Czech Republic's Inekon Group chosen to design, build streetcars for Detroit's new light rail

A company from the Czech Republic will design and build coaches for Detroit's streetcar project, M-1 Rail officials announced Monday.

The contract with the Inekon Group is expected to be about $30 million for six custom rail cars.

The rail line is scheduled for completion in late 2016 and will have 16 curbside and four median passenger stations. It will run in a 6.6-mile loop from Detroit's riverfront along Woodward Avenue to the New Center area and is expected to spur economic and job growth along the corridor.

"Inekon has a strong track record with other streetcar projects in Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., and owns a 40 percent share of U.S.-installed projects," said Paul Childs, M-1 Rail's chief operating officer.

Several locations in southeastern Michigan are being considered for final assembly of the streetcars, which will be 73 feet long, 13 feet high and 8½ feet wide.

The federal government has committed more than $37 million this year to the $140 million project. The government requires that U.S.-based transportation infrastructure projects be built with American-made products, according to Childs.

"We want to assure that materials, parts, labor, manufacturing processes, and final assembly will meet the Buy America requirements," he said.