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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority today showed off its pricey new “7000 Series” railcars, which will start replacing the system’s oldest vehicles by the end of the year. By 2018, the cars—-which will cost about $1.5 billion—-will make up more than half of WMATA’s fleet, which currently stands at 1,200 vehicles.

WMATA has 528 railcars on order from the Japan-based Kawasaki company and recently announced plans to purchase 200 more. The 7000 Series cars will replace all of Metro’s 40-year-old 1000 Series cars, as well as its 4000 Series cars. The new railcars will expand the fleet by 128 to help accommodate for the new Silver Line.

“For me, this is the event when Metro crossed into the 21st century,” D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said at the press conference today at the Greenbelt Metro station. Mayor Vince Gray, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Maryland sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, and Metro General Manager Richard Sarles were also in attendance.

The new cars have a blue and grey color scheme, no carpet, and vinyl-padded seats with more leg room and better lumbar support. The stainless steel cars also have an automated public announcement system, LCD map displays, and LED screens that provide up-to-date station information. They boast increased safety features and are built to meet “improved crashworthiness standards to absorb maximum energy in the event of a collision.”

The completed railcars will finish testing over the next few months before they go into use. When they do, they’ll operate in eight-car trains and will only be linked with other 7000 series railcars.

See photos of the new railcars below:


Photos by Perry Stein