Metra signs $154 million contract with Stadler for battery electric trainsets

Feb. 22, 2024
The BEMU rail vehicles supplied by Stadler will help Metra to improve air quality in Chicago's more densely populated regions.

Metra is investing in greener passenger rail options. The agency has contracted Stadler for a $154 million base order for eight two-car, battery-powered trainsets, including engineering, training and spare parts. 

The contract leaves room for options that could add an additional $181.4 million for eight more trainsets and up to 32 trailer cars, which could be added to the two-car trainsets to create three- or four-car trainsets. 

The first trainsets will be delivered in 2027-2028 and Metra intends to introduce the Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) rail vehicles on its Rock Island Line.  

“This purchase demonstrates Metra’s commitment to cleaner power, to quieter trains and to thinking outside the box as we plan for our future,” said Metra CEO and Executive Jim Derwinski. “We are excited to bring this technology and its efficiency, flexibility and reliability to Chicago and to our riders.” 

To fund this endeavor, Metra will be utilizing a $169.3 million federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant. Funds from the state PAYGO (Chicago's bond funds as gas tax revenue program) will pay for the grant’s required local match of 20 percent. 

Stadler will supply trainsets that will have low-level boarding and will be equipped with lifts, ensuring ADA-compliance. 

Each two-car set will seat 112 people and each additional trailer car will provide seating for about 46 people. The single-level sets will have open gangways, allowing riders to move freely from car to car. The trainsets will also include features like passenger information signs, bike racks, luggage racks and USB outlets. Half of the trailer cars, if purchased, would include ADA-accessible bathrooms.  

The trainset will be manufactured with a winter-ready design, ensuring it can withstand the severe winter conditions in Chicago, Ill. The features include efficient air conditioning technology, including underfloor heating in the boarding areas and special insulation and well-sealed machine rooms to protect the drive technology. 

“Our BEMU technology helps support transit agencies like Metra in their mission to bring state-of-the art green public transit to the U.S.," said Stadler U.S. CEO Martin Ritter. "We are excited to build these trains for the greater Chicago area and are looking forward to the partnership with Metra." 

“We think these trains will be an essential addition to our fleet,” Derwinski said. “Beyond the environmental and noise reduction benefits, they could also play a significant role in our vision to provide more frequent all-day service. We are excited to be working with Stadler and taking the lead on this technology.” 

A fully charged trainset is expected to have a range of 45 to 65 miles. Charging time will vary but going from a 20 percent charge to 80 percent – enough for the trainset to operate – is expected to take about 20 to 30 minutes. The exact charging infrastructure and its cost is yet to be determined. 

Utiliziung the BEMU rail vehicles would directly benefit the air quality in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago and in the near south suburbs.  

About the Author

Eman Abu-Khaled | Associate Editor

Eman Abu-Khaled is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelors in journalism. She works through Endeavor Business Media with Mass Transit as an associate editor. Abu-Khaled brings a fresh perspective to the visual side of journalism with an interest in video and photography work.