Add us to your taskbar by dragging this icon RGI logo to the bottom of your screen.


Subway contract won with help from Brazil

01 Jan 2003

Alstom signed a contract on October 31 to supply MTA New York CityTransit with 660 cars to the R160 design. Options could add another 1040 cars


HIDDEN AWAY in a siding behind Alstom's Lapa works in São Paulo is a giant relic of the past. The distinctive shape identifies it as one of a series of 2-C+C-2 electric locomotives bought by the former Paulista Railway for hauling passenger trains in the 1940s. Although in working order, the loco is stored out of use as the 3 kV DC main line electrification in São Paulo state was abandoned by the present operator Ferroban. The loco was built by General Electric and Westinghouse in the USA in 1946, but in the intervening half century trade patterns have changed - now Brazil is exporting rail vehicles to the USA.

Visitors to Alstom's Lapa production lines will find that they are crammed with the bodyshells of Comet V cars destined for New Jersey Transit's commuter services. Lapa has previously supplied shells for California's Pacific Surfliners, and soon the shop-floor staff will be turning their attention to an order for hundreds of R160 shells for MTA New York City Transit. It was thanks to low labour and production costs in Brazil that Alstom was chosen on July 29 2002 as the supplier of 660 cars for NYCT. The US$961m contract was signed on October 31.

Unusually, the deal sees Alstom working with Kawasaki Rail Car Inc, with the Japanese supplier taking around 40% of the contract value. Kawasaki's involvement in New York began in 1989 with the award of a contract for a prototype R110 set under the New Technology Test Train Program. In due course the company won a share of the contract to supply the R142 fleet, with a build of 400 cars, subsequently increased by an option for a further 120.

The R142 contract was shared with Bombardier, which built 680 cars, plus an option for 350 more. All cars in the R142 fleet are powered by Alstom's Onix traction package. Kawasaki later took the initial contract for 100 R143 cars with an option for 112 more, but these are fitted with Bombardier traction equipment.

According to Stephan Rambaud-Measson, Alstom's Senior Vice-President, Rolling Stock Americas, NYCT's decision to place the R160 contract with Alstom was based primarily on the company's low bid price, which was within 3% of the other offers. A technical evaluation ranked Alstom second behind Kawasaki. Discussions eventually led to a suggestion from NYCT that Alstom should work with Kawasaki for the R160 contract, and this proved to be the winning formula.

As the R160 is closely based on the R143, Alstom was 'not working with a blank sheet but starting with well-proven, reliable technology', according to Rambaud-Measson. The R143 was required to run 160000 km between faults causing a train to be taken out of service, but in practice the units are achieving twice that. So Alstom had won a low-risk contract.

Joint venture

Alstom and Kawaski have set up a joint venture known as Alskaw to manage the contract. Alstom is supplying the project manager, and Kawasaki is providing systems engineering, although Alstom takes the ultimate responsibility. A joint sourcing team is being set up with a single specification for components such as doors, brakes and air-conditioning.

Alstom is to supply 400 cars and Kawasaki 260. All traction equipment will come from Alstom, again using the Onix package with IGBT naturally-cooled inverters accepting input at 600V DC. All bogies are to be built by Kawasaki, and in contrast to the R142 fleet where only 70% of cars are powered, the R160 cars will all be motored.

The Alstom AC traction motors with a nominal rating of 110 kW on both fleets are identical, but different mounting brackets are required for the R160 to suit the Japanese bogie. The Alstom units will be delivered as both four-car and five-car formations, with Kawasaki supplying only five-car formations.

In line with New York's decision to adopt transmission-based train control, the R160 fleet will be designed for the subsequent installation of the equipment. The fleet is intended to replace NYCT's R32, R38, R40 and R42 cars.

The contract requires completion of 20 cars within 33 months of signature, two sets from Alstom, and two from Kawasaki. There will then be a nine-month period for testing, including EMC issues, braking, acceleration and compatibility with other cars.

