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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Hitachi Rail lands contract for DC Metro railcars

Hitachi Rail lands contract for DC Metro railcars

By | October 6, 2020

Deal could include up to 800 cars, have total value of $1 billion

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WMATA/DC Metro logo in black and white.

DC Metro has selected Hitachi Rail to build its next generation of railcars, ending a two-year search for a manufacturer. The Washington Post reports Metro officials sent Hitachi a notice of intent to award the contract — for 256 cars, with options that could boost the total order to 800 — on Sept. 30. If all options are exercised the contract could be $1 billion. The 8000-series cars will replace the two oldest sets of cars in the Metrorail fleet, which date to the 1980s.

The contract raises the prospect that Hitachi will build a plant in the DC region to build the cars, since Metro had told potential bidders that would have to spend at least 8% of the contract in the region, and asked for a “detailed narrative” of how they would provide economic benefits to the area [see “DC Metro asks carbuilders to consider a local factory,” Trains News Wire, April 22, 2019].

To a degree, the order will represent a return to the roots of Metro’s car fleet. The Post reports three of the heavy rail system’s first four car orders were built by Italy’s Breda, which was purchased by Hitachi and is now Hitachi Rail Italy.

China’s CRRC had pursued the order, but legislation passed and signed in 2019 specifically prohibited Metro from doing business with CRRC, the world’s largest rail manufacturer [see “Final version of defense bill would include, but delay, ban on Chinese transit builders,” News Wire, Dec. 11, 2019]. Legislators and a lobbying group, the Rail Security Alliance, have raised questions over cybersecurity issues with the Chinese firm, as well as the prospect it can underbid other companies because of subsidies from the Chinese government. CRRC has disputed both claims.

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