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Rail News: Passenger Rail

WMATA aims to get a grip on overhead handles


The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is continuing its quest to find the best overhead handle.

The authority recently began testing three different handle styles on its rail cars — two produced from nylon fabric and a third made of stainless steel. The handles hang down between 10 and 12 inches. Next month, authority officials expect to choose a model, which will be installed on about 300 cars by year's end.

Last year, WMATA installed spring-loaded stainless steel handles on 40 of its new 6000 series rail cars under a pilot program. When pulled down, the handles are eight inches lower than the existing ceiling-mounted grab bars, making it easier for shorter riders to grip. The agency expects to install the handles on its entire 6000 series fleet by year's end.