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USA: M-1 RAIL selects Inekon tramways

M-1 RAIL announced it has selected a vendor and will begin negotiations for the design and build of six 100% low-floor tramways to enter service on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue route beginning in 2016 (Michigan).  The value of the contract is expected to be approximately USD 30 million. 

“M-1 RAIL will negotiate the final terms and conditions with Inekon Group to build our streetcars,” said Paul Childs, chief operating officer of M-1 RAIL.   “Inekon has a strong track record with other streetcar projects in Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., and owns a 40-percent share of U.S.-installed projects.  While Inekon is headquartered in the Czech Republic, our requirements specify that it will be compliant with the U.S. Government’s “Buy America” initiative.”

Childs said that the Buy America provisions ensure that U.S.-based transportation infrastructure projects are built with American-made products.  “We want to assure that materials, parts, labor, manufacturing processes, and final assembly will meet the Buy America requirements.”   Childs said that the M-1 team will announce a final assembly location in the future, but added that several locations in Southeast Michigan are under consideration.  “It’s too early to talk about any sourcing or potential manufacturing locations, but we are committed to the principles of Buy America’s support of U.S.-based suppliers and the families who work for them.”

M-1 RAIL’s streetcars also will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), allowing for station-level access for pedestrians, and persons who use mobility assist devices such as wheelchairs.  Vertical bicycle racks will be included in the design to accommodate Detroit’s burgeoning bicycle community, as well as wireless access for busy passengers, and HVAC systems to facilitate the swings in Michigan’s weather.

 The 22 meters long vehicle will be operator-driven, with a double-ended, double-sided configuration.  They will be powered by lithium-ion battery packs, enabling the entire line to run “60 percent off-wire,” said Childs.   Other design-build aspects include:  regenerative braking that adds to the efficiency of the line; ability to travel in the same lane at the same speed as bus and vehicle traffic;  eliminating multi-level trip hazards on-board; and doors in three locations on each car to efficiently manage access and egress.

M-1 RAIL is a non-profit organization formed in 2007 to lead the design, construction, and future operation of a 3.3-mile circulating streetcar along Woodward Avenue between Congress Street and West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan. M-1 RAIL is an unprecedented public-private partnership and model for regional collaboration Notably, the first major transit project being led and funded by both private businesses, philanthropic organizations, in partnership with local government, the State of Michigan, and U.S. Department of Transportation.

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