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Metra is upgrading 302 railcars with a bunch of new features

Written by
Jonathan Samples

Metra just finished up its first round of railcar improvements this month, but the commuter train service isn't wasting any time before kicking off the next phase of its multimillion dollar rehabilitation program. On Friday, Metra announced it would begin upgrading 302 railcars manufactured between 2002 and 2008 with a boatload of new passenger amenities. 

Each renovation will cost about $700,000 per railcar and includes the instillation of electrical outlets, new bathrooms and seats, better air conditioning systems, and necessary hardware components for the positive train control safety system. Newly rehabbed cars will also feature four new LED signs displaying station announcements and touch-sensitive outer doors that respond to contact with passengers or objects.

According to Metra, workers will renovate approximately 35 railcars each year between now and 2020. After that, an expanded railcar facility will be able to rehab about 60 cars a year. “We are extremely proud of this program and the workers who have made it such a huge success,” Metra CEO Don Orseno said in a news release. “Not only does it produce like-new railcars thanks to our highly skilled workers, but we keep jobs and investment right here in the Chicago area."

During the previous round of the program, 176 railcars manufactured by Amerail between 1995 and 1998 received similar upgrades. That phase of the project cost $115 million. Phase two will cost approximately $211 million and focus on 9- to 15-year-old cars that were manufactured by Nippon Sharyo. Metra said the improvements will extend the life of each railcar by 12 to 15 years.

Additionally, 41 Metra cars produced in 1974 will be upgraded as part of a separate rehab program. In all, Metra expects to renovate approximately 43 railcars in 2017.

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