Posner Testing Rail Transit Concept

A Pittsburgh-based railroad investor wants to bring surplus English subway cars to the United States for possible use as low-cost public transit on low-density freight routes.

Henry Posner III, who heads Railroad Development Corporation, acquired 150 former London Underground D78-series surface cars and plans to convert them to diesel or battery power.

Posner told Trains magazine that he plans to start a demonstrate project on the East Coast in what he called a “pop-up” rail transit option.

He envisions it serving smaller urban areas, cities, or areas of cities cannot afford or have not considered rail transit.

To make such service work it would need to operate at times of day when freight trains were not using the rails.

Some cities have expressed interest in the concept, but none have committed to it yet, Posner said.

Posner believes his concept will “change that perception of cost” of rail transit because trains can be tried out on a route for far less than the cost of a consultant’s study of proposed rail service.

Although his concept may not be a long-term solution in every trial, he said the service can help rail transit service get started. If the market is there, the route might grow into more conventional rail transit service.

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