M-1 Rail reveals streetcar design team

The company responsible for designing and building streetcars in Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. has been selected to design and build the M-1 Rail streetcars in Detroit. The Czech Republic-based company Inekon Group has been awarded the approximately $30 million contract.

According to M-1 Rail officials, even though the design team behind the Detroit streetcars is from the Czech Republic, the project continues to comply with a federal Buy America initiative. The program stipulates that the M-1 Rail must be built with American-made products.

"We want to assure that materials, parts, labor, manufacturing processes, and final assembly will meet the Buy America requirements," says M-1 Rail chief operating officer Paul Childs. "It’s too early to talk about any sourcing or potential manufacturing locations, but we are committed to the principles of Buy America’s support of U.S.-based suppliers and the families who work for them."

While visuals of the vehicles' design are not yet available, M-1 Rail has released some streetcar specs. Future riders can expect streetcars that are 73 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, 13 feet high, and weigh 76,000 pounds. The cars utilize lithium-ion batteries, allowing to them to run "off-wire" 60 percent of the time. This will limit the amount of overhead wires along Woodward Avenue used to power the streetcars.

The double-ended and double-sided streetcars will be driven by operators at the same speed as automobile and bus traffic. They will be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant, built low to the ground for ease of access for mobility assist devices like wheelchairs. The streetcars will feature WiFi Internet, bike racks, and an HVAC system capable of handling Michigan seasons.

While no dates were given as to when the public will be able to see the final streetcar design, M-1 Rail officials say they are on track to be up and running in 2016.

Source: M-1 Rail press release
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.

Related Company