Gov. Martin O'Malley announced today that the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is investing $153 million to acquire 54 new "multi-level" passenger rail cars for the MARC commuter rail system. The cars, manufactured by Bombardier Transport, will replace older cars that have reached the end of their service life, allowing MARC to provide additional seating capacity while expanding its existing fleet. The Board of Public Works approved the purchase today.
"Our goal is to double statewide transit ridership by 2020 in order to reduce highway congestion and improve the environment," said O'Malley. "This purchase, coupled with the 26 new 'green' diesel electric locomotives now serving the MARC system, is another major step toward achieving that goal."
The new rail cars will be qualified to operate at speeds up to 125 mph and meet all of the requirements of Amtrak for operation on the Penn Line, and of CSX for operation on the Camden and Brunswick lines. Seating capacity on board is greater than those of the cars that they will replace. They will come in three variations. Fifteen new "cab cars" that contain an engineer's compartment for operation will seat 127 passengers. Thirty-four "trailer cars" will hold 142 passengers, and five cars containing bathroom facilities will hold 132 passengers. The new cars will have a useful life of up to 40 years. When they come online, MTA will retire 26 single-level passenger cars and 12 gallery style cars. Overall, the MARC fleet will expand by 16 cars.
"With this purchase, the MTA will be able to meet the challenge of ever-growing MARC ridership in a way that saves the agency time and money in procuring this vitally-needed rolling stock," said MTA administrator Ralign T. Wells.
The federal government will pay as much as 80 percent of the cost while the state of Maryland will cover the balance. Delivery of the cars is expected to begin in the spring of 2013.
Other features of the new Bombardier cars include four side doors on each side of the car improving boarding, and de-boarding time at platforms. The vehicles also meet all Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requirements for Federal funding including "Buy America", and wheelchair access.
Currently more than 34,000 riders board MARC trains per weekday with approximately 22,200 on the Penn Line; 4,800 on the Camden line, and 7,400 on the Brunswick line.