Detroit orders new streetcars from Brookville

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

Under a contract valued at $32 million, Brookville Equipment Corp. will supply six of its Liberty Modern Streetcars for Detroit’s new Woodward Avenue line, which is being built by M-1 RAIL, a public-private venture claimed to be “the first major transit project led and funded through collaboration between private businesses and philanthropic organizations working in partnership.”

M-1 RAIL and Brookville agreed to terms on Friday, June 5, 2015 for  supply of the articulated vehicles for the 3.3-mile line. Delivery is to begin in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Brookville’s Liberty Modern Streetcar is “off-wire capable” in that it can operate without an overhead catenary system for limited distances, drawing power from an onboard energy storage system (OESS) that utilizes 750-volt rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. For M1 RAIL, these streetcars will operate off-wire on 60% of the line. In addition, they will access their vehicle maintenance facility of-wire via a one-tenth-mile access track. The streetcars measure 66.5 feet in length and are just over 70% low-floor, with seating for up to 32 passengers and a full load factor of 125 passengers. Running on standard-gauge track, the vehicles utilize Brookville’s Soft-Ride trucks and are powered by four 99kW AC traction motors. Maximum speed is 35 mph.

M-1 RAIL is a 6.6-track-mile, 12-stop loop on Woodward Avenue that connects business, shopping, entertainment and dining centers from Campus Martius Park downtown through Midtown to Grand Blvd in Detroit’s New Center and North End neighborhoods. The system provides access to the Detroit Amtrak Station, Wayne State University, Comerica Park, Ford Field and several theaters, among other attractions, while also integrating with the Downtown People Mover and bus system.

This is Brookville’s second order for its Liberty Modern Streetcars, following two vehicles for DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) earlier this year. DART’s vehicles operate on the 1.6-mile Downtown-to-Oak Cliff line, traveling one mile off-wire while crossing the Houston Street Viaduct. M-1 RAIL’s vehicles have a wider loading gauge than DART’s, with an 8-foot, 8-inch-wide carbody, compared to 8 feet for the Dallas vehicles.

“Selection of Brookville provides M-1 RAIL with a company that has experience constructing streetcars that best meet this project’s technological requirements and timeline,” said M-1 RAIL Chief Operating Officer Paul Childs. “We are pleased to reach agreement with Brookville, a streetcar manufacturer that specializes in advanced off-wire technology that will make our system a leader in this technology.”

“We are eager to work in partnership with M-1 RAIL to deliver an innovative, service-proven, world-class, American-designed streetcar fleet to the City of Detroit,” said Brookville Vice President of Business Development Joel McNeil. “With off-wire capabilities, low-floor design compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and a sleek design, we are confident these vehicles will integrate seamlessly into the city’s existing infrastructure to improve accessibility to major attractions and other local transit systems for residents and visitors in one of America’s most iconic cities.”

The M-1 RAIL project is involves local government, the State of Michigan and the U.S. Department of Transportation. In 2014, the project received a $12.2 million USDOT Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant.

Headquartered in Brookville, Pa., Brookville Equipment Corp. is a U.S. manufacturer of powered transportation vehicles for the mining/tunneling, rail freight and rail passenger industries. In 2001, Brookville began manufacturing modern streetcars and has also modernized, manufactured and remanufactured PCC and heritage streetcars and trolleys for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA), the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). The Liberty Modern Streetcar with off-wire capability was introduced in 2012.

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