NCTD rolls out new COASTER locomotives and overhauled coaches

Feb. 9, 2021
The new equipment is part of a strategic plan to increase transit ridership over the next five years.

The North County Transit District (NCTD) launched its five new Siemens Charger locomotives into revenue service on Feb. 8, along with overhauled COASTER coaches that feature new interiors and updated passenger amenities.

The new Siemens Chargers meet the latest emission standards and significantly reduce noise compared to the old locomotives, which were originally built in 1975 and 1992 and have reached the end of their useful life.

“The new locomotives are specifically designed to serve as the standard for the next generation of locomotive technology,” said NCTD Board Chair Tony Kranz at a press conference that celebrated the unveiling of the new rail equipment.

The new locomotives were manufactured in Sacramento, Calif. NCTD received funding for the project from a $10-million grant from the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District Carl Moyer Program, along with approximately $46.6 million from the state of California Senate Bill 1 (SB1).

NCTD has been overhauling its current fleet of 28 bi-level coaches, which includes all new equipment, new exterior paint scheme, new carpet and flooring, new seating upholstery, LED overhead lighting and USB charging ports at select seats. Funding for the overhaul of the COASTER cars is provided from federal, state and local sources.

Kranz notes this is just one step NCTD is taking along with its regional partners to improve COASTER services. In addition to the five new locomotives and overhauled COASTER coaches, the agency will also receive two replacement locomotives, two expansion locomotives, 10 expansion bi-level passenger coaches and one replacement rail cab to support state of good repair needs and regional plans to increase train frequencies from 22 to 42 trains per average weekday over the next three to five years. The funding for the expansion equipment is being provided by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).

“As the regional transportation agency, SANDAG is proud to have supported NCTD and the expansion of their coaster fleet by contributing more than $50 million to purchase two full train sets,” said Catherine Blakespear, city of Encinitas mayor and SANDAG chair. “This event starts the clock on implementing new and improved COASTER services, consistent with SANDAG’s 5 Big Moves vision to provide high quality public transportation.”

NCTD is advancing a strategic five-year plan to implement low- and zero-emissions technologies, introduce new and improved services and technologies, foster economic growth, support regional housing needs and modernize infrastructure. This plan includes purchasing new vehicles for the rail and bus fleets, executing agreements to support the redevelopment of property owned by NCTD, and enhancing the customer experience by leveraging new technology, such as a new fare system and improved real-time information and striving for zero operating delays.

About the Author

Megan Perrero | Associate Editor

Megan Perrero is an award-winning B2B journalist. She is the associate editor of Mass Transit magazine where she assists with developing the newsletters and social media posts, along with the online and print content. She is currently a board member for Latinos in Transit and serves on the APTA Marketing and Communications Committee. She’s based out of Chicago, Ill.

Prior to joining the team, Perrero gained experience covering the manufacturing and processing food and beverage industry, the agriculture industry and the library industry.

Perrero is a Columbia College Chicago alumna where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a concentration in magazine writing and a minor in public relations.