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July 31, 2006

WMATA 6000 Series Railcar Preview

This morning WMATA invited the press and public to preview its new 6000 Series rail cars and I went for a look-see during my lunch break. While I wasn't allowed to board even though the train sat on the tracks empty and unmoving, I managed to check out the new cars from the outside and I even made a Flickr set of my photos.

A few items of note from my outside the glass viewing:

  • First off, the seating configuration doesn't seem all that radical or different from the current railcar configuration. The car center is still filled with forward/backward facing seats, though it was my impression they were closer together than on the other cars.

    Take a close look and tell me what you think. Is Metrorail going with airline-close seating?

  • Next up, there were some interesting changes near the doors. The most radical was bench seating along one wall of car 6001.

    This should open up much more space for people to stand near the doorways, and I think a marked improvement. I'm all for bench seating along one wall between the two middle doors on all Metrorail cars.

    Also, the plastic windscreens are gone, opening up the visual space near the doors.

  • Then handrails were extended throughout the cars in new and different ways. There is more vertical railing-to-seatbacks, railing on the walls around advertisements, seat back railing, and ceiling railing.

    Car 6002 even had curved ceiling railing, a first on any railcar I've seen worldwide.

  • Car 6002 also had ceiling-mounted video cameras, perfect for more Big Brother 9/11 Paranoia people-watching.

    I think a better use would be to single out those who crowd doors or fail to move to the center of the car, preferably with a large spotlight or vaporizing laser.

Last but not least, even though I couldn't actually enter the cars, I did note they have that magical new car smell. Hopefully, we'll be smelling it soon!

Series 6000 Update!: WMATA just announced that the Federal Transit Administration and Metro signed a $173.3 million agreement, where the Feds will commit $104 million to buy these 6000 series rail cars to expand eight-car trains to 20 percent of Metrorails operations.

Post Author: wayan | 02:19 PM | Link | TrackBacks

WMATA has posted its own series of photographs of the new railcars, taken in what looks to be the Rhode Island Avenue rail yard.

Also, in that press release, they mention "spring-type handholds" which means we'll get to be strapholders soon!

Posted by: wayan at July 31, 2006 06:02 PM

I believe the cameras aren't for security, but so WMATA can observe passenger movements to study the effects these layout changes have on efficiency.

Posted by: BeyondDC at August 1, 2006 12:07 PM

BeyondDC is absolutely right. The test is not to see if the cars can hold more people, that's common sense. Rather it's to see if the cars with fewer seats can cut dwell times. There are recurring delays during peak hours because it is simply impossible to maintain dwell times at the busiest stations. The idea is that if the new layout can cut dwell times, not only would removing seats increase capacity but it would improve timeliness.

Posted by: Dharm Guruswamy at August 1, 2006 07:44 PM
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