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Siemens lands $83 million contract for light rail in Houston

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Houston METRO has awarded Siemens with a light rail contract worth $83 million.

Houston's METRO announced this morning that it has awarded industrial conglomerate Siemens with a contract worth $83 million for light rail in the city.

Specifically, Siemens will build and deliver nineteen S70 light rail vehicles, spare parts, training and manuals. It is Houston's second order from the company, which will build the vehicles at its plant in Sacramento, Calif.

The S70 maxes out at 66 miles per hour, and its low floor allows passengers to board the train at street level.

Siemens was the turnkey provider for METRO's 7.5-mile starter line, which opened in January 2004 -- in time to handle more than 64,000 attendees of Super Bowl XXXVIII. (Houston's normal daily ridership is about half that: 34,600.)

During that project, Siemens provided the rolling stock, rail automation, rail electrification and project management. METRO currently has 18 S70 light rail vehicles in operation in Houston -- part of the authority's greater goal to boost regional mobility, with financial assistance from the Obama administration.

Two year ago, the authority signed a $1.5 billion contract with Parsons Transportation Group to build four new light rail lines -- about 20 miles' worth -- in the city.

"Light rail is a zero-emission transportation option, and it takes cars off the crowded roadways," Siemens Industry mobility president Oliver Hauck said in a statement.

The new rail cars will be delivered in October 2012.

Photo: Ed Schipul/Flickr

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Andrew Nusca

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Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure