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WMATA to put first of new cars in service

With its rail-car manufacturers having apparently worked out "bugs" that delayed production nearly two months, Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority Aug. 20 announced that four cars were entering the final testing phase and the first two pairs of WMATA’s 192 Series 5000 rail cars would enter revenue service Aug. 23 at Greenbelt Metro Station.

WMATA officials requested manufacturers AAI/CAF — a teaming arrangement between Hunt Valley, Md.-based AAI Corp. and Madrid, Spain-based Construcciones Y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles — discontinue assembly while they and WMATA work out a quality assurance plan.

At the time, WMATA Chief Engineer Chuck Stanford in a prepared statement explained that eight computers controlled various functions in the cars, including propulsion, braking, AC components and doors. The software in at least six of these computers must communicate for the cars to operate properly, said Stanford, adding that just when some glitches had been worked out, others cropped up.

But the cars now are slated to operate on the Green Line from Greenbelt to Branch Avenue. By the end of 2002, WMATA expects all 192 cars to be in service.

The new cars will sometimes be operated "in the dark," said WMATA General Manager Richard White in an August news release. "If a customer sees these new cars with no lights on inside the cars and the doors kept closed, that means we are simply continuing to check the new cars’ reliability before they are added permanently to our fleet."

The cars will be added primarily to ease congestion on the system that has seen average weekday ridership expand to between 650,000 and 700,000 passenger trips.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/21/2001