Four new rail cars costing $11 million damaged upon delivery to SMART

Four new diesel rail cars Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit planned to put on the tracks in December to close a hole in its nightly weekday schedule arrived here from Japan damaged, delaying any schedule changes on the commuter rail line until at least the middle of next year.

SMART officials had hoped to incorporate the pair of two-train sets into its existing fleet of 14 cars to help address what it recognizes are shortcomings in existing service.

“We made good guesses what the schedule should look like,” Farhad Mansourian, SMART’s general manager, told the agency’s 12-member board earlier this month. “A year later, (we’re) getting great feedback from members of the public. We were all gunning to do all of this. Now we don’t have the vehicles.”

The new cars cost $11 million and were a separate purchase from an original $46 million order SMART placed with Nippon Sharyo in 2010. The company previously assembled the trains in Illinois, but the new cars were built at its factory in Toyokawa, Japan, before boating them to a port in Savannah, Georgia. From there, the 149-ton rail cars were shipped across the country aboard Union Pacific’s freight line.

Somewhere in transit, the cars were damaged when they arrived last month to the North Bay’s public rail agency — one set more than the other.

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