With the help of innovative rail technologies from Siemens, TriMet’s new Orange Line expands its MAX light rail service in a way that’s uniquely Portland.
S70 light rail vehicles customized to rider, operator, and technician feedback gathered by TriMet
Regenerative energy storage unit stores power generated from braking and uses it to power other vehicles
Signaling, gate crossing, and communication technologies to ensure efficient, safe operation
About the Project
With the Portland region expected to grow by an additional 400,000 residents in the next 20 years, TriMet must be forward thinking in everything it does. It needs to expand service intelligently to address population growth, while delivering a commute its riders can enjoy, day-in and day-out; and do it all as efficiently as possible.
In order to maximize ridership, the TriMet team needed a light rail vehicle that riders could embrace. The vehicles used for this service have to be safe, reliable, and comfortable to ride.
In addition to enhancing vehicle design, TriMet wanted to enhance its efficiency. For some time, the agency had been researching the concept of regenerative braking and energy storage, in which power given off from braking is stored and used to power trains. This too was included in the specifications knowing that, if successful, it would enhance TriMet’s sustainability and reduce its electricity costs.
Siemens was able to meet the requirements of TriMet and its ridership with innovative rail technologies, including customized S70 light rail vehicles, signaling and crossing technology, and a traction power system featuring one of the first regenerative energy storage units in the United States.
The new cars feature a seating layout that maximizes usable space and improves wheelchair accessibility from car-to-car, while increasing rider comfort and legroom. HVAC systems were also enhanced to automatically adjust cooling based on the number of people in the vehicle.
The Siemens regenerative energy storage unit makes the Orange Line more efficient and sustainable than its peers. Energy given off during braking is converted into electricity and then fed into a substation along the line, where it is stored in a lineup of supercapacitor racks. The electricity is then used when needed to power other vehicles, reducing the energy drawn from the utility feed. Use of this technology is projected to save TriMet 176,000 kWh each month.
In addition to the S70 and energy storage unit, Siemens is also providing signaling, gate crossing, and communication technologies along the Orange Line to ensure efficient, safe operation.
About the Customer
TriMet keeps Portland on the move. It serves this fast-growing metro area through bus, light rail, and commuter rail that combines for more than 100 million trips per year. Its new Orange Line light rail service is a 7.3-mile line that extends from Portland State University downtown to the Oak Grove neighborhood in North Clackamas County, southeast of the city center. It’s a natural extension, providing service to new communities and alleviating road congestion caused by limited crossings over the Willamette River.
Crowdsourcing Vehicle Design
Knowing they had an engaged ridership, TriMet solicited feedback on what their ideal ride would be. TriMet took their feedback, with topics ranging from seating configurations to disability access to air conditioning levels, and worked them into their new vehicle specifications. Similarly, TriMet enlisted its vehicle operators and technicians to see how the new vehicles could be improved for them and included those requirements.