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Bolt from the green

01 Apr 2002

MARCH 15 saw the opening of a 375m light rail line in Los Angeles, linking the Farmers Market tourist complex and a new outdoor retail and entertainment centre dubbed The Grove. The 'environmentally-friendly transit system' is worked by a double-deck, open-top tram carrying up to 62 passengers at a top speed of 8 km/h.

Built by theatrical animation supplier Production Resource Group (which has no previous transport experience), the car is painted green, with red oak running boards, custom-cast brass handrails and fittings, and quarter-turn stairs. It rides on two Clark B2 bogies from retired Boston MBTA PCCs, acquired from the Seashore Trolley Museum.

The car is powered by 52 gell-cell 12V batteries wired in series to provide 312V to the two traction motors. To permit continuous running for at least 13h a day, the batteries need regular recharging. An induction loop was installed in the trackbed at one end of the line. As the passengers alight, a crew member pushes the 'charge initiate' button and the system induces a 30 kW charge for 3min, delivering about 2Ah. A second sequence can be triggered if required. The batteries are also charged conventionally every night to keep them in good condition.