MARTA signs historic agreement to purchase new rail cars

Frequent MARTA riders could soon see new rail cars in service.

The MARTA Board of Directors approved a $646 million agreement with Stadler Rail for the purchase of 254 new rail cars. MARTA could also order an additional 100 cars as needed.

This is the single largest purchase since the transportation system went operational. MARTA has acquired new rail cars three times before: once in 1979, 1985, and 2003.

“We have consistently exceeded our on-time performance target goal of 95 percent, but we know that the age of our current fleet contributes heavily to the delays we experience,” said Jeffrey Parker, General Manager, and CEO, MARTA. “About 65 percent of our delays are due to rail car reliability, and with rail transit being the cornerstone of our business, we aim to change that. The new fleet will reduce the number of unscheduled repairs associated with MARTA’s aging rail fleet, which ranges between 30 and 40 years old. A better customer experience, in turn, will increase ridership.”

The new rail cars will be modernized with new electronic signs, a public address system, video surveillance, and charging stations. It will have more comfortable seating and more handholds. There also are better accommodations for wheelchairs and a separate space for luggage.

“It is great to see MARTA putting their trust in our trains. This contract makes it clear that large U.S. railway operators are future-oriented and highly interested in efficient, comfortable and reliable vehicles for their riders. Stadler is here to provide exactly that,” said Martin Ritter, president, and CEO of Stadler US.

The new rail cars will also be met wither major capital improvements such as a new integrated operations center, new station audio-visual information upgrade, system-wide elevator and escalator upgrade, restroom modernization program and station rehabilitation program.

Delivