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Metra OK buys 500 new wagons from Alstom

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After years of promising a multi-billion dollar overhaul, Metra will finally offer its passengers more fun-to-ride coaches.

The board of directors of commuter train systems on Wednesday unanimously approved the purchase of 500 new wagons from the French company Alstom Transportation. The initial order is for 200 coaches, with an option to purchase 300 additional cars. The acquisition is part of the Metras 2014 modernization plan.

This is something our passengers will see, feel and smell immediately. It is a real game-changer for our riders, said Bruce Marcheschi, COO and Deputy Executive Director of Metras, in a press release.

The cost of the first 200 coaches would be $ 845 million, or $ 4.23 million per car. Metra gets a break if they exercise the option to buy the next 300; they will cost $ 955 million, or about $ 3.18 million per car.

Interior of a former Metra coach.

The new Metras cars will be a big change for pilots accustomed to its outdated gallery cars.
Fran Spielman / Sun-Times

Alstom cars have low floors, more doors per side and an open design running the length of each car. Kevin McCann, Mechanical Director of Metras, said Metra wanted the most efficient passenger flow possible, opting for Alstom’s tiered cars, which offered more comfort, accessibility and safety than gallery cars. current obsolete files from Metras.

The cars will be ADA compliant, with elevators for wheelchair users. An improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will reduce the spread of airborne viruses. The new coaches will cost less to operate, McCann said, because they will require less maintenance than older cars.

A render of a promotional video showing the top tier of the new wagons purchased by Metra.

The new wagons that Metra buys from Alstom have a two-tier design; the upper level is closed, with no gallery open on the lower level.
Screenshot of the Metra video

For those of you who have ridden Metra Electric, think about the differences between our former Highliners and the current Highliners, McCann said. They will have a modern design and installation materials. It is a more reliable system.

According to Metra, around 40% of its 840-car fleet, while still safe to use, is rated in marginal or poor condition. Some of the cars still in service date from the Eisenhower era, said board member John Zediker.

While it may seem unusual in the pandemic to buy new cars, we have to realize that it won’t be like this forever, Zediker said. We still have to replace our fleet.

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