After the test phase, NYCT plans a further three months of shadow running before series delivery begins. Final delivery of the cars ordered under the base contract will be in 2007. Should the options for between 1 000 and 1 040 more cars be exercised in 2005-06 as envisaged, production will run until 2010.

Alstom's ability to offer a lower price than its competitors hinged on its ability to source the bodyshells from Lapa. Final assembly will be at the company's Hornell plant in New York state, the same formula that is currently being used for the 265-strong fleet of Comet V push-pull cars for New Jersey Transit. This contract will be finished in July 2003.

Kawasaki will fabricate its R160 bodyshells at its plant in Lincoln, Nebraska, and fit them out in Yonkers, New York state. The agreement with Alstom includes a technology transfer element providing for Kawasaki's stainless steel bodyshell construction expertise to be used in sidewall fabrication at Lapa. Despite low labour costs, the sidewall production will be largely automated using robot techniques; Alstom says this is 'more a question of aesthetics and customer satisfaction as the requirement is for perfectly flat faces'.

Alstom is going to some trouble to reorganise its American business to integrate production at Lapa and Hornell, with common management of joint projects. Both plants are receiving investment, with US$7·2m already spent in the US plant and US$9m earmarked for Lapa.

Hornell is designed to be able to turn out 85 finished cars a month, and the plant has a multi-voltage test track, climate chamber and water test facility. Long-term plans envisage that further capacity will be added to allow production to reach 115 cars/month.


  • CAPTION: A prototype stainless steel bodyshell sidewall panel was completed at Lapa for a visit by New York City Transit officials last year
  • CAPTION: The R160 follows the pattern of earlier builds of subway car for New York. Slight changes are possible before the design is finalised
  • CAPTION: A completed New Jersey Transit Comet V shell at Lapa is prepared for shipment to Hornell in the USA, where a cab control car nears completion (right)
  • CAPTION: Also under construction at Lapa are bodyshells for the Fortaleza metro in Brazil's Cear? state (MR 02 p38)
  • CAPTION: Alstom has delivered two metro trainsets to Metrovías in Buenos Aires, but further deliveries await resolution of a dispute over payment. The São Paulo plant is also refurbishing suburban trainsets for local suburban operator CPTM (left)

Le contrat du métro remporté avec l'aide du Brésil

Le 31 octobre, Alstom a signé un contrat de 961 millions de dollars US pour la fourniture de 660 voitures de type R160 au New York City Transit, plus des options allant jusqu'à 1040 véhicules supplémentaires, ce qui porterait alors le total de la commande à plus de 2·4 milliards de dollars. La société française a remporté le marché en juillet 2002, après quoi elle a monté une joint venture avec Kawasaki pour mener à bien ce contrat. Alstom a été en mesure d'emporter le contrat grâce au coût plus bas de la construction des caisses nues dans son usine de Lapa, à São Paulo

U-Bahn-Auftrag gewonnen mit brasilianischer Hilfe

Alstom unterzeichnete am 31 Oktober einen Vertrag über 961 Millionen US-Dollar zur Lieferung von 660 Wagen des R160-Typs, sowie Optionen für bis zu 1040 weitere Fahrzeuge, welche den Vertragswert auf über 2·4 Milliarden Dollar steigern würden. Die franz?€?sische Unternehmung wurde im Juli 2002 als Anbieter ausgewählt, und sie ist daraufhin ein Joint-Venture mit Kawasaki eingegangen, um das Auftragsvolumen zu bewältigen. Alstom gewann den Auftrag dank kostengünstiger Fertigung der Wagenkasten in ihrem Werk Lapa in São Paulo

Contrato para metro ganado con la ayuda de Brasil

Alstom firmó un contrato de 961 millones de dólares el 31 de Octubre para suministrar a New York City Transit con 660 coches del diseño R160, adem? s de opciones de hasta 1040 coches m? s que podrían llegar a un valor de hasta 2400 millones de dólares. Esta empresa francesa fue elegida como contratista en Julio de 2002, mes tras el cual estableció una joint venture con Kawasaki para gestionar el contrato. Alstom pudo ganar el contrato gracias a la construcción económica de cajas en su planta de Lapa (São Paulo)