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Rail News: Passenger Rail

WMATA staff recommends Alstom for next rail-car order


Still facing complaints of overcrowding on its trains — and less than two weeks after revising from October 2001 to April 2003 the delivery schedule for 192 series 5000 rail cars ordered from CAF — Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s operations committee accepted the staff recommendation to award Alstom Transportation Inc. a $129.2 million contract to build 62 series 6000 rail cars, with an option for 120 more cars at a cost of $186 million.

WMATA plans to use the series 6000 cars on the Blue Line extension to Largo Town Center, and to help accommodate service growth. If exercised, the optional 120 cars would be divided for use on the Orange Line extension to Tysons Corner and projected service growth.

The agency ordered the 192 series 5000 cars from CAF in May 1998 and anticipated delivery of the first 26 cars by December 2000 in preparation for the March 2001 opening of Branch Avenue extension.

The cars, which are the first Spain-based CAF has built for a U.S. rail system, have been plagued with system propulsion and door problems. The first cars actually entered revenue service in August 2001; currently, only 36 are in use. The revised schedule calls for CAF to deliver all remaining cars by April 2003.

The delivery schedule for the series 6000 cars would not be as aggressive, says Steven Taubenkibel, WMATA spokesman. Prototypes of the cars would be delivered by November 2004 and enter service by the following June.

The full board is expected to take action on the recommendation June 20. A decision as to whether to exercise the option for the 120 additional cars would need to be made by September 2004.

Kathi Kube

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/23/2002