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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis November 2, 2012
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CAF’s URBOS Streetcar: New Technologies for Green Operation
BY JITENDRA S. TOMAR, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, CAF USA, Washington, DC
CAF’s new URBOS streetcars—now operating in Zaragoza, Spain—use innovative technologies to provide environmentally friendly service for urban mobility.
The firm has implemented “Product Sustainability Function”—an eco-design methodology in engineering and manufacturing processes—in construction of the URBOS streetcar. The ultimate goal is to optimize the entire operating life cycle of these vehicles.
As a result of this effort, CAF has developed a unique Environmental Product Declaration (EPD®) certified tram. The environmental impact Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) study on the Zaragoza Streetcar follows ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards.
Environmental Declaration
The definition of an environmental declaration, as it appears in ISO 14025, is quantified environmental data for a product with pre-set categories of parameters based on the ISO 14040 series of standards, but not excluding additional environmental information. EPDs add several new market dimensions to inform about environmental performance of products and services with key characteristics and guiding principles, resulting in a number of advantages both for organizations creating EPDs and those making use of EPD information.
The traction equipment on CAF’s URBOS streetcars operating in Zaragoza includes Insulated-Gate Bipolar Transitor (IGBT) technology in conjunction with a hybrid Rapid Charge Accumulator unit and nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries that allow the vehicles to operate without catenary up to 1.8 kilometers. This feature contributes to an improved integration of urban transport in cities while also minimizing visual impact in heritage and historical districts.
The super-capacitors can be fully charged in about 20 seconds, while the train is stopped at a station. The system also recovers both braking energy and energy stored on the journey.
The roof-mounted accumulator can work with any new or existing installations or infrastructure, and the NiMH batteries serve as backup for solving super-capacitor failure situations.
The vehicle body design features a 100 percent low floor for better passenger flow and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Motor trucks with individual motors for each wheel provide comfortable ride quality.
CAF uses environmentally friendly and recyclable materials from renewable sources in the  manufacture of this streetcar.
Immediate Benefits
In the first year since introducing URBOS streetcars, Zaragoza has seen a 35 percent decline in traffic levels through the city center and a 7 percent drop in carbon dioxide emissions.
Tramways & Urban Transit, an international magazine based in the United Kingdom, named the Zaragoza streetcar project its 2012 International Project of the Year for light rail project development, economic contributions, sustainability, modern design, and innovative technology. The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) honored it with the 2012 Best Urban Integration Project award during the International UITP Local Rail Summit in Warsaw, Poland.
The city of Cincinnati has selected CAF to supply sreetcars for the first phase of its streetcar project. These vehicles—based on the URBOS platform with adaptations to meet U.S. operating requirements—will be manufactured at CAF’s facility in Elmira, NY.


CAT’s innovative URBOS streetcars have entered service in Zaragoza, Spain. 



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