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Metro Introduces the Next Generation of Its Rail Cars
The new cars, with improved safety and comfort features, will go into service later this year. By Benjamin Freed
Metro is getting a cosmetic and technological upgrade with the new 7000-series cars. Photograph by Flickr user Matt Johnson.
Comments () | Published January 6, 2014

Metro showed off the future of the transit agency's rail fleet today when it introduced the first four of its new 7000-series cars. The cars, which feature modern touches like screens informing riders how far they are from their destination and seats with lumbar support, will replace the oldest cars in Metro's fleet when they are put into service later this year.

Richard Sarles, Metro's chief executive, told reporters today that in addition to being more comfortable and technologically advanced, the new cars are also far safer. The transit agency's reputation is still recovering from the June 2009 Red Line crash that killed nine people and injured another 80, and it is also completing two dozen upgrades ordered by the National Transportation Safety Board in the wake of the deadly incident.

The 7000-series cars have an improved crash rating, event recorders, and digital surveillance cameras tracking train operators and passengers. They are also equipped with "anti-climbers," devices intended to keep them upright in the event of a collision. On the inside, the new cars ditch Metro's notoriously gunked-up carpet for slip-resistant (and presumably easier to clean) rubber floors, wider aisles, and more rails for straphangers to grasp onto during the daily commute.

Digital signs inside the cars will tell riders how many stops away they are from their destinations. Photograph courtesy WMATA.

Sarles was joined at the Greenbelt station by several area bigwigs, including DC Mayor Vince Gray, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, and Representatives Steny Hoyer and Donna Edwards.

Eventually, Metro plans to replace the first four generations of its rolling stock, the oldest of which, the 1000-series, dates back to the system's founding in 1976. But unlike the previous models, which are all backward-compatible with each other, the 7000-series cars are a "blank slate," as Sarles said. When the new cars debut after several months of testing, they won't be mixed with older segments of Metro's fleet. Metro has 528 cars on order, which will make up more than half the fleet by 2018.

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  • Haywood Jablome

    Are the electronic gizmos more expensive to repair when the animals downtown deface them?

  • Marjorie Nye

    What? Signs that tell where you are? Aw, gee. I'm going to miss hearing, "Next stop, Gshrklespeshsishhsshhr"

  • onetimeuser

    seem to be very much like the cars that have been used in barcelona and other cities for quite some time now….about time that the rather high rates that just keep climbing are put to some sort of use other than station closings that don't appear (on the surface, though I'm sure they're necessary in some way) to improve anything

  • Stella

    Thats cool, I guess. Can metro fares be reduced to reasonable amounts again once this is all done?

  • trainfan

    What about the rates are unreasonable to you? You do realize that the Metro allows you to travel most places in a 20 mile radius with relative ease for under $5? I'm not very aware of transportation alternatives that you consider affordable. I put $80/month on my Metro Card at that covers ALL of my transportation expenses? I think that's a fair price when I compare it to my friends that are stuck driving from place to place in their current locales. At least DC adjusts their fares so that people that travel long distances are effectively paying more for the service. Whenever I hear people make this claim it always comes off as miserly.

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Posted at 01:33 PM/ET, 01/06/2014 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs