DEFENCE contractor Oregon Iron Works is planning to build under licence trams similar to the Czech-made Astra vehicles in operation in Portland and Tacoma.

Based in the Portland suburb of Clackamas, Oregon Iron Works has established a partnership with the Inekon Group, which manufactures the Astra in the Czech Republic. The project was included in the $286·4bn, six-year TEA-LU federal transportation bill by Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio, making it eligible for an annual grant of $1m from 2006 to 2009, to be administered by TriMet.

The first vehicle will be assembled in the company’s existing facilities, with a new plant to be erected if enough orders are received. The prototype will be built under licence from Inekon and given to Portland Streetcar as a demonstrator.