EAGLE Project Progress – Railcar Construction

We have our first detailed look at the ongoing construction of the new rail cars for the EAGLE Project, courtesy of RTD!

As many of you may have seen in a recent Denver Business Journal article, the 50 cars that will be used along the East, Gold, and Northwest corridors are currently under construction in South Korea by Hyundai-Rotem. The basic shells of the cars will be constructed in South Korea before being shipped to another Hyundai-Rotem factory in Philidelphia. At this state-side factory, the rest of the cars will be assembled – everything from the windows to the seats to the propulsion systems will be installed there.


Some may be asking why the cars are not constructed by an American company, a good question given these economic times and emphasis on creating good jobs in America. There currently isn’t an American manufacturer to build commuter rail vehicles. Even with the Korean construction of the initial train shells, the train cars will still meet all ‘Buy America‘ requirements as imposed by the federal government. RTD estimates upwards of 60% of the trains will be constructed and assembled in the United States with American workers.


There is a set of four initial cars that will be fully constructed (wheels, HVAC system, seats, windows, etc.) and tested in Korea early next year. Assuming they pass their tests, the train cars will be disassembled and sent to Philadelphia along with the 46 other RTD rail cars for final assembly. Look for the new rail cars to begin arriving in late 2014/early 2015!

By | 2012-11-21T14:13:18+00:00 November 21, 2012|Categories: Infrastructure, Transit, Transportation|Tags: , , , |6 Comments


  1. Zmapper November 22, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    If I am reading this right, the trains will be assembled in Korea, disassembled, and then reassembled in America? What an absolute waste of money! Outdated Buy America, FRA, and FTA rules do little to increase transit availability, but do a lot to put up needless hurdles to well-managed projects.

    Either way, the trains look great. At this stage my biggest question is how wide each door panel will be for wheelchairs and those with luggage, and how level the level boarding will actually be. The Silverliners for SEPTA appear to have narrow door entry paths, and require the use of bridge plates to achieve level boarding.

    • Larry November 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      I’m not too sure if the article changed since you posted your comment. But, the article currently says the basic shell is assembled in Korea then shipped to the US for the final assembly. No disassembly.

      I personally think the trains look dopey. Why does RTD always get the ugliest buses, light rail, and commuter rail cars. I hate to see them do a street car, because we all know it will be ugly once again. DIA’s the same way, with their ugly commuter busses. I’m presume it’s cheaper to buy ugly, but it just makes Denver look very second class. And, I really doubt it’s that much cheaper.

      • Zmapper November 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm

        I believe I read that they would be disassembled, and then shipped, but on second reading it appears that the article has been corrected.

        Houston is being forced to do something similar with their light rail project. The car builder, CAF, was going to make two test trains in their foreign factory that they would ship finished to Houston. The FTA and the lawyers got involved, and the result was that they would be forced to assemble the car to meet CAF standards, disassemble, ship it to the US, reassemble, and then finally test just two cars.

        RTD has a tendency to make mechanically solid, but aesthetically unattractive vehicle purchases. I never cared for the Gillig Low Floors; the windows are either too high for the front section or too low for the back section, requiring a reinforcement bar, the rear door is very narrow, and the exterior looks rather dated for 2012. The light rail cars aren’t much better. While the rest of the world purchases low-floor cars, including Salt Lake, Denver continues to purchase the high-floor SD 160 model. I estimate that it takes about a minute extra for the operator to secure the train, leave his cabin, operate the ramp, re-enter his cabin, and take control of the train again. Operating time could be saved by using vehicles with proper level boarding.

  2. Octavian November 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I would rather have the vehicles constructed entirely overseas if it meant RTD could purchase them for a lower price.

    The reason the vehicles are ugly is because the FTA has outdated regulations requiring the trains to be as heavy as tanks. This adds weight, cost and operating expense to the trains. It also limits the potential pool of suppliers. Those sleek trains you see overseas are outlawed in America.

    • mckillio November 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      I would love to see more detail on this. What kind of forces are the light rail trains under that would require them to be so strong and therefore heavy?

      • Octavian November 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm

        US passenger trains that share right-of-way with railroads have to meet FRA Tier I standards, which use a different approach than European and Japanese regulations. There is a buff strength requirement that makes US equipment far heavier.

        Its a complicated issue, but this gives you a flavor. You can google the topic for more:


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