs the cars. That's how UTA bought its first light-rail cars, on an option from San Diego's system, he said.
"I'm not sure why we have an option for 180. Wishful thinking, maybe," Inglish said. "We probably will always order more than we need, in order to get a good buy."
UTA will need the initial 77 cars and more to operate the four new rail lines, though, he said. And Bohnsack-Ware said the option gives UTA wiggle room if the rider response is bigger than expected, as was the case when TRAX first opened.
"If we see this huge crush of riders like we did on the Sandy-Salt Lake line and we need to buy more, then we can," she said.
UTA is scheduled to break ground on the new Mid-Jordan TRAX line today.
Siemens built 40 of the cars already in use on TRAX. They're the newer, sleeker cars as opposed to used cars purchased from other agencies. The new order is for Siemens' S-70, a more rounded model used in San Diego, Houston and Charlotte, N.C. It's also more accessible for those with disabilities because its floor aligns with the station platforms, eliminating the stairwells, Bohnsack-Ware said.
"Winning the Salt Lake City UTA contract demonstrates the confidence our customers have in Siemens and our products well into the future and further enables us to reinforce our long-term commitment to the riding public," Siemens Transportation Systems CEO Oliver Hauck said in a statement. The company has grown its Sacramento work force by 30 percent in the past two years.