‘Lessons learned’ | New Maryland rail car factory could offer struggling Metro some relief
Credit: WUSA, Bruce Leshan
Hitachi Rail unveiled a new factory in Hagerstown, Maryland Tuesday that is slated to build hundreds of new 8000-series rail cars for Metro.
Looking for luck, Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD), Hitachi Rail officials, and Metro leaders filled in one eye on a Japanese daruma doll as they celebrated the new factory that will deliver as many as 800 new rail cars. Metro’s older 7000-series cars are still under investigation by the NTSB for a mysterious issue that can lead their wheels to spread apart and derail.
But the new cars will be built by Hitachi, not Kawasaki, and Metro says there’s no reason to think they’ll have the same problem.
“We’re going to take all the lessons learned for the 7000 and put those to work in the 8000, just like any transit agency does,” said Randy Clarke, Metro’s General Manager.
The $70-million Hagerstown factory is slated to start delivering new rail cars late in 2025. Metro’s already contracted for 256 of them, at a total cost of up to $2.2 billion.
The new cars will have onboard Wi-Fi, digital direction signs, heated floors, regenerative braking, better ventilation and hi-def security cams.
“These new cars, when they start coming in, people are going to say, ‘Wow, that’s first-class,'” said Rep. David Trone (D-MD).
Metro admits with a lot of its fleet still on the sidelines, it’s having trouble with delays and crowding, like after Monday night’s Capitals game.
“We understand a lot of our customers are frustrated with crowding going on right now. We’re doing everything we can to bring more 7000 series back into operation,” said Clarke.
He said he hopes to have more info on that later this week.