On Tuesday, the first set of Metro-North Railroad's (MNR) new M-8 cars rolled out featuring the latest in rail technology and comfort.
In all, 380 new cars will replace a fleet that is well beyond its useful life and has been plagued with weather-related component failures this winter resulting in crowded trains and below normal on-time performance.
"These cars have successfully completed extensive, systematic tests. The many challenges that were revealed during intensive, real-world operations of the most complex rail car in North America on the continent's busiest rail corridor, have been resolved," said MNR President Howard Permut. "This testing took over one year to ensure that the M-8 will provide quality service for its 30-year life. We plan to put more of these cars into service as soon as they complete individual quality assurance testing."
The New Haven Line's 63,000 daily customers can expect 26 M-8 cars to be in service this spring. By the end of the year, about 80 M-8s will be in service. The roll out will continue at a rate of about 10 cars a month and will continue until all 380 cars are in service in the third quarter of 2013.
The initial 300-car order was placed with Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. in August 2006, at a cost of $761 million, shared 65 percent by the State of Connecticut and 35 percent paid by New York State's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
The contract contained two options for additional cars. The contract for the first 42-car option was signed Feb. 18, for $90 million. A second 38-car option was funded at $81 million on Feb. 24, by the Connecticut Bond Commission and with additional money from the MTA Capital Program.
That contract will be signed shortly. The average price per car is $2.23 million.