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New trams in Seattle equipped with ABB traction converters and TCMS from Selectron

INEKON’s TRIO 121 wireless powered tram for Seattle.
Photo: Robert Jankuzoom

INEKON’s TRIO 121 wireless-powered tram for Seattle.
Photo: Robert Janku

The new tramline "First Hill" was built by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). This line serves Seattle's Capitol Hill, First Hill, Chinatown/International District, and the Pioneer Square; it is also an important transport connection to the Link Light Rail, Sounder trains and the bus service.

The approximately four-kilometer route – having ten stations – reaches some of the state's densest neighborhoods: the Seattle Central Community College, Seattle University and several hospitals, providing transport for a potential 3,000+ passengers every day. The trams will run 10 to 15 minutes apart, with the whole trip averaging 18 minutes.


For this line, SDOT chose the Czech car manufacturer INEKON GROUP, a.s. for placing an order for delivery of seven new trams with the option for a further twenty.

The company Inekon already has experience with successful delivery of its tram type "12 Trio" in the United States for the cities of Washington, D.C., Portland and Seattle.

A specialty of the First Hill tram is that it is electrified along the uphill route to Capitol Hill but not for the way back down. Therefore, in each vehicle the trams are equipped with two traction batteries, enabling them a distance of around four kilometers without catenary wire. Among other things, the batteries are charged via energy recuperation.

This type of power supply concept for rail is very rarely used in North America, or elsewhere.
To handle the specific traction requirements, Inekon chose ABB as a partner. This was due to ABB's long history of providing innovative and energy-efficient technologies to the rail sector, plus manufacturing and servicing of components and subsystems used in urban, inter city and high-speed networks – both for rail infrastructure and for rolling stock. The delivery scope of ABB in Switzerland includes the entire traction chain, auxiliary inverter, battery charger as well as the Train Control and Monitoring System ("TCMS").

For this project, ABB has selected Selectron AG as supplier for the TCMS hardware – including the entire TCMS engineering. This includes control of various functions, such as the traction chain, higher-level power management of the tram, comfort functions, as well as diagnosis and operating displays. Additionally, diagnostic data can be analyzed with the software tool Concerto® during commissioning and maintenance, with data uploads from vehicle control units to a central server being made via a Wi-Fi interface. For the systems network technology, Ethernet and CANopen are used.

The trams have already been successfully tested in Ostrava, Czech Republic; in Seattle, they will be tested and operational during May and June 2015 and enter regular service in summer 2015.


Subject to technical changes and amendments to technical specifications at any time.

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