Two SMART cars pass important early tests in Japan
Authorities hope new cars arrive by early spring 2015
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By Mira Brody  April 25, 2014 12:00 am

New SMART train cars are one step closer to arriving in Sonoma County, green diesel engines soon becoming a familiar mark on the local tracks, which have stood empty for almost 20 years.

SMART, in their recent Board of Director’s meeting, announced the completion of two rail cars, which have passed preliminary tests in the Nippon Sharyo factory in Toyokawa, Japan. They will now be shipped by boat and rail to the Sumitomo Corp. of America plant in Rochelle, Ill.

“The cars are essentially shells,” explained SMART Community Outreach Manager Matt Stevens. “They are shipped to the factory in Illinois in order to be assembled.”

SMART plans to have a total of 12 train cars running on the track at a time, with two to spare.

By assembling the rest in the states, SMART will meet transportation federal funding requirements, part of a program called Buy America. After being assembled in Illinois, the cars will undergo rigorous testing in Pueblo, Colo. before finally reaching Sonoma County.

“Train service in Sonoma and Marin will be provided in state-of-the art diesel multiple unit vehicles which will be the least polluting and safest passenger rail cars available,” according to the SMART board.

“We hope to see these new cars in Sonoma County by early spring 2015,” says Stevens.

With the existing $56 million contract with Sumitomo Corp., SMART can purchase up to 80 units, more than needed. Some extras may be sold to rail authorities in Canada and Oregon, saving money for the projected rail projects to Larkspur and Cloverdale.

Commuter service between Santa Rosa and San Rafael will begin in late 2016.

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