The contract with Twenty-First Century Rail Corp. will lengthen 25 Hudson-Bergen Light Rail vehicles and 10 Newark Light Rail vehicles, including spare parts, all produced by KinkiSharyo, which it says will “offer 50% more seating capacity than standard light rail vehicles.” The result will be a five-section, quadruple-articulated, partial low-floor car, which also will provide an increase in standing room as well as more seating capacity.
Though calling the move “innovative,” NJ Transit in essence is emulating an approach applied by Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) to 115 cars in DART’s LRV fleet, also originally produced by KinkiSharyo, beginning in 2008. NJT’s expanded LRVs will begin entering revenue service in late 2015.
“We’ve heard from customers through surveys conducted as part of NJ Transit’s Scorecard initiative that crowding on trains—particularly on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system—is one of their top concerns,” said NJT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim. HBLR weekday ridership averages more than 45,000.
NJT in July 2013 unveiled a prototype of the expanded light rail vehicle (photo, below) and launched a pilot program to test the vehicle by rotating it in service along the three segments of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system. At that time, NJT said that, compared to the existing units in operation on HBLR and Newark Light Rail by utilizing existing resources and spare equipment, the conversion was estimated to cost 75% less than purchasing new standard LRVs.
On Wednesday NJT noted it “partnered with Kinkisharyo International, LLC, the original vehicle manufacturer of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail’s existing fleet, and Twenty-First Century Rail Corp. to find an innovative, cost-effective solution that would not significantly impact the system’s infrastructure or require a costly investment in new railcars.”