Valley Metro has welcomed in three new Siemens light rail trains this year from their northern California manufacturing plant. However, the process of getting them to the Operations and Maintenance Center (OMC) has looked a little different in recent months. The OMC is where trains are stored, maintained and cleaned.
Due to construction at the OMC, the usual process of delivering new trains directly to the designated track in the yard isn’t an option. The last two trains have been dropped off onto the light rail tracks near the 50th St/Washington platform. The unusual method of unloading the trains took some extra thought and planning.
According to Rob Rosenberg, Superintendent for LRV Maintenance, there were plenty of criteria that needed to be met to find somewhere along Valley Metro’s track to properly and securely place a train directly on the track.
The first step was having the company that delivers the trains perform an inspection to determine whether the idea was feasible. Next up, it was all about finding that perfect spot. The three main points of emphasis required for that perfect spot was finding a long straight piece of track, a location that would cause minimum interruption to vehicle traffic and an area of track that was level.
That spot ended up being at the intersection of 51st St/Washington. To avoid both interrupting street traffic and light rail traffic, it was determined that the best time to perform the maneuver was between 2 a.m. to 3:30 a.m.
The first delivery took place on July 18. The train was secured to about a 100-foot long trailer that was backed up on the eastbound track. Once it was in position, the truck pulled out, leaving the train attached to a hydraulic trailer to handle the rest of the job. The train was lowered until its own weight brought it onto the tracks.
It was then connected to another train and moved to the storage tracks. The first process took over an hour, but with the previous experience under their belts, the crews were able to complete the second train in just about 45 minutes. Rosenberg expects the next process to go even faster.
Seven more light rail trains are expected to be delivered using this method for unloading and moving to the storage tracks at the OMC. Once they complete rigorous testing, they will be added to the Valley Metro light rail fleet.