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Hawaii prepares for a first: Rapid rail

Hawaii’s first rapid rail line, designed to ease heavy traffic along the main road in Honolulu, is set to be completed by 2019.

The 20-mile, $5.2-billion project is being paid for partly with federal transportation funds and partly with a half-percent general tax that has been collected in Oahu since 2007.

“Cities everywhere are suffering from increasing traffic congestion,” said Mirko Düsel, CEO of the rail electrification business unit of Siemens, which is installing the electrified track in Hawaii. “The acute traffic problem in urban conurbations not only has a negative impact on the quality of people’s lives, but also on the economy. The example of Honolulu shows how new rail rapid transit systems can be used to counter these effects in a practical fashion.”

When it’s completed, the Hawaii rail system will feature 21 stations running from east to west past Honolulu International Airport and Pearl Harbor. It’s expected to handle around 100,000 passengers a day.

The first section is due to open in 2015, with additional sections becoming operational by 2017 and 2019.

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