Agreement hopes to bring new jobs to local DMV area
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, also known as Metro, recently announced a $2.2 billion agreement with Hitachi Rail Washington, LLC to provide the transit service with new rail cars. Hitachi Rail, a subsidiary of Toyko based multinational conglomerate Hitachi was awarded the contract with Metro to build 8000-series railcars in the U.S.
“We are excited about this critical investment in safe and reliable railcars and service for Metro customers, made possible through the region’s dedicated funding commitment,” stated Board of Directors Chair Paul C. Smedberg in a press release. “The capital investments we are making in our transit system also support our businesses, our environment, and our quality of life in the national capital region.”
The agreement will see Hitachi build an initial 256 cars to be added to Metro’s fleet, the deal also has options to build up to 800 cars. The 8000-series which Hitachi will build has been lauded as an improvement on the latest 7000-series of railcars which had been praised by Metro as the most reliable cars in the authority’s history. The base order of railcars would be used to replace Metro’s aging 2000 and 3000 series railcars which have been in service since the early 1980s.
The agreement between Metro and Hitachi includes language that stipulates manufacturing the railcars in the local Washington D.C./Maryland/Virginia. Currently there are no U.S. based manufacturers of railcars and Hitachi are exploring sites in the region and plans to establish an assembly plant for the railcars. The desired hope is that the reinvestment of the tax funds provided by the agreement back into the local area will result in direct and indirect local jobs.
Metro began the process of obtaining the new 8000-series of railcars back in September 2018 and hope to have the initial 256 cars on the rails by 2024.
The 8000-series is reported to have the best aspects of the 7000-series railcars which would include digital advertising screens, dynamic digital maps, 110v power outlets for charging devices, as well as improvements to lighting, floor markings, and signage. Metro had their final delivery of the 7000-series railcars in 2020 and will rely on the 8000-series going forward.
Hitachi already has railcars assembly plants on both coasts of the U.S. as well as manufacturing plants for signage in the Carolinas. Hitachi currently has agreements with transit systems in Baltimore, Honolulu, and Miami to build railcars for their transit systems.