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M-1 Rail selects Czech-based Inekon Group to build Detroit's streetcars


M-1 Rail announced on Monday that it has selected Inekon Group to design and build six rail cars for Detroit's streetcar project for about $30 million.

Agency officials will now begin negotiating the final terms and conditions with Czech Republic-based Inekon, M-1 officials said in a press release.

"Inekon has a strong track record with other streetcar projects in Portland, Seattle and Washington, D.C., and owns a 40 percent share of U.S.-installed projects," said M-1 Rail Chief Operating Officer Paul Childs.

The streetcars' materials, parts, labor, manufacturing processes and final assembly will meet federal Buy America requirements, he said. A final assembly location has yet to be selected, but southeast Michigan locations are under consideration, Childs added.

Each streetcar will be 73 feet long, 8.5 feet wide and 13 feet high, and weigh about 76,000 pounds. The cars will be operator-driven and powered by lithium-ion battery packs, enabling the entire line to run "60 percent off-wire," said Childs.

"Other streetcar projects utilize overhead wiring for everything from vehicle propulsion to the infrastructure of their maintenance and repair sites. M-1 Rail will minimize its impact on the aesthetics of Detroit's iconic Woodward Avenue, and we also will not have the labyrinth of wires overhead at the Penske Technical Center," he said.

Other design-build elements include regenerative braking; the ability to travel in the same lane at the same speed as bus and vehicle traffic; 100 percent low-floor; and doors in three locations on each car.

The choice of Inekon combined with the recently announced contract for the future Penske Technical Center will complete the design, engineering and construction requirements for the streetcar project, M-1 Rail officials said. 

"Among our next significant activities will be to develop requirements and solicit proposals for the system operator, which will eventually run the entire line," Childs said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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