April 13, 2010
By Anthony Campisi
All aboard the new SEPTA regional railcars.
The public got its first look at SEPTA’s Silverliner Vs on Tuesday, as three of them were put on display at Suburban Station from April 13 through April 15.
Members of the public can check them out on Track 0 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day.
The three cars represent the first installment of the 120 ordered from Hyundai Rotem, a consortium of Hyundai and Sojitz Corp. that is building the cars in South Korea and South Philadelphia.
The 85-foot cars will seat up to 109 riders each, and SEPTA general manager Joe Casey said they should be able to handle the authority’s growing ridership needs for the foreseeable future.
They will be replacing 73 Silverliner II and III cars, which are 47 and 43 years old, respectively.
Both Min Ho-Lee, president and CEO of Hyundai Rotem, and Shinichi Uchiyama, senior vice president of the Sojitz Corp., stressed the role of local labor and supply companies in constructing the cars at a press conference accompanying the unveiling.
“Your family members … are likely a key part of this project,” Ho-Lee said.
Unlike current SEPTA rolling stock, the Silverliner Vs are designed to function and look more like subway cars, with no vestibules separating passengers from outside doors, a design change that will allow faster boarding and exiting.
Also, the current Silver cabs (where the engineer drives the train) take up the entire front width of the train car. The Silver V engineer’s compartment only takes up the right half front of the car and there are passenger seats in the left front of the car. Engineers can rope off the front seats to create a full cab, and the cars can be retrofitted to take the seats out permanently and extend the cab in the future if there’s a new federal regulation regarding this design change.
Television display screens will also show each train’s stops and be able to show messages. (For the demonstration, they were showing South Korean commercials.)
The placards on the outside of trains showing destinations have also been jettisoned in favor of LED displays.
SEPTA’s Casey said about half of the cars have been delivered to the South Philadelphia plant for final assembly and testing and that the first cars should be taking passengers in the fall.
Transit advocates, some of whom had been skeptical of the construction, seemed pleased with the cars.
Matt Mitchell of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers, who had criticized an early Silverliner V mock-up as shoddy, said that the cars appeared sturdy and well-built.
And Bob Clearfield, speaking for the Citizen Advisory Committee, said the group was “delighted” by the look and comfort of the vehicles.
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