USA: The City of Seattle has selected Czech firm Inekon and its local assembly partner Pacifica Marine to supply six cars for a short tram line planned to connect First Hill with the future Capitol Hill light rail stop and the Chinatown/International District. The Inekon-Pacifica partnership was one of three bidders and will maintain the cars for five years.
The 3·2 km route is planned to open in late 2013. It replaces a plan for a light rail stop at First Hill which was dropped because of engineering, geological and construction risks.
The line will be double track, but overhead electrification will only be installed on the track towards First Hill. The return trip will powered by batteries, which as well as reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs will avoid interfering with trolleybus wires.
Inekon has previously supplied six trams to Seattle and has also won orders in Portland and Washington DC. Those were delivered fully built, but the Seattle cars must comply with Buy America regulations requiring 60% domestic content and US assembly.