Proprietary Technology? Not at all.

Many believe that SkyTrain is a proprietary system and that any future expansion of the SkyTrain network or expansion of the train rolling stock must be done with Bombardier.   Contrary to this popular belief, according to a Bombardier response for ART (Advance Rapid Transit or ALRT for Advanced Light Rail Transit) from a Honolulu Rail Transit Request For Information document, this is in fact a myth:

http://www.honolulutransit.org/library/files/rfi_info_0308.pdf (note: large file, PDF)

An excerpt from page 80:

Bombardier Transportation
8 ) Can other manufacturers provide interoperable vehicles in a future procurement?  If so, please provide the names of up to four other manufacturers of compatible equipment.

ART is based on steel wheel rail technology at standard gauge and any number of manufacturers could potentially supply vehicles that may be interoperable.  Inter-operability, however, involves interfaces with other subsystems such as power supply/power pickup, train control and communications.   The ART-based AirTrain system at JFK Airport was designed to accommodate a future “one-seat ride” vehicle compatible with Long Island Rail Road.

Suppliers of steel wheel vehicles include: Siemens, Rotem, CAF, Ansaldo Breda Alsthom and others.

The recent 140 car upgrade for Kuala Lumpur [ART Kelana Jaya Line] was won by Bombardier in open competition with Kawasaki and Rotem.   In this case, both offered linear motor powered vehicles.

9 ) Can multiple manufacturers provide compatible interfacing systems equipment in a future procurement?   If so, please provide the names of up to four other manufacturers of compatible train control/signaling, traction power distribution, propulsion and braking control equipment.

– Train control: moving block automatic train control systems regardless of supplier and proprietary and not compatible with each other
– Traction power and distribution: in general, suppliers can be identified that will supply similar equipment, with the similar functionality
– Vehicle propulsion: suppliers can be identified that will supply similar equipment, with the similar functionality
– Brake control equipment: suppliers can be identified that will supply similar equipment, with the similar functionality

Clearly, Kawasaki Heavy Industries (a rather large company in Japan) as well as ROTEM (a South Korean company, a divison of Hyundai, which has built trains for the Canada Line project in Vancouver) are also competitors with Quebec-based Bombardier in building linear motor powered vehicles:   SkyTrain/ART/ALRT trains can be built by other companies and not solely by Bombardier.

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