WMATA awards 8000-series railcar contract to Hitachi Rail

March 18, 2021
The $2.2-billion contract includes a base order of 256 cars with options to build up to 800 cars.

Hitachi Rail Washington LLC has been selected by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to build Metrorail’s 8000-series rail cars to replace WMATA’s aging 2000-series and 3000-series cars, which have been in service since the early 1980s.

The $2.2-billion contract includes a base order of 256 cars with options to build up to 800 in the fleet.

WMATA explains the new railcars are funded using new dedicated revenue streams established by the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. WMATA says it structured the procurement process to encourage reinvestment of local tax dollars into the regional economy.

Hitachi Rail will manufacture the car body structure, perform the equipment installation and will do the final assembly of the 8000-series cars in the Metro D.C. region, which both Hitachi Rail and WMATA note will result in new skilled trades jobs in the local region. The initial pilot vehicles are expected to be delivered in 2024.

“We are excited about this critical investment in safe and reliable railcars and service for Metro customers, made possible through the region’s dedicated funding commitment,” said WMATA Board of Directors Chair Paul C. Smedberg. “The capital investments we are making in our transit system also support our businesses, our environment and our quality of life in the national capital region.”

The 8000-series railcars will build on the 7000-series cars, which WMATA calls “the most reliable in Metro’s history.” The new cars will include state-of-the-art safety technology and mechanical design. The new railcars are designed to be lighter, safer and more energy-efficient with improved regenerative braking technology, ventilation system improvements, high-definition cameras and stringent cybersecurity requirements to enhance security.

“The 8000-series railcars will modernize the Metro fleet with Hitachi building on the success of the newest 7000-series cars to provide reliable, comfortable and safe transportation for our region and contribute to the local economy,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “The new railcars will take everything customers love about the 7000-series and incorporate the latest technology and features that will serve hundreds of millions of passengers over the cars' 40-year lifespan."

The new railcars will also include features to improve the customer experience including real-time information, more digital screens, dynamic maps, electrical outlets for charging personal devices and additional hand holds throughout the interior.

“We are honored to help Metro meet their mobility needs, providing innovative solutions to customers and improving the passenger experience,” said Andrew Barr, CEO, Hitachi Rail Group. "The rapid growth of our business translates into direct and indirect U.S. jobs and further capital investments. The 8000-series award signals a major expansion of our U.S. business.”

He continued, “We also believe that our downstream supply chain offers considerable opportunities for the participation of diverse business enterprises. We value diversity in the workplace and the marketplace.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.