The official LIRR request notes, "Base order cars, which will replace an equal number of M-3 vehicles, are funding in the 2010-2014 Capital Program."
LIRR's request also notes three bidders competed for the order, with technical and price comparisons resulting in Kawasaki being the "highest rated proposer with the lowest unit price and overall price."
The M-9s are expected to look similar to Metro-North's M-8 EMUs (shown above left). Kawasaki Rail Car still is delivering the last of roughly 430 M-8 electric multiple-unit (EMU) cars to Metro-North and the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Bombardier Transportation supplied M-7 cars to LIRR.
Though the initial order of M-9s will be used by LIRR, the design will include "reversible" third rail shoes to allow for potential future operations involving both LIRR and Metro-North. LIRR operates with overrunning third rail shoes, while Metro-North utilizes shoes running underneath the third rail. Both Metro-North and LIRR already have tested this concept with existing M-7 and M7A EMUs, one source says.
Other potential cross-railroad issues, including cab signaling variables, also would need to be addressed, numerous New York-area rail observers note.
MTA's original Request for Information, with a subsequent Request for Proposals in June 2012, indicated that the M-9s were not expected to be interoperable with LIRR's M-7 fleet, negating the likelihood of mixed consists.
Yonkers, N.Y.-based Kawasaki Rail Car is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Kawasaki Heavy Industries.