The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) took the first step toward acquiring its next generation of railcars, building on the success of the popular and reliable 7000-series fleet, with the issuance of a Request for Proposals for the design and construction of hundreds of new 8000-series cars to be delivered starting in 2024.
WMATA plans to acquire at least 256 8000-series cars to allow for the retirement of the 2000- and 3000-series cars at the end of their 40-year service life. Options in the contract would allow WMATA to purchase "up to" 800 cars in all, giving the transit agency the flexibility to support a range of initiatives and scenarios, including expanding all trains to the maximum eight-car length, running trains more frequently during rush hours, and retiring the 6000-series fleet in lieu of a midlife overhaul program.
With the 8000-series procurement, WMATA is seeking to build on the success of its 7000-series cars, which account for more than half of all trains in service and include popular features such as digital information screens, automated announcements, "smart doors" that individually respond to an obstruction, high-definition security cameras, more space between seats, wider aisles, and non-slip flooring rather than carpet. The 7000-series cars currently travel an average of 156,000 miles before experiencing a delay due to a mechanical issue - more than double the reliability of WMATA's legacy fleet.
Like the 7000-series, the 8000-series car design will incorporate the most advanced safety technology available, and improve upon the customer experience with new features:
- New digital advertising screens to generate revenue and reduce labor costs associated with manually changing ads.
- Support for remote PA announcements from the Rail Operations Control Center, in addition to automated and train-operator announcements.
- Dynamic digital system maps, rather than today's paper maps.
- 110-volt power outlets for charging electronic devices.
- Additional hand holds Improvements to lighting, floor markings and signage for ADA space.
Proposals for the new railcars are due in late January, and WMATA expects to award the contract late next year.
Delivery of the 7000-series railcars is on schedule, with the 748th and final car expected to be delivered late next year.
The RFP document can be found here.