Exactly one month after beginning my quest, I finally rode the new Ansaldobreda steel skin Metro Rail train. The numbers: Train 708, 04.25.08, 8:04AM, 1 stop worth.
It was a hectic morning. I decided to buy a cup of coffee from Antigua, rather than going straight to the station. I see the new Breda train pass, not being tested, but instead carrying real live commuters! Dag! I could have taken that one to work.
So I buy my coffee, and jump on the next train and proceed to demonstrate the exact reason why the Metro fines people who eat or drink on the train: I drop my coffee, spilling it all over the rubbery floor. How embarrassing.
I continue to ride, and decide to get off due to embarrassment, and the fact that they opened a new Starborg’s literally within 10 feet of the Gold Line at the Filmore Station. This time, I buy a more manageable iced coffee. Back on the train.
I take the next train to the end of the line Sierra Madre Villa Station. I get off, and there it is in all its steel clad beauty on the other side of the platform, preparing to depart the other way down the track. What do I do? Ignore it and go to work, like I should? Hell no, I jump on that train!
I was expecting to hear a somebody yell at me to get off, that the train was out of service. But no, I was really inside it, I thought I should be hearing the gentle strumming of a harp over the PA, but just then a new, unfamiliar mechanical voice chimed in, telling me to “Stand clear, the doors are closing,” that the next stop would be “Allen Station.” It was wonderful. I was beaming, walking up the isle looking at all the features, noticing the few passengers thinking that I was some sort of freak to be so happy about riding a train. I had to bail at Allen Station, and head back towards work. But for that brief 3 minuet ride, I was in train heaven.
I have rode twice since last week, and see that they are running the 706 and 708 Breda Trains throughout the day now. Some initial observations: This train is more narrow than the previous trains. But it is more quiet. The crowded train I was on this morning seem to have a air-conditioning deficiency with so many people on board. The new announcement voice is pleasant and clear, and I am glad that he says “End of the line,” at Sierra Madre Villa station, rather than “Service beyond this station is temporary suspended,” that the older trains use. (That last one always causes me to add “Until 2012 -funds permitting.”)
At $3,174,773 per train (total of 50 ordered), these trains are state-of-the art in light rail, and designed exclusively for Los Angeles’ Metro. These are the trains that will be in use when the Eastside extension is finished, and when the Foothill extension to Montclair is completed in 2014.I expect by then the Gold Line will no longer cross the hazardous Avenues due to increased train traffic and needed schedule improvements. Probable tunneling, or at least a below grade portion like we see with the portion of the Gold Line that passes between Cypress Park and Southwest Museum Stations. Yet, why do I suspect this to happen in ever-vigilant (whiny) South Pasadena before Highland Park? Huh.