Public Transportation & a French-American Partnership

March 11, 2019

In the News

France and the United States have long engaged in trade and exchanges. Recently, three French companies, Socofer, NEU Railways, and Cummins Franc­e—a subsidiary of the American Cummins Inc.—have established a partnership among themselves and with New York City (NYC) Transit branch of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to deliver three new vacuum cleaning trains, known as VakTrak, to be used on NYC’s train tracks.

The MTA is the largest transportation network in North America, and NYC Transit is one of its five operating agencies. The first VakTrak was delivered in June 2018, and the two others are planned to be delivered in early 2019. Built in France, the VakTrak costs $7.6 million, runs on diesel fuel, has almost zero emissions, and unlike older vacuum cars, it is able to clean a station in a single pass.

Socofer, NEU Railways, and Cummins France have created an innovative solution to the issue of trash on train tracks and the resulting track fires. According to Andy Byford, head of NYC Transit, “Garbage is the biggest cause of track fires.” Despite its recent arrival, the train has already had a positive impact by improving the efficiency, punctuality, and safety of NYC Transit. Since the first VakTrak vacuum cleaning train started running in New York during summer 2018, “delays caused by debris, smoke and fire have fallen by more than half, to 474 in September from 1,106 in August.”

Improving public transportation’s efficiency and safety is crucial in a city with an average of 7,763,800 passengers on a weekday, according to NYC Transit statistics. Moreover, it can enable and encourage more people to resort to public transportation, which is a positive step for the environment since it is a more sustainable form of transportation.

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