Charlotte, North Carolina is the second largest city in South Eastern United States and its urban population is continuously expanding. As the third fastest growing city in the country, transport authorities are improving the urban mobility for its passengers. The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is a public transit system which operates across Mecklenburg County and four surrounding counties. It offers over 70 local express, regional bus routes and a light rail line. A deal has now been signed between Siemens and Charlotte City Council to build six new S70 streetcars for the CATS. The S70 streetcars will be designed with advanced hybrid technology that features an industry-leading battery storage system. This technology allows for operation in portions of Uptown without the need for power from an overhead wire. The new streetcars will add to the 42 Siemens-built light rail vehicles currently in operation on the Blue Line across the city.
In a recent interview, SmartRail World’s Sarah Wright spoke to John Lewis, ( @johnlewcats ) CEO of Charlotte Area Transit Systems who gave his view on future rail investments in the region. “We will see increased investment in local rail service as commuting and mobility options and more build out of rail systems. Forgive the cliché, but I believe we will go “back to the future” and see rail as a viable travel option. In the 1800s and 1900s we saw an explosion of rail system building and activity. In fact, streetcar lines were instrumental in the development of many neighborhoods. More recently, we’ve seen light rail revitalize communities. Rail integration into public transit systems will become a normal occurrence.”
In November 2007, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) ( @CATSRideTransit ) opened the South Corridor Light Rail Transit System, known as the “LYNX” Blue Line, marking the first use of light rail transit in the history of North Carolina, USA. The 9.6 mile project links south Charlotte with the uptown City of Charlotte, connecting local neighbourhoods and businesses. STV was involved in this project from the start, playing a lead role that included the design and construction management oversight of 13 bridges, 15 stations, infrastructure improvements, track/catenary system, and major facilities including the 92,000-square-foot vehicle maintenance facility and 1,000-space parking garage. The second phase of this project was the City LYNX Gold Line is scheduled to begin January 2017 and is estimated to open in fall 2020. Siemen’s new streetcars will run on this CityLYNX Gold Line, replacing the legacy green and yellow trolleys currently in operation. The new phase will add 2.5 miles to the Gold Line, expanding it to 4 miles in length ending at Sunnyside Avenue to the east and Johnson C. Smith University to the west.
For your opportunity to speak with rail industry experts like SNCF, Deutsch Bahn and Network Rail come along to our 7th annual SmartRail Europe event in Amsterdam.
The streetcars will include features that enhance the overall riding experience and operational performance including traffic light preemption, pedestrian-friendly front mask, an automatic passenger counter with enhanced 3D infrared sensor technology, large passenger windows for increased visibility and improved passenger safety, and an unobstructed floor concept that allows more space for bicycle storage and wheelchairs. The battery-storage technology being implemented on the CATS streetcar was first demonstrated in San Diego, achieving a world record for the longest distance travelled by a battery-powered tram from one charge in 24 hours.
“The CityLYNX Gold Line is an essential component of the Charlotte region’s overall transit system, complementing the LYNX Blue Line and future extension in the south and northeast corridors. Linking east to west, this streetcar line provides connectivity and opportunity throughout Uptown and it’s neighboring communities”, said Lewis. “We are excited to work with The Johnson Bros. Corporation and Siemens as we move forward with the expansion of this vital project.”
“Siemens is thrilled to continue our partnership with the CATS by being chosen to provide riders with the industry’s most modern streetcars,” said Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Rolling Stock. “Cities like Charlotte are leading the way in redefining what transportation means in America, and we’re proud to build rail vehicles in the U.S. for the U.S. that help make this possible.”
You may also be interested in: