Metro considers new look for trains
Sleek and silver on the outside and new ergonomic seats and resilient flooring on the inside. That’s part of the early design for future Metro railcars the transit agency is considering.
“These new cars are what we will be passing along to the next generation of Metrorail riders,” said Dave Kubicek, Metro's Assistant General Manager for Metrorail, who is leading the development of designs of the 7000 Series rail cars
Metro officials envision a new shiny exterior with stainless steel instead of an aluminum car body. Gone would be the wide brown exterior paint stripes. Fiberglass seats would be replaced with stronger, yet thinner stainless steel for more leg room.
There would be no more carpet. The rail cars would have 64 cloth-padded, taller seats with seat-back grab handles. Passengers also could grab onto overhead and spring loaded handles.
There would be interactive, linear maps automated announcements stating the station names the trains are servicing and security cameras on all rail cars.
"High-tech rail maps that will highlight station stops and provide passenger information along with automated station announcements and more grab handles are new features that all riders can appreciate," said incoming Metro Board Chair Christopher Zimmerman, who represents Arlington County, Va.
“The new rail maps will be on LCD monitors. Passengers could also see advertisements and passenger information on the screens," said Kubicek.
The new cars could also have touch screen controls for the operator and better diagnostics for easier evaluation and troubleshooting if there are mechanical problems.
The new seat configuration, resilient floors and spring grab handles are already being tested on a rail car that was recently put into service. Metro began testing two other remodeled rail cars last year. They have bench seating, more overhead grab bars, and an open floor area near the doors to accommodate more customers and ease passenger flow into the railcars. Metro has been testing different styles of rail car designs in an effort to improve passenger flow aboard trains.
Metro currently has a fleet of 1,070 rail cars ranging from the 1000 to 6000 Series. The oldest, 1000 Series rail cars are more than 30-years-old. Metro began putting the 6000 Series rail cars into service last year. Kubicek says it’ll be at least five years before the 7000 Series cars will be riding the rails.