Portland — Feds Fund Streetcar Development
Rail Transit Online, April 2010
A $2.4-million research grant has been awarded to TriMet by the Federal Transit Administration for development of a domestically-manufactured streetcar propulsion system. TriMet has contracted Oregon Iron Works Inc. subsidiary United
Streetcar LLC to carry out the $3-million project; the remaining $600,000 will come from a local match.
United is the only U.S. company producing streetcars and last year it rolled out a prototype based on a design from the
Czech Republic, which should have been in revenue service on the Portland system by now. Instead, it has languished in a carbarn because the propulsion system has proven unreliable, and Czech supplier Skoda Electric S.A. has been unwilling or unable to make repairs.
United will now install and test a unit made by Rockwell Automation that will also have the capability of moving the car for a
short distance if the traction power supply is interrupted. Once the Rockwell equipment is put in, the streetcar will have 90-percent domestic components.
Still to be decided is whether the six
cars on order from United for an extension
of the Portland Streetcar should wait for the Rockwell system to be ready, or if propulsion equipment from the Austrian firm Elin should be selected. Elin furnished electrical apparatus for the 10 Czech cars already running in Portland.