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Rail News: Mechanical

BART's 'Fleet of the Future' to launch service in September

BART's new 'Fleet of the Future' cars
Photo – Bay Area Rapid Transit

Bay Area Rapid Transit's (BART) 'Fleet of the Future' rail cars are scheduled to begin carrying passengers in late September.

Since November 2016, the agency's 10 pilot cars have completed 42 weeks of testing on the main tracks during non-business hours. That was preceded by months of runs along test tracks at BART's Hayward Maintenance Facility beginning in April 2016.

Last week, BART began testing the first batch of new rail cars on mainline tracks during business hours.

In total, the pilot cars have undergone more than 50,000 miles of qualification testing, agency officials said in a press release. There are 391 tests in all.

BART is doing more on-site testing than other transit agencies would because its tracks are wider than the standard, said Assistant General Manager for Operations Paul Oversier.

"Transit agencies with standard width tracks do a lot of testing at the factory before new cars are shipped out," Oversier said. "We don’t have that option so we are putting our cars through the paces in the same environment in which they need to perform. In that sense, it’s an advantage."

BART's track gauge is 5 feet 6 inches versus the U.S. standard of 4 feet 8.5 inches.

The tests have prompted the agency and the rail cars' manufacturer Bombardier Transportation to make more than 3,000 modifications — most of them software related. Each car has 30 microprocessors and 180 distinct software packages.


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