Discussion related to commuter rail and transit operators in California past and present including Los Angeles Metrolink and Metro Subway and Light Rail, San Diego Coaster, Sprinter and MTS Trolley, Altamont Commuter Express (Stockton), Caltrain and MUNI (San Francisco), Sacramento RTD Light Rail, and others...

Moderator: lensovet

  by electricron
I'm not going to argue against seating or passenger capacity differences between the different types of rail cars because there are. But, I sincerely believe the DMUs should have lower fuel consumption and therefore emit less pollution. In a "green" state like California, pollution is a major issue.

I've read much about the efficiency of push-pull vs DMU trains, and most commenters suggest push-pull trains become more efficient at 4 cars - that at 3 cars or less DMUs are more efficient. I'm not qualified to state if that's true or not. Because the size of San Rafael city blocks downtown, push-pull trains will be limited to 2 cars, whether they're single of double deckers.

Not every commuter train in America uses double decker cars. I see nothing wrong with SMART using single deck cars initially. Maybe when it's time to add more cars to the SMART fleet double decker cars can be bought then.

I realize people look at data, especially subsidy per rider, closely. But when the train agency is losing money on every rider, that's not what counts. Subsidy per rider data is used to determine what type of system to run, and how much of it. But politically, they're expected to provide trains at a certain frequency so many hours a day. The cheaper they run those trains, the lower their operating costs are. How many engineers and conductors they need is set by the number of trains they run. The only other variable to reduce costs is to increase the fuel efficiency of their trains.
Short trains are apparently best ran with DMUs.
  by E-44
electricron wrote:SMART plans to buy bascule bridge near Galveston instead of refurbishing swing bridge over Petaluma River.
Seems like a very shrewd decision. But what I want to know is where the "used bridge marketplace" is? How did the SMART team find out about the availability of the bridge? Craigslist?
  by kaitoku
Smart has groundbreaking ceremony:
North Coast politicians and transit supporters gathered in Petaluma on Friday for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the SMART commute train that will run between Sonoma and Marin counties.

“This is a historic moment, it has been a long time coming,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma. “We simply can't meet our transportation needs by building roads. It's not cost-effective. It is not smart.”

The ceremony was held at the historic Petaluma depot and attracted a crowd of 400, a large number of whom took turns with the 49 golden shovels to turn over a mound of dirt crossing the tracks.
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20 ... n-Petaluma
  by Jeff Smith
Bond sale completed: http://www.progressiverailroading.com/p ... p?id=30889
The bond sale will net the agency $171 million in construction dollars and additional funds in construction reserves that will help build the rail line, buy trains, and build bridges, crossings and stations, agency officials said in a prepared statement. SMART plans to build a 70-mile line between Marin and Sonoma counties. Plans call for the system’s first leg between Santa Rosa and San Rafael to open in 2014.
  by kaitoku
Concrete ties delivered:
The first shipment of concrete ties to rebuild the rail line between Sonoma and Marin counties for passenger trains was delivered to Santa Rosa by rail Thursday, a milestone as construction gets under way.

“Everything we do from now on is a big step; it is finally happening,” said SMART Chairwoman Valerie Brown. “Now there is the expenditure of the money, the hiring of people. There are going to be a lot things that will be occurring that people will see. We are building a railroad"
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20 ... ?p=1&tc=pg

*sure is better to see this than the whining of negative nellies and their boondoggle cries...
  by kaitoku
Another nice report by Press Democrat reporter Bob Norberg:
Rail pieces for SMART tracks unloaded in Santa Rosa

Published: Friday, July 6, 2012 at 2:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 6, 2012 at 2:54 p.m.

Pieces of rail each longer than five football fields were unloaded Friday along the SMART line in Santa Rosa, the steel bending in long arcs as it slid off a special train onto the ground.

“When you look at a piece of rail that is a foot long, it is very stiff, but over 1,600 feet, it is like a noodle,” said Keith Tarkalson, project supervisor for the construction firm Stacy and Witbeck, one of two firms rebuilding the line for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency.
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20 ... ?p=1&tc=pg
  by kaitoku
Illinois Factory Poised to Start Making SMART Railcars
Diesel multiple-unit cars should be shipped here by late summer 2013, according to manufacturer Nippon Sharyo USA.

We're about one year away from seeing the first high-efficiency, low-emission railcars taking test runs on SMART tracks.

The Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit District announced Thursday that the Nippon Sharyo USA passenger railcar factory opened in Rochelle, Ill., and will start fulfilling its $39 million contract to make 12 diesel multiple-unit cars for the new commuter train service in Marin and Sonoma counties.
http://sanrafael.patch.com/articles/ill ... san-rafael
Thursday, July 19, 2012, 6:06 pm
Manufacturing begins on SMART railcars
U.S.-made cars qualify SMART for ARRA funds
By Eric Gneckow, Business Journal Staff Reporter

In what officials are calling a milestone, an Illinois factory configured to construct 12 railcars for the planned Sonoma Marian Area Rail Transit system officially opened its doors today, with the first set of railcars expected to arrive in the North Bay for testing by the third quarter of 2013.
http://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/ ... -railcars/
  by Alloy
In better economic times, I'd be working over in Marin county every other week, as my business partner was located there. I watched the various ballot issues come and go, and when SMART finally went through, I crossed my fingers. It was far from popular, and a weak economy brought up the same arguments that the stat of California is facing when it comes to rail--"We can't afford good schools and fire protection, and now you're going to build a railroad?"

I was familiar with the abandoned ROW that SMART will be using, and I noticed that little changed about it for almost two years after the measure passed. So it's good to see that they're moving ahead with it.
  by Jeff Smith
http://www.marinij.com/novato/ci_211767 ... um=twitter
The first Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit district rail car should arrive in the fall of 2013 for testing, according to train officials.

The Nippon Sharyo USA Passenger Railcar Factory opened earlier this month in Rochelle, Ill. One of the first products off the factory floor will be a car for SMART that will be used for the rail line that will connect San Rafael to Santa Rosa as part of a $360 million project.


While local service is not set to start until 2016, the train will be used to test the train, track and other aspects of the system, Mansourian said.

In 2010 Sumitomo bid $82.7 million to deliver nine, three-car trains to the system. SMART had planned on spending between $80 million and $90 million on the cars. But SMART scaled back and has its initial plan calling for nine two-car trains, reducing the cost of the cars to about $60 million.

SMART plans to use rail cars known as diesel multiple units that have engines in each car, allowing them to operate independently in sets of two. Eventually a middle third car could be added if the system grows. The cars will meet specifications set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that take effect by 2014.
  by kaitoku
Interesting bits about the use of concrete ties on SMART:
SMART specified CXT Concrete Ties over wood ties for this important transit project after researching the environmental and cost benefits of both products. “This project is a great example of agency and engineering firms working closely with CXT in an extraordinary effort to specify environmentally-sound ties with proven life cycle cost benefits for a critical transit system,” said Mark Hammons, L.B. Foster National Sales Manager for CXT Concrete Ties.

A SMART Project design report notes “the use of concrete ties resulted in estimated track costs from 10% to 15% lower than the use of timber ties using conventional track construction methods. If a mechanized track laying system were to be employed, costs could be as much as 40% lower.” The transit agency further stated, “life cycle costs for concrete ties are lower than timber ties due primarily to higher maintenance costs for timber ties; greenhouse gas emissions associated with the manufacture and life cycle of concrete ties appear to be less than timber tie emissions; concrete ties avoid the use of wood preservatives; concrete ties avoid the disposal issue associated with treated timber ties removed from service.”
http://www.dailymarkets.com/stock/2012/ ... t-project/
  by neroden
Oddly, the photos from SMART show the use of wood ties in grade crossings (???) despite the use of concrete ties everywhere else. I'd love to hear the logic behind this. I know it's easier to use wood for switches, but for grade crossings?
  by kaitoku
SMART to be begin service in "early 2016":
With reconstruction of the Sonoma-Marin commute rail line well under way, officials say the system is within budget and on track to begin service in early 2016.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit district, in an initial progress report, said it has awarded construction contracts totalling $153.5 million.

A second round that could total about $150 million will be awarded by spring, leaving an additional $60 million for staffing and engineering, said Farhad Mansourian, SMART's general manager.

"Once we award those last two contracts, we will know exactly where we are, budget-wise," Mansourian said. "From where we are, everything looks good."
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20 ... 6-service-
  by Jeff Smith
Airport extension planned: Progressive Railroading
Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit to receive $12.5 million in state funds for airport extension

California's Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) has finalized $12.5 million for the first phase of Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit's (SMART) airport extension project.

Designated for a four-mile extension from North Santa Rosa to the Santa Rosa Airport area, the funds were approved by MTC last week, according to a press release issued by California State Sen. Noreen Evans. She helped coordinate local efforts to secure SMART funding and asked MTC to consider investing in an expansion north to the Sonoma County Airport and south to Larkspur.

...The funding will enable SMART to expand the reach of the project's first phase in tandem with its 2013 construction package, said SMART Chairwoman Judy Arnold.
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