Monday, July 20, 2015

Charlotte streetcar technology: 1915 vs. 2015

Charlotte's streetcars started July 14, 2015, 77 years since last running in 1938, and 2015's first streetcar/car crash occurred on July 18 - why?

That question's still up in the air with safety investigators, etc., but another question arising from this considers 1915 technology vs. 2015 technology.

Charlotte is currently running three Gomaco replica trolleys (leftover from South End Trolley days) which seem to have modern systems, at least based on a glance of the manufacturer's website.  The image below is a spec sheet on Charlotte's current Gomaco vehicles.

Still, the long-term plan is to run modern streetcar vehicles, which one assumes would have better braking/safety technology.  Siemens S70 rail vehicles have the ability to run on LRT tracks and be linked up for multiple-car sets (spec sheet images below).  Would these S70s, based on 2015 technology, perhaps be safer and more reliable than 1900s replica streetcars?  If the answer is ultimately "yes," then let's keep the nostalgia in a streetcar museum and the meaningful, safe, and modern transportation on the street.

Atlanta's new streetcar is running S70s which experienced crashes as well in May 2015, albeit with admitted human error, not technical issues.

Driver error aside (both streetcar operator and parked vehicle in the Atlanta example), costs are the ultimate constraint on transit operators like CATS.  Gomaco replica trolleys were estimated at $1 million or less/each in 2007, while Siemens S70s run around $4 million/each.

Would a $12 million investment in three modern streetcars to replace the Gomacos be worth it for transportation safety and reliability?  That's a question that may come up if crashes keep occurring.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting development
    We hope to see these soon in Africa