Sound Transit identifies proposed manufacturer for light rail trains

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Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Ron Sims today announced the results of a competitive process for selecting a builder for Central Link light rail trains. The top-rated proposal that staff will recommend to the Sound Transit Board is that of Kinkisharyo International LLC and Mitsui & Co. (USA) Inc., a joint venture bringing together firms with extensive experience in public transit.

"Just a few weeks ago we broke ground on the Central Link initial segment," Sims said. "Today, I'm excited to announce a proposed contract award for building the actual light rail trains. The final assembly of the cars will happen right here in the Puget Sound region, creating jobs and strengthening our local economy."

"We are making progress building an alternative to clogged roads and creating thousands of new jobs," said Seattle Mayor and Sound Transit Board Member Greg Nickels.

Kinkisharyo-Mitsui's proposal was selected based on price, technical requirements and compliance with other qualifying criteria. Beginning next week, the Sound Transit Board will review a proposed expenditure of up to $131.8 million - $6.5 million below the amount earlier budgeted - for Kinkisharyo-Mitsui to design, manufacture and deliver 31 low-floor light rail cars and provide associated equipment and support. The contract calls for the first vehicle to be delivered by November 2006 and for remaining vehicles to be ready no later than September 2008.

The Central Link system, which is projected to carry 42,500 riders daily by 2020, will accommodate trains of up to four linked cars. Initially, two-car trains will run every six minutes in each direction during peak commute hours. Ridership growth will be met by running trains as often as every three minutes and linking up to four cars per train.

The 95-foot electric-powered cars will be constructed of low-alloy, high-tensile steel. Each car can comfortably carry 200 passengers with 74 seated. Their low floors will align flush with station platforms, offering easy access for people with wheelchairs and strollers. Both ends will feature operating cabs, enabling travel in either direction.

Under the joint venture, Kinkisharyo is responsible for designing, manufacturing, assembling, and testing the cars. The company has manufactured transit vehicles in Japan since 1920 and in the 1980s expanded into the U.S. market, with sales of 389 vehicles to date to transit systems in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas and California. Mitsui, an international firm with operations in transportation, telecommunications and other industries, is proposed to play roles in financing, insuring and shipping the vehicles.

Click here to view Central Link light rail car facts (to view this .pdf document, you'll need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software).

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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.