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A Global Solution To Regional Mass Transit
As gasoline prices still fluctuate, regional mass transit systems look better and better as an alternative to non-public automobiles for daily commuting. But, as these systems expand to satisfy the growing demand, they often run into an increasingly common dilemma.
Much of the simplest technology available today is from Europe and Asia, but most regional systems are government entities that have got to observe "Buy American" mandates when upgrading their infrastructure. Fortunately, reconciling the 2 demands doesn't always require settling for a less-than-optimal solution.
Chicago's Metra commuter rail may be a case in point. Metra serves 500 miles of track and 230 stations in six counties. As a part of an idea to upgrade both efficiency and customer satisfaction levels, Metra is replacing aging passenger cars with new Highliner cars, featuring the newest mass-transit technology from around the world.
The cars are being built by a Japanese company, Nippon Sharyo, and powered by Toshiba traction motors, but the ultimate drives-a key high-value component-will be supplied by Voith Turbo of York, Pa. the ultimate drives are going to be assembled and tested in Pennsylvania using gear wheels, bearings, seals, and kit couplings from qualified U.S. suppliers.
"These units will help Nippon meet the 60 percent American content requirement for the new cars with no sacrifice in either quality or technology," said Voith sales engineer Michael Klug.
The drives feature a complicated design that helps prevent oil leakage, making the new cars more environmentally friendly than those they replace. they're also compact and robust, which contributes to rider comfort by increasing the car's reliability and operational efficiency by reducing maintenance requirements.
The first 16 Highliner cars went into service with Metra already. Voith will deliver a complete of 116 final drives over the lifetime of the program.