Siemens has emphasized a flexible approach to S70 deployment and development at least since 2011, when the company said its S70 template could handle various light rail transit or streetcar applications. Siemens S70 streetcars will appear late this year in Atlanta, while Salt Lake City's TRAX already sports LRV and streetcar versions of the model.
In addressing the needs of St. Paul, MetCouncil S70s include "using stainless steel components that won't rust because of road salt, more durable hydraulic hoses, and better heaters to keep couplers free of snow and ice," Siemens said.
The company also asserts the "cars represent the best of today's light rail technology: enhanced braking technology, better heating and cooling systems, video cameras replacing the operators' side mirrors, and added audio capability to the video surveillance cameras in each car."
Siemens says the Green Line cars, weighing 100,000 pounds, are "almost 6,000 pounds lighter than the older version of LRVs. Lighter cars translate into greater efficiency because they use less electricity (5%-to-6% energy savings over the life of the vehicle). They also boast improved insulation that will make the ride quieter, as well as warmer in the winter/cooler in the summer. HVAC units and heaters in the operator's cab run less and consume less electricity."
LED lighting has been used for both internal and external illumination, further reducing energy consumption, the company says.
Though the S70s make their official debut Saturday, testing of the units has been ongoing on the Green Line throughout 2014 to allow operators to become familiar with the equipment and route – and to allow local residents and businesses to adjust to the presence of light rail. Local media report that at least four incidents involving LRT and automobiles have occurred even before passenger service begins; no serious injuries have been reported.
The 11-mile Green Line, sometimes still called the Central Corridor line, will connect with the Metro Blue Line (Hiawatha Line) at the Downtown East Station in Minneapolis, and offer access to Northstar commuter rail service at the Target Field Station, also in Minneapolis.