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RT is cleaning up its trains better and faster for riders. But maintenance workers may be happiest.

If the view from the window of a light-rail car has been looking brighter, you can thank Sacramento Regional Transit’s new high-powered train washing system.

RT upgraded its 30-year-old train washing system with a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendlier process that puts the shine on all of its 97 light-rail vehicles. The $1 million project completed in February is getting trains cleaner, faster and with less water runoff, said Henri Li, RT general manager, in a demonstration of the process Friday.

The new system washes and rinses the exterior of the train in under two minutes, and utilizes 60 percent recycled water for the wash process and all recycled water for the rinse that follows, according to RT.

To get the perfect system for its trains, maintenance Superintendent George Kirbyson said, the agency looked around the country and tried to take the best features of each system they assessed, including transit maintenance systems in San Diego, Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

The transition, which included demolition of a 30-year-old train washing station and a three-month installation, meant the dirty work was left to maintenance employees for the interim.

“The trains were hand-washed until the new system was built,” Kirbyson said.

Maintenance crews, who for six months cleaned both the trains’ exteriors and interiors, were happy to have the new, speedy system up and running, Kirbyson said, “especially in winter”.

The upgrade allows more time to focus on cleaning the interiors of the train cars, Li said. Cleaner interiors are part of the goal for RT, which is aiming to make public transportation a more pleasant experience for riders, Kirbyson said.

Sacramento’s new train wash features brushes that are tailored to address buildup on top of the region’s light-rail trains, which was difficult to remove and caused black streaks to run down the side of the trains when it rained, RT said.

Used water from the wash is treated so that dirt is collected and separated from any oil, which is collected for outside disposal. All water goes through a reverse osmosis process to make it pH neutral before entering the sewer, according to RT. The high-speed trains are washed weekly.

The project was funded by federal dollars through capital funding, RT’s Vice President of Communications and Partnerships Devra Selenis said.

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