Behind the Tracks Exploring Vehicle Options for the Cotton Belt

Posted on Nov 6, 2017 by dartdallas
North Texas will soon be home to a state of the art, regional rail line that will laterally connect our region: The Cotton Belt.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll peek behind the tracks and bring you the inside scoop on all the different elements involved in making the Cotton Belt one of North Texas’s most successful transit projects. DART is not just one of the newest transit systems in the United States, it’s also one of the most technologically advanced.  As with all our projects, we are looking to incorporate the newest and most sustainable engineering into the Cotton Belt, integrating it into the communities along the corridor and making our system more reliable, cleaner, and safer over the long-term. Today, we’re exploring the vehicle or rail car DART is seeking to use on the 26-mile rail line. This new self-powered, light-weight rail vehicle will be designed to be environmentally and community friendly, and significantly different when compared to traditional commuter rail cars. Collaborating with the rail industry, DART plans to use a vehicle with what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls a Tier IV engine, which is the latest advancement that results in near zero emissions.  In addition, the vehicle would be built to comply with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) so it can share track with existing freight trains. Key characteristics of new Cotton Belt vehicles include:
  • Mostly electric motors to keep the vehicle powered quietly and smoothly
  • Quieter when its running and less vibration disturbance than its freight rail cousin
  • Lighter and smaller than a typical commuter rail vehicle
  • No overhead wires or cables
  • Wide entrance doors and low floors for easier accessibility
  • Sleek appearance and improved structural design
Hard to imagine? We get it. Take a look at the vehicle selected by the Fort Worth Transportation Authority for the TEXRail Project from Fort Worth to DFW Airport. While the Cotton Belt vehicles will not be an exact replica, this example gives a sense of how streamlined these vehicles look compared to older models. Stay tuned to Behind the Tracks: The Cotton Belt to learn more about potential impacts and mitigation related to issues such as noise and vibration, street crossing safety tools, stations and more!
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