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Light Rail Vehicles

CATS sought public input into the design of Charlotte's first light rail vehicle (LRV).  Over 14,000 Charlotteans voted for the aerodynamic and modern body style through surveys in the Charlotte Observer and on CATS' website.  The design and color scheme shown in the photo below were chosen by CATS employees.

Vehicle Characteristics:

  • 92 feet long
  • 55 mph top speed
  • 68 seats
  • 236 total capacity
  • level boarding
  • 100% accessible as defined by ADA
  • 4 wheelchair-designated areas
  • 4 bike racks
LRV

Charlotte's first light rail vehicle arrives for the LYNX Blue Line

 

Charlotte's first light rail vehicle for the LYNX Blue Line undergoes testing

 

Siemens Transportation Systems is building the vehicles in Sacramento, CA.  The company provided the first 70% low-floor light rail vehicles in the U.S. (Portland – 1998).  Currently, Siemens has LRVs in several cities including Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, Denver, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Houston.

Have you seen the train coming yet?  Charlotte will be receiving 16 light rail vehicles for the LYNX Blue Line.  As the vehicles arrive, thorough testing of each train begins.  Each vehicle is required to go through 1000 miles to testing before being available for public use.  Vehicles are currently being tested between Tremont Avenue and Clanton Road on the South Corridor.

 

 

What is light rail?

As the Charlotte region has considered opportunities to improve the transit system, light rail and commuter rail have both been mentioned. The two are not the same and the differences are often misunderstood.  Some facts about light rail:

  • Light rail transit consists of passenger vehicles propelled by electric motors, with steel wheels rolling along steel rails.
  • Propulsion power is drawn from an overhead electric distribution wire.
  • The tracks and vehicles are capable of sharing the streets with rubber-tired vehicular traffic (i.e., cars, buses)
  • Vehicles can negotiate sharp curves in order to go over city streets.

So what are the differences? For starters, while light rail vehicles are powered with electricity, commuter rail systems are typically powered by diesel engines.  The electric-powered system is quieter and often considered more environmentally friendly. Also, light rail vehicles are able to accelerate and decelerate quickly, which allows for more stops along a corridor.  For this reason, light rail is well matched to the South and Northeast Corridors. 

Back to Main South Corridor Page

Back to Main Northeast Corridor Page

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