The Metra Board of Directors has agreed to buy up to 500 state-of-the-art multilevel railcars from Alstom Transportation.
About 40 percent of Metra’s current fleet of 840 cars are rated in marginal or poor condition, officials say, adding that the new cars will offer increased reliability and reducing operating costs. The purchase has been part of Metra’s Board plan since 2014.
“This move is truly transformational,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a news release. “We are finally modernizing one of the oldest fleets in the country and, in doing so, we will improve operations while elevating our passenger experience to an entirely new level. It’s really part of our long-term plan to evolve and serve the changing needs of today’s commuters.”
Officials say the cars are designed for modern-day comfort and include passenger amenities, such as video screens, bike racks, storage for bags, charging outlets, cupholders and arm rests. The cars will have two entranceways on each side with doors nearly level to the platform, requiring only one step to enter instead of multiple steps on the old gallery cars.
“From an operational perspective, most people don’t realize that we are constantly making upgrades to tracks, bridges and our car servicing,” Bruce Marcheschi, Metra’s chief operating officer/deputy executive director, said in a news release. “But this is something that our passengers will immediately see, feel and smell. This is a real game-changer for our riders.”
The initial order will be for 200 cars. Metra will have the option to buy up to 300 additional cars for up to $1.8 billion total. The cars specified in the contract are a customized version of Alstom’s Coradia Duplex model and built at their Hornell, N.Y. manufacturing facility.