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New U.S. Streetcars A Boon to European Makers

A surge in streetcar system construction in the United States is benefitting a number of tram builders like Siemens of Germany and Skoda of the Czech Republic.
November 11, 2008, 8am PST | Tim Halbur
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"In May, Siemens, the market leader, landed a $277 million contract to supply streetcars to the Utah Transport Authority. The vehicles will be ready for service by 2012 and will be built at a Siemens factory in Sacramento, California. Earlier this year, Siemens signed a $184 million order for a new light rail line in Denver.

'The Denver development was not atypical,' said Oliver Hauck, president and chief executive of Siemens Transportation Systems. 'We began with an initial, small order' that eventually mushroomed into a substantial commitment. Siemens first delivered eight streetcars to Denver in 1993; the last order was for 55 cars, and Hauck expects more.

But the recent financial turmoil threatens the market. Cities and other local governments have been effectively shut out of the bond market. In October, at the annual gathering of the American Public Transportation Association in San Diego, California, discussions ran hot and cold.

'At one level, the gathering had the highest attendance ever,' said Boothe, who took part. 'At another level, as you talked to friends, everybody was looking at stock values.'"

Thanks to Reconnecting America

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Published on Monday, November 10, 2008 in International Herald Tribune
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