There is a lot that new trains go through before they are cleared to pick up and drop off passengers. In fact, it can take several months between the time a new Siemens train arrives at Valley Metro’s Operation and Maintenance Center and when it is ready to hit the tracks.
The first step is inspection and modification. Trains are modified to fit Valley Metro specifications. Once that process is complete, it’s time to start testing. One important component of testing is clear tracks and limited traffic. Because of those factors, most of it is done between the hours of midnight to 4 A.M.
The first tests get the train integrated to the tracks by starting with some of the basics like tracking, which shows where trains are always on the tracks. The “integrated testing” also includes a street traffic and safe breaking test.
Now it’s time to hit the road. New trains will spend the incoming months collecting miles on the tracks to break them in. The standard test sees the train maneuver on the tracks at up to 35 miles per hour, which is standard with for Valley Metro.
High speed testing begins after nearly a month of the standard speed testing. This is when trains will reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. That requires a long stretch of empty track so that the train can reach its capacity speed.
No stone is left unturned. Everything from brakes, to high speeds, to how trains enter and exit platforms are all checked off the list before passengers can board the newest trains in the Valley Metro fleet.