Maryland commuter train riders will have more seats when the state adds 16 rail cars to its busy MARC lines. But the cars won't arrive until 2013.
The purchase was approved Wednesday in a 3-0 vote by Maryland's Board of Public Works. The board agreed to buy 54 new rail cars for $153 million from Bombardier Transit Corporation, a Quebec based firm. Thirty-eight of the cars will replace old ones in the fleet.
The new rail cars will allow 3,000 additional commuters to sit per trip, Maryland Transit Administration head Ralign Wells pointed out. The new cars will hold 127 to 142 passengers, up to 30 more than those in the fleet being replaced.
"MARC riders will be so relieved," said Gov. Martin O'Malley, who chairs the public works board, which also includes state Comptroller Peter Franchot and state Treasurer Nancy Kopp.
The governor noted that the state rail lines enable "people who work in the Washington area to live in Baltimore essentially at half the cost."
MTA administrator Wells said his agency has not yet determined how the new cars will be allocated among the three MARC lines. "Everyone will notice some improvement," Wells said. MARC runs two rail lines through Baltimore, the Camden and Penn lines, as well as the Brunswick Line to the west.
Each new rail car will have two levels for seating. And each will have four doors instead of two, a change that will reduce time spent at stops since riders will be able to enter and exit more efficiently, Wells said.
Wells said he expects the cars to be delivered "mid-2013." It can take years from order to delivery of new rail cars, but Wells said these are coming faster because Maryland is buying some that were initially ordered by the New Jersey Transit Administration.