Hybrid streetcar loses its wire

In many places, the old-fashioned streetcar is an emblem of a simpler, greener past. In Charlotte, North Carolina, it may soon be a harbinger of a greener public transportation future for historic areas.

To be sure, that is where Kinkisharyo International, L.L.C is set to unveil the prototype of its new LFX-300, a low-floor, dual-powered “hybrid” streetcar specifically designed for North America.

The LFX-300 can run on an overhead electric catenary, just like the old-fashioned streetcars, but it’s also learned a new hybrid trick.

By utilizing regenerative braking and charging up via catenary, the streetcar stores energy in an onboard battery, which can then be used in an off-wire, battery-only mode.

Rainer Hombach, vice president and general manager of Kinkisharyo International, believes the LFX-300 is the ideal streetcar for areas with historic preservation or aesthetic requirements that make overhead catenary power unfeasible.

Kinkisharyo has been working with the City of Charlotte and members of the Charlotte Area Transit System on the official unveiling of this new public transportation technology; the next stop for the LFX-300 will be Dallas.

Kinkisharyo is a global developer of urban transit technologies and currently has light-rail vehicles operating in many US cities, including Seattle, Phoenix, and Boston.

*Susan DeFreitas, EarthTechling