Metro considers design that would allow passengers to move between rail cars

Metro riders might be able to move freely between rail cars when the new 8000 series trains are introduced into Metro’s fleet.

WMATA General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke said during Thursday’s Board of Directors meeting the transit agency is considering an “open gangway” design for its next generation of rail cars.

From left to right, pictures of open gangway rail cars in London, Toronto and Paris were shown during Metro’s Board of Directors meeting Thursday. (Courtesy WMATA)

The design eliminates doors in between rail cars, allowing passengers to move up and down the entire length of the train.

“There are significant advantages to an open gangway design, that’s why it’s kind of a world class model,” Clarke said. “Specifically around safety and accessibility, and providing a little bit more space inside of the vehicle.”

He said it’s changed its approach to allowing bicycles on the rail system, and more and more bikes are being brought onto trains. The Silver Line Extension to Dulles International Airport opened in November, and Clarke said that’s factoring into how new trains are designed.

“We also connect to two airports now, and Union Station, which is an incredible rail hub, so we want to think about luggage and also strollers and other types of carts, just the way people live their life,” Clarke said.

Metro will be looking for feedback from riders before choosing a final design. Clarke said the transit agency will be rolling out surveys online and through social media, as well as scheduling in-person events to get thoughts from passengers.

He also told the board New York is testing two different open gangway concepts, and Atlanta’s next batch of trains will also use a similar open design.

“What is the best in the industry? And sometimes if someone is doing something better, it’s OK to cut and paste,” Clarke said. “It’s an exciting way to really think through what we’re going to start classifying as the fleet of the future, because that’s what the 8Ks really are for Metro long term.”

The new line of cars will be built by Hitachi Rail in a new, $70 million “state-of-the-art” factory in Washington County, Maryland. Metro announced the contract, worth up to $2.2 billion, in March of 2021.

Hitachi’s first order at the plant will be to build at least 256 new cars, with the option of up to 800 this decade.

Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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