THE SOUTHERN California Regional Rail Authority board voted on February 24 to order new double-deck push-pull rolling stock from Rotem for the Los Angeles Metrolink commuter rail network.

The base order covers 33 driving cab cars and 54 intermediate trailers at a price of $176m. Some are needed for expansion of services in Orange County to replace a light rail project. The board also voted to exercise two options, adding a further 20 cab cars worth $35·6m. Options covering 10 cab cars and 14 trailers for Tri-Rail in Miami would bring the total value for Rotem to $306m, compared with bids of $388·8m from Bombardier and $556·5m from Kawasaki.

The vehicles will be the first in the USA to incorporate 'crash energy management technology' to reduce casualties and damage in the event of a collision. A push-back coupler will absorb collision energy, and there will be a 'controlled crush space' made of a honeycomb material. The cab cars will have built-in shock absorbers and all seats will be rear-facing. A new table design is intended to reduce the risk of injury to passengers thrown about in the event of a sudden stop.

Rotem has committed to deliver the first trailer in December 2008 and the first cab car in February 2009. Bodyshells will be built in South Korea, with final assembly at a leased facility in Philadelphia.