CHICAGO — Metra’s board of directors has approved the purchase of up to 500 new multilevel cars from Alstom, a purchase CEO and Executive Director James Derwinski calls “truly transformational.”
The Alstom Coradia cars, while compatible with the current fleet of gallery cars, will feature two entrance doors on each side, as opposed to the current single entrance; full seating rows on both upper and lower level;, near platform-level boarding (requiring only a single step up into the cars); full accessibility for all cars, including accessible restrooms; and enchanced heating and air conditioning systems which scrub the circulated air. A video of the car’s features is available here.
“We are finally modernizing one of the oldest fleets in the country and, in doing so, we will improve operations while elevating our passenger experience to an entirely new level,” Derwinski said in a press release. “It’s really part of our long-term plan to evolve and serve the changing needs of today’s commuters.
Metra says about 40% of its current 840-car fleet, while safe to operate, is rated in marginal or poor condition, and that the new cars will provide a noticeably smoother and quieter ride.
“Most people don’t realize that we are constantly making upgrades to tracks, bridges and our car servicing.” Bruce Marcheschi, chief operating officer/deputy executive director, said in the release. “But this is something that our passengers will immediately see, feel, and smell. This is a real game-changer for our riders.”
The initial order is for 200 cars, with the option to buy up to 300 more for a total of $1.8 billion. The cars are a customized version of the Coradia Duplex and will be built in Hornell, N.Y. The first car is expected to be delivered 42 months after the contract is finalized, with the rest of the order delivered over the next 2½ years.