ON JANUARY 26 Oregon Iron Works announced a $4m contract to produce a prototype modern low-floor light rail vehicle for the North American market at its Clackamas plant in the USA. United Streetcar LLC has been established as an OIW subsidiary to produce the vehicle, which will be based on the seven Astra 10T LRVs which were supplied to Portland by a now dissolved joint venture of Skoda and Inekon in 2001-03. As well as being fully compatible with the existing cars, the four-axle, double-ended low-floor tram will meet Buy America requirements. OIW and Skoda Transportation formed a partnership in August 2005, and this was followed with the signing of an exclusive technology transfer agreement in February 2006, allowing the US firm to produce components under licence for use with Czech-made traction equipment. Last October OIW and Skoda Transportation submitted their successful proposal to the City of Portland for the manufacture of a prototype, and a formal Notice to Award Contract was issued on January 9 2007. Politicians in Oregon and Washington secured a special congressional authorisation of $4m for the project. ’We believe there are 80 cities interested in streetcar systems’, said Oregon congressman Peter DeFazio. ’The resurgence of streetcars throughout the United States will play an increasing role in urban transit.’ H The city of Sofia is to sell the Tramcar EAD repair and assembly business of municipal tram operator SKGT, which is expected to raise around k10m. The buyer will take over a February 2006 agreement with Inekon for the modernisation of 18 Sofia trams the first will be completed in the Czech Republic and the rest in the Bulgarian capital at a cost of k13?3m. n