BART announces plans for rail car assembly site in Bay Area

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BART joined Bombardier Transportation, the manufacturer of its “Fleet of the Future” railway cars, for a Friday press conference to announce the upcoming implementation of a new railway car assembly site in Pittsburg, California, which will reduce the shipping distance for BART’s rail cars by more than 3,000 miles.

“Final assembly of new BART cars has been taking place at Bombardier’s facility in upstate New York. Once trains are ready for shipping, they … get shipped to BART’s Hayward Test Track,” said BART spokesperson Christopher Filippi in an email. “Having a facility in the Bay Area will dramatically reduce the length of time it takes for new cars to arrive on BART property.”

Bombardier decided to build a new site because the company needed to clear up assembly space at the New York plant for new railway car orders from East Coast transit systems, according to Bombardier spokesperson Maryanne Roberts.

BART’s decision to include Fleet of the Future cars on its railways dates back to 2012, when BART signed a $1.5 billion contract with Bombardier to replace BART’s outdated railway cars. BART chose Bombardier to build the cars because, according to BART spokesperson Jim Allison in a previous interview with The Daily Californian, it offered “the most reliable and safe (vehicles), as well as the cheapest.”

Since then, multiple transportation commissions have contributed more than $2.6 billion in funds to upgrade BART’s railway cars, according to a January 2018 press release from the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Among the contributors is the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which invested in these cars in support of the Statewide Rail Modernization program. The program plans to connect BART to a high-speed rail system that will connect public transportation railways from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

According to Filippi, BART now has 84 Fleet of the Future cars running on its railway lines. A Friday press release from BART detailed that BART has received continual positive feedback from Fleet of the Future riders and that the organization is “thrilled” to welcome Bombardier Transportation to the area.

Another benefit of the new site, according to Filippi, is its potential to increase job opportunities for workers in the Bay Area and to “contribute tax dollars to the local economy.” The new site will hire local workers over the summer and is anticipated to start production in September. The first rail car order will be for 775 railway cars, according to Roberts.

A manufacturer for multiple transit agencies and airports in the United States, Bombardier Transportation hopes to also use the new assembly site to expand its services to more agencies on the West Coast.

“The site in Pittsburg will enable us to pursue additional business opportunities in the growing rail transit equipment market on the West Coast and to serve this market with increased effectiveness,” Roberts said in an email.

Contact Selena Liu at [email protected].