Hitachi Ltd announced late last week that its U.S. based arm had secured a contract to replace and improve the train control systems used in the operations of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.

The order is said to be worth in the region of US$798 million.

Announcing the deal, Hitachi Rail STS USA Inc. said they aim to replace an existing 48-year-old train operating system, installing a fully digital control unit to permit better overall performance on the crucial transport arm of one of California’s leading cities and economic hubs.

When complete it is anticipated the oft-criticised system will be able to run on tighter schedules with an overall increase in potential passenger numbers.

At present, car lengths on the various BART lines vary – running between four and ten – but the overall passenger numbers are only around 410,000 Monday to Friday with numbers in the 162,000 region on Saturdays, dropping to as low as 115,000 on Sundays.

The population of San Francisco and Oakland combined stands at roughly 1.3 million.

The project will be completed by the Japanese firm by 2029.

When done it is envisaged that the system’s operators will be able to run up to 30 x ten-car trains each hour in each direction on the main San Francisco to Oakland route.

The current maximum stands at 23.

The project has also been forecast to add around 500 jobs to the local economy with up to 9,000 further jobs directly or indirectly benefitting from the nine-year long plan the company says.

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