Discussion related to commuter rail and transit operators in California past and present including Los Angeles Metrolink and Metro Subway and Light Rail, San Diego Coaster, Sprinter and MTS Trolley, Altamont Commuter Express (Stockton), Caltrain and MUNI (San Francisco), Sacramento RTD Light Rail, and others...

Moderator: lensovet

  by Tadman
A few days ago I learned that the original Duewag cars from San Diego's MTS, perhaps 30+ years old, were sold to Argentina for use in Mendoza, the wine capital of the southern cone (and if you like wine, it's darn good there).

1. This is a bit amusing if you follow history, as 60 years ago, both Pacific Electric and Key System sold cars to the quasi-interurban "General Urquiza Railway". The closest thing I can think of to the Urquiza is the CA&E or P&W, and it was run by PE cars mostly after 1955ish.

2. What kind of shape were those cars in upon retirement from San Diego service? I would hazard a guess that the service in Mendoza is of a much lower duty cycle (IE less runs, lower speed, etc...) so that a new service with 30 year old cars makes sense.

Then again, until recent acquisitions of Chinese rolling stock, no rolling stock in Argentina was newer than 1985, and the GT22's et al... seem to be humming along next to the newer CSR diesels.
  by electricron
Mendoza Metrotranvia is what they call the relatively new service.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrotranv%C3%ADa_Mendoza" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The initial "Green Line" was opened officially on 8 October 2012 with 16 stations over 7.8 miles, averaging a station every half mile. They are in construction extending the line north an additional 3.5 miles to Las Heras, and there are plans to branch another line from the existing line over 9 miles south to Luján de Cuyo. They bought 11 U2s from San Diego for operations initially, and another 4 U2s was provided free for spare parts. They had planned to buy another 28 U2s from San Diego, but I'm not aware if they have. The initial 11 U2s arrived from San Diego after a complete refurbishment and looked brand new on arrival in Mendoza. The spare 4 U2s in the bone yard have been covered with graffiti, as they are parked on sidings unprotected.

Daily ridership was 5,000 in 2013. While they can be operated in multiple units, Mendoza rarely does so. The facilities at the stops are bare minimum, but they are also using some refurbished old train stations depots that raises the facilities nicely at those locations.

The costs to construct the initial "Green Line" was $3.2 million, with another $3.3 million to purchase the 11 U2s from San Diego. San Diego sold the U2s at an average price of $300,000 /U2. Total costs for the initial 7.8 mile long line was $6.5 million, averaging $833,333 million/mile.

Compared to the average $50 million/mile capital costs for light rail lines in the USA, I would suggest the citizens of Mendoza got a great deal on a transit project for their money, paying around 50 times less than we do.

FYI, DART recently sold 12 Budd RDCs to AllEarth Rail for $300,000/RDC. So whether it's diesel or electric powered, old multiple unit rail cars have a base price around $300,000. ;)
  by ExCon90
From what I could see the San Diego cars were maintained to a high standard--there might be a lot of mileage left in them.
  by Tadman
Wow, I cannot get over how cheap it was to build that line. Granted wages are cheaper, and they have no problems with NIMBYs and impact studies, but wow.
  by electricron
Tadman wrote:Wow, I cannot get over how cheap it was to build that line. Granted wages are cheaper, and they have no problems with NIMBYs and impact studies, but wow.
That's what usually happens if you're willing to use "recycled" rails, ballast, ties, stations, and rolling stock in an abandoned rail corridor vs buying all new stuff. You too can purchase a very nice caddy at a heavy discount if you're willing to buy a used caddy with hundreds of thousand of miles on the odometer. How great that deal would be would be determined by how well the old caddy was maintained.

But Mendoza has its own versions of NIMBYs, what we would call squatters, living on parts of the abandoned railroad corridor. There's been a major delay constructing the line north to Las Heras because of them, and there was opposition by a suburban city building the branch line south to Luján de Cuyo because that city had build a trail or bike path in the abandoned rail corridor. They're still arguing politically over how to accommodate both the rail line and bike path, which is why the expansion part 3 is being built before part 2.
  by Tadman
Ha, I did just that. Crimson pearl STS, bought with 40k miles and sold it around 80k. Was a total bargain until the air ride went out, then, uh... I sold it. Some kid in the area really wanted my caddy and knew how to replace the air ride with Monroe shocks.

Goes to show you what may not have economic value to one of us may have economic value to another. With as cheap as labor is in the provinces down there, it may make sense to nudge another decade or two out of 30-yo streetcars. The average wage out in the sticks probably is $500US/month. If a transit agency needs 10 cars, buys 25, you have 10 in service, 10 being worked on, and 5 to cannibalize. That is seriously the reality of third world countries (they did this in Cleveland, as well, with the red line. I'm sure there's a joke in there but I can't think of one now).