Saturday, November 26, 2011

HART Panel Quizzes Ansaldo on Firm’s Stability, Finds ‘No Red Flags’ To Block Contract Signing

Ansaldo executive meets with HART members (Hawaii News Now image).
Board members of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit reportedly have had their concerns allayed about the joint venture that was selected to supply cars and train control systems for Honolulu’s rail transit system.

Members of HART’s Finance and Project Oversight committees met jointly yesterday and questioned Sergio De Luca, CEO of Ansaldo STS, who had flown in from Italy for the meeting.

The session was prompted by media stories on the financial losses sustained by Finmeccanica SpA, the parent company of the Ansaldo Honolulu joint venture.

According to Civil Beat (free for occasional visitors), the session covered 10 topics and ended with “no red flags” about the venture’s ability to perform under a $1.4 billion contract with the city.

The Star-Advertiser (subscription) quotes Finance Committee Chair Don Horner as saying the committee was “satisfied that the questions we had have been addressed.” The contract could be signed as early as next week, according to several media stories.

Hawaii News Now’s video report has additional details.

Streetcars Returning to Los Angeles?
Rail transit continues its comeback in America’s leading car-crazy city. Los Angeles officials are evaluating the reintroduction of streetcars onto their old thoroughfares, a move they hope would revitalize the downtown district.

KTTV FOX 11 carried a report earlier this month on how rail transit was once a vital component of the region’s transportation system until the post-war years, when tracks were replaced by concrete for vehicle lanes.

Two disadvantages of at-grade rail transit are obvious in KTTV's archived video footage – its relatively slow speed and the potential for collisions with other vehicles.

Just yesterday, a Metro Blue Line train collided with a car in downtown Los Angeles, resulting in injuries to nine people, including five train passengers. KNX newsradio described the aftermath.

Honolulu’s future rail system will be built elevated above city streets and traffic, making accidents like this one impossible.

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