Federal and local representatives joined officials from the Delaware River Port Authority and Lindenwold, N.J.’s PATCO to “turn the key” on the first six railcars to re-enter service on PATCO’s High-Speed Line after extensive rehabilitation of the cars’ interiors and operating systems. All 120 of the cars in PATCO’s fleet will be upgraded over the course of the $194 million refurbishment.
The cars are being rehabilitated by Alstom Transport in Hornell, N.Y. The improvements include the cars’ interiors (flip-up seating for wheelchairs and bicycles; new seats and slip-resistant floors; new lighting; new windows and HVAC systems) and exteriors and operating systems, including new braking systems that conserve energy by returning the power generated in braking to the cars’ power systems.
Additionally, there have been significant upgrades to communications and security systems. The new public address system has external speakers so announcements made on a train can be heard on platforms. Also, train operators can access the public address system from their hand-held radios, so they can make announcements from wherever they are, including off the train if necessary. There will also be better messaging for passengers in stations, including real-time “next-train” information via the new video infotainment and advertising system.
The six refurbished cars will be joined by six more this summer; after that, four a month will go to Alstom for refurbishing, according to John Rink, PATCO’s GM.
“Now that Alstom has resolved the issues we encountered before we could approve the prototype cars, we’re moving into production mode,” Rink said. “We anticipate having the entire fleet refurbished within the next 18 months.”
Combined, PATCO cars log about 4.3 million miles annually, running 24/7 on the 14.2-mile route between Lindenwold, N.J. and Center City Philadelphia.