The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has confirmed Alstom as the supplier of 130 new low-floor LRVs as part of the agency’s biggest trolley modernisation programme in decades. 
The new 24.3m five-section cars will replace the authority’s fleet of high-floor bogie trams, delivered by Kawasaki in the early 1980s, from late 2027. Each will have 44 seats and a total passenger capacity of 120, including dedicated multi-purpose areas for wheelchair users, bicycles and pushchairs. 
The new fully-accessible cars will be built at Alstom’s factory in Hornell, NY, under a base contract worth USD714.2m. Options for a further 30 LRVs could take the total value to almost USD863m. Deliveries are to conclude in 2030. 
The long-awaited rolling stock order is part of SEPTA’s USD2bn project to modernise its eight trolley (light rail) lines which serve the city of Philadelphia and its western, northern and south-western suburbs, as well as parts of Delaware County. 
In a related programme, the authority is planning to spend USD800m to rebuild stops on its networks to facilitate level boarding with the new vehicles, as well as replacing tracks and overhead as the new Alstom vehicles will use pantographs for current collection rather than the trolley poles on the Kawasaki cars. 
A single-ended version of the Kawasaki LRV is currently used on five subway-surface lines that serve West Philadelphia, while double-ended cars are used on the two former Red Arrow lines to Media and Sharon Hills. 
SEPTA is also negotiating the acquisition of an industrial unit in south Philadelphia to be rebuilt as a workshop to maintain the new stock. 
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity right now with the federal funding levels available,” Jody Holton, SEPTA’s Chief Planning and Strategy Officer, explained. “We’re moving ahead and we expect that the state and region will continue to support these projects with additional funds.” 
Philadelphia’s light rail modernisation programme is part of the wider USD11.4bn SEPTA Forward programme, representing the largest-ever investment in the region’s transit. 
> A comprehensive overview of SEPTA’s modernisation programme featured in TAUT 1021 (January 2023). Contact us to get your copy. 
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