Apparently there are rail buffs in the Czech Republic as well as in Portland. Some of them are snapping pictures of our next three Streetcars as they travel around the streets of Ostrava during their burn-in. (More photos here.)

They’ve come a long way since I first saw them, but the cars are badly overdue. They should have been here last summer, in time for the Gibbs opening. It’s still an open question whether they will make it here in time to help carry the load to the Tram public opening in late January.

The current plan is to expedite their shipment by sending them to Baltimore (rather than through the canal), then truck them across the country to Porltand.

15 responses to “Anticipation…”

  1. Out of curiosity, Chris…

    Would you know what the approximate cost (in US dollars)of these cars are when and if they are sold locally in Eastern Europe, as compared to their cost on delivery to Portland? I think a lot of products are forced to compete on markets where there simply isn’t as much money to spend—but marked-up if its going to America. OTOH I know some costs are fixed at what they are—regardless of the export destination.

  2. Ron, I have no idea, and there’s not really an apples to applies comparison because we have unique specs. For example we have ADA-compliant bridge plates that aren’t like anything these use in the local market (theirs seem to be designed for strollers, not wheelchairs).

    On the other hand, part of the reason we bought the Czech cars is that they were simple and didn’t have a lot of bells and whistles.

    And I can assure you that we’re hard negotiatiors on price. The latest set of cars have a much better price than the first set in local Czech currency, but exchange rate changes in the last five years have erased a lot of that advantage.

  3. I guess with the rapid increase of value of US real estate a number of things have become more affordable…

  4. The look of the front-end of the new cars is interesting, sort of resembles a face (if you accept that the “eyes” of the headlights are below the “nose” of the windshield wiper motor area)… I can almost see the cartoon mascot now! :-)

    – Bob R.

  5. So what are the costs on the new cars?

    …and is that puke 70s Green really gonna be the color of the cars? I don’t mean to fuss over something I think personally irrelevant but that green, it’s gonna make people in this country sick. Maybe it’s kewl in the Czeck Republic but I’m not seeing that being ok here.

    The extended length one is awesome looking, is that 4 doors down the side vs. the 3 on the ones we’re getting? Blagh, I digress, I still think we should go no articulation save a chunk of $$ but more cars and run more frequency.

    But alas, awesome theat they’re actually built.


    Why truck? Why not freight train? I’m serious that seems serious counter intuitive and very anti-Portland motive. It’ll take less fuel, about the same time, and UP or BNSF should be able to get em’ here for half the price. Hell, strap em’ to a flat car and you’re set. Can’t do that on a truck?!??!??!!

    Anyway… maybe there is other motive, please enlighten me.

  6. then truck them across the country to Portland.

    In winter? I have a bad feeling we’re going to see a 3-streetcar pileup east of Troutdale during an ice storm… :-)

    – Bob R.

  7. Is there any chance of us being able to bring manufacturing to the US? With the amount of new lines we’re talking about building out I’d hate to be held up by manufacturing. Would local manufacturing bring costs down?

  8. The “apple green” is one of two colors we added to the palette with this round of vehicles. Vehicle colors have been the single most contentious issue in the history of Streetcar and I’m not getting myself involved :-)

    Truck vs. train and the route are up to the experts. In this case they are optimizing on time-to-delivery because of both the Tram openning and the challenges we are having keeping 6 cars in operations when we only have 7 cars total.

    The RFP for the U.S. prototype has been our for a while and I expect word on the selection of a manufacturer very soon.

  9. I can’t say enough in support of manufacturing these streetcars locally. Ideally, they’d be able to drive right out of Oregon Iron Works and straight onto the streetcar/light rail system.

    Also, it’d be ideal if the LRV’s used by Tri-Met could be produced at the same facility, but I suppose that’s probably a longer shot? Why is this rocket science? It would seem to be a no-brainer to try to develop the production capacity for this stuff locally, both to create more local jobs and to reduce transportation expenses for whole vehicles…

  10. Garlynn –

    Much of the assembly of the Siemens LRVs used by TriMet occurs in Northern California, in a facility that makes LRVs for numerous systems throughout the country. Economies of scale factor in which would be lost with local LRV production unless multiple cities shifted their orders up here…

    However, in the case of the Streetcar, it is something that is currently not manufactured in the USA, which makes it ineligible for certain federal funds, so there would be a distinct advantage to moving production somewhere, anywhere, within the USA. Having that production become local to Portland is a plus for us, as well.

    Thus, I can easily see the Portland area becoming a center for Streetcar production in the near future, but not for large scale LRV production… however, if successful, that streetcar production could grow into LRV production over time.

    – Bob R.

  11. Bob-

    I agree with you that LRV production could only evolve as a long range goal, and only after streetcar production was well-established.

    Currently, however, the Siemens LRV vehicles that experience final assembly in Sacramento are actually mostly constructed in Germany, then shipped to Sacramento for the final bit in order to satisfy the Buy America requirement. Or, at least, that was the case during the Westside Light Rail Project — I’m not sure how much has changed since 1997-98.

  12. Garlynn –

    A follow-up on Siemens… this PDF press release seems to state that the current crop of vehicles is “designed and manufactured” at the plant in Sacramento (this plant opened sometime after 2000).

    It further goes on to say that the plant is “only permanent U.S. light rail manufacturing facility on U.S. soil”, and the press release avoids using the word “import” or “assembly”.

    Of course, this is just a corporate press release and could contain a fair deal of spin on the word “manufacture”. I know from looking at Siemens’ international site that the S70 LRV is a joint European-USA design, the first LRV design to be available in the same configuration on two continents (according to them.)

    – Bob R.

  13. I really like these new Streetcars – pretty nice styling those Czechs have put in them!

    But oh baby, those Siemens S70 LRV’s are really sweet looking! I cannot wait for them to start running on the I-205 segment. Truly sleek, modern, high tech design. Unfortunately, I can’t really say the ame for the commuter rail cars, which are flat-out FUGLY!

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