On Jan. 6, a new era of safety, comfort and convenience arrived at Metro as the first 7000-series train pulled into Greenbelt Station. The newest addition to the rail fleet will fulfill a critical National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendation by replacing Metro’s oldest cars, while also adding train capacity.
Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles was joined by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Sen. Ben Cardin, Gov. Martin O’Malley, Mayor Vincent Gray and other officials for a tour of the new cars, which include many new design features that were suggested by customers.
The cars will be tested on the system over the next several months, and Metro will send data back to the Kawasaki production facility in Lincoln, Neb. to finalize the railcar design process. Full-scale production of the new cars is expected to begin in mid-2014.
“For all that Metro does to keep government running, get people to work and get cars off the road, this investment in Metro is about safety. These new 7000 series cars are the next generation of safer cars to ride the rails of Washington’s Metro,” said Mikulski, who fought to get the first-ever federal rail transit safety standards passed into law. “I have fought every year to deliver dedicated funding for Metro’s capital improvements, keeping safety on track on America’s Subway. I will not rest until Metro is safe for those who work on it and those who ride on it.”
The modern rail cars are equipped with state-of-the-art safety technology and numerous features designed with extensive customer input. Through the project’s customer design team, actual Metro riders participated in the design of the new railcars at every phase of the process. In addition, seat design options were tested with Metrorail riders in several stations, and Metro’s Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) and Riders’ Advisory Council (RAC) provided input.
Elements of the car that were influenced by customer feedback include:
- Interior layout, including placement of hand holds, privacy screens and seat positions
- Seat design and material
- Flooring materials and colors
- Design of exterior front of the train
- Accessibility elements, including markings of priority seating and call buttons
Safety is at the forefront in the design of the 7000-series cars, which are:
- Built to meet improved crashworthiness standards to absorb maximum energy in the event of a collision,
- Equipped with event recorders, meeting federal requirements,
- Constructed to meet rigorous fire safety standards, including those from the National Fire Protection Association and the American Public Transportation Association,
- Equipped with digital video surveillance systems, providing full coverage of the passenger area, operator cab and front windshield, and
- Equipped with “anti-climbers” that help keep cars upright and in-line in the event of a collision.
In addition, each individual railcar, as well as the overall vehicle design, manufacturing and testing, is undergoing a rigorous Safety and Security Certification process as required by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
“This is all about safety. Metro has a recognized responsibility to keep its riders and its employees as safe as possible. The arrival of new 7000-series cars, made possible by dedicated funding from the federal government and local jurisdictions, translates into greater safety and expanded service for our communities, especially the federal government which relies on Metro daily and in times of crisis,” said Cardin, who, as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, pushed forward the authorization needed to provide Metro with consistent, annual funding that would give Metro the ability to make such major capital investments.