PHOENIX light rail promoter Valley Metro Rail has selected Kinki Sharyo to supply 36 cars to operate the 32·3 km route at a cost of $115m. They will be 27·4m long, with partial low floors, and designed to operate in trains of up to three units.

The deal includes options for up to 39 additional LRVs and calls for deliveries to begin in summer 2006. The streamlined bodyshells will be manufactured in Japan but final assembly will take place in Arizona to meet the `Buy America’ requirements.

Known as ’Metro’, the line will run from northwest Phoenix past Sky Harbor International Airport and east to the adjoining communities of Tempe and Mesa. Ground-breaking is scheduled for ’late spring’ this year, with revenue service on the first section starting in December 2006. The final phase is due to open in August 2007.

Four days later Sound Transit officials recommended the purchase of 31 low-floor LRVs for the Central Link light rail network in Seattle from a joint venture of Kinki Sharyo and Mitsui. The $108·6m contract will include options for up to 31 more. The 28·95 m long bi-directional cars will be similar to those that Kinki Sharyo is building for San Jose, California; each will carry 74 seated and 126 standing passengers.

This contract requires the first LRV to be delivered by November 2006 and the last by September 2008. Final assembly will take place in the Puget Sound region. ST plans to open the $2·4bn line from Seattle to Tukwila in 2009, with two-car trains at 6min headways in the peak hours.