Metro Testing Rail Cars
Metrorail today launched a few new test cars that incorporate some of the design elements that could help save wear and tear on the trains and increase their capacity and comfort. That will be partly for you to decide.
Here's what to look for:
-- In rail cars 6104 and 6105, there's no carpet on the floors. Metro is testing a new, resilient material as flooring. It's supposed to last longer and be easier to clean. The transit authority says it will check the material every day to make sure it's holding up and also will get rider reaction.
These test cars also have stainless steel grab bars overhead. These should help out shorter commuters who have been complaining that the newest cars, the 6000 series don't have enough convenient places for standees to get a grip.
(In the 6000 series, Metro removed some of the poles from the ends of the cars to encourage people to move toward the center and away from the doors. I like the way the design of the 6000 series opens up the area at the front and rear, but I find that when these new trains get crowded, people just lean against the doors.)
-- In rail car 3283, you'll see the latest test of how a train of the future might be configured. Metro removed 16 seats and added two sets of leaning rests at one end of the car. There's bench seating along the sides in the middle of the car, something we often refer to as the New York City style of car design, except the NYC style is a flat bench, without the butt rests featured in the Metro configuration. This test car also has 15 of those overhead grab bars down the center and a three-handle, floor-to-ceiling pole at one end.
The idea here is to continue efforts to open up the cars, provide more standing room, more space for wheelchairs and more space for luggage, strollers and bikes. As in other car design tests, there are video cameras aboard to watch how passengers use this car.
This design gets at many of the most common complaints about crowding that I get from passengers, so it will be very interesting to hear your reaction. The test cars were on display this morning at Reagan National Airport Station. Metro said it would send them out into passenger service on the Yellow Line.
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