On Thursday morning, Sound Transit took delivery of the 27th and final light rail vehicle (LRV) purchased for the University Link project. LRV #162 rolled off an oversized flatbed truck on to the tracks of the Link Light Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) to couple with LRV #101, the first LRV, which took it inside the maintenance building. The Kinkisharyo LRVs were assembled in Mukilteo and trucked down to the OMF at night. The 27 new vehicles were delivered over the course of 7 months. The newly delivered LRV must go through a “burn in” process involving tests and running for 1,000 miles at night before they can carry any passengers. Many of the new LRVs, numbered 136 and above, are already in service. The Central Link fleet now totals 62 LRVs.

More photos of the event on Flickr.

24 Replies to “Final U-Link LRV Delivered”

  1. The Kinkisharyo LRVs were assembled in Mukilteo and trucked down to the OMF

    Would they be to tall to have loaded on a flatcar and brought in on rail or is it just cheaper to use trucks? Tell me again why you buy something 5 years in advance and start making interest payments before you need it? 1000 miles is 35 round trips on the existing track. You can do that in 2 weeks just running 4 trips (2 hrs)a night.

    1. Good question. Thanks for asking. We saved about $10M on these last 27 vehicles by picking up an option for Kinkisharyo to manufacture them after they finished the first 35 for Central Link. The savings mostly comes from not having to go through the systems design process again with a new manufacturer.

      Bruce Gray
      ST Spokesman

      1. OK, so how much interest gets paid out over five years. I’m only counting half the purchase price since you can’t get squat for money in the bank right now (although you could pay of existing debt). I’m coming up with $12 million in interest at 5% on half of the purchase price assuming the project stays on schedule. Maybe five years from now the cars will be more expensive (maybe not). One would hope they will be improved. Why would you have to go to a new manufacturer? I doubt Kinkisharyo is going out of business and any other bidders would have to eat the NRE if they wanted to make a competitive bid. I know airplanes are a lot more expensive than rail cars but airlines lock in prices for delivery over time frames a lot longer than this on virtually every purchase.

      2. But there are also other benefits including parts commonality inbetween the two classes and until u-link opens with so many cars there will be less miles put on each car and less wear and tear on each car.

      3. A question though. How does having the extra cars affect the spare ratio reported to the feds? Since they are allocated for a future service do they count for central links spare ratio or?

      4. less wear and tear on each car.

        Still better to have brand new cars than an evenly worn out fleet. Keeping a larger number of cars running is more expensive, things age just from sitting, some maintenance based on the calendar rather than hours in service, logistics of storing, etc. The worst part is you have a huge capital expense when it comes time to replace them all at once like Metro is facing with the ETB fleet.

      5. “Still better to have brand new cars than an evenly worn out fleet.”

        Not according to Sound Transit. They ran the numbers and decided it was more cost-effective to put the new LRVs in to service early.

    2. having more LRVs also means that each individual one will be run less … which means that their overall MTBF will increase …

  2. It is easier to do it via truck instead of rail. It would have been a several day turn from it departing Mukilteo and it being delivered the OMF and several “jobs” for a train to deliver it to the OMF.

    An hour and some change journey via truck or 2-5 day travel via rail.

    A friend of mine – Ross Fotheringham, took a photo of the truck earlier in the year. Not sure if this will work for people though…


    1. That’s…. odd. Is the Mulkiteo site not rail-connected? Is the OMF not rail-connected? Or is it just that BNSF provides crummy service for short hauls?

      1. Trucks do the “last mile” better. Now, if you’re talking a hundred a week that you want moved to Chicago, BNSF is willing to listen. Freight rail want’s bulk. UPS does this by containerizing their loads.

  3. The number of LRVs limits the options for when U-Link and 200th open.

    It would make more sense to run four-car trains than shorter trains at that point, in order to maximize bus throughput in the DSTT. But the maximum frequency the trains could then run would be 9-10 minutes, unless more LRVs are ordered and delivered before then.

    Having every other train from UW turn back at Stadium Station would be a terrible option, as it would pretty much wipe out the ability to run buses in the DSTT.

    Is it not too late to spend some of the $80 million in leftover Central Link funds on more LRVs?

    1. It would also be possible to turn back trains at Rainier Beach.

      By the time U-Link opens, there will be additional LRV orders in the pipeline for North Link and East Link.

      1. Why would we want a turnback at Rainier Beach when the biggest destinations south of downtown are the airport and TIBS?

      2. More people entrain and detrain at the five stations between Beacon Hill and Rainier Beach than at TIB and Sea-Tac combined. Why would you turn back at Stadium? If there really is a problem with number of LRVs available, you could run shorter trains for the shorter trip to free up some cars.

        Of course, you would only want to run four car trains if you really needed the capacity.

      3. Barely, the station by station numbers show 5650 for RV + Beacon Hill and 5350 for TIB + SEA. The notion that half of Link ridership is from the RV is patently false; it’s actually less than a quarter.

        I think the idea of doubling back is based on the notion that because of the high demand between UW and DT there would be wasted capcity (empty trains) if the level of service warranted there is extended to the entire line. If true the thing to do is just add a special train that only shuttles between Montlake and DT.

    2. why do you say the number of LRV’s will limit the options for when U-Link and S 200th open?

      the whole point of the extra 27 LRVs was so that there would be enough … and we’re only talking about 3 extra stations on the line … and I don’t even think S 200th st will make any difference since it just means the trains won’t sit at the airport (they’ll just wait less time at S 200th (if they wait at all)

      now with the end of the RFA in downtown seattle … I can see your point about how longer, less frequent service would/could help with tunnel congestion (unless tunnel routes stay pay as you leave)

      1. The 62 LRVs will be enough for either of the two leading options: three-car trains serving the whole line or four-car trains with half turning back at Stadium Station. According to the ST guru I asked, it would not be enough to run four-car trains the whole length at 8-minute headways.

        It would take at least 15 trains to run 8-minute headway once 200th, Capitol Hill, and UW Station are open. Multiply by four and that’s 60 LRVs. Two is definitely not enough spares, and it isn’t certain 15 trains would be enough.

        I’m fine with 10-minute headway all day after U-Link opens, so long as it is a published schedule and people can memorize the schedule for their favorite stations. But I suspect I’m in the minority about that being sufficient headway.

    3. at that point why woild you have buses in the tunnel at all. I thought the idea was for the dstt to become link only when the u link line opened.

      1. If the frequency of having East Link and South Link in the DSTT pushes all buses out, then the turnback option is not likely to happen for short runs from Stadium Station to UW Station, since that frequency isn’t much less.

    1. if you are referring to our LRVs then no … but the show “How It’s Made” on Discovery Science did a segment on LRVs (I think they used Bombardier as an example (the show is Canadian))

  4. Hey, my American Flyer locomotives and passenger coaches still look good and work good even though they were built in the mid-50s. The 50s wiring is still good. Get over it. The light rail vehicles are bought and will work fine. Bitch about something else, please.

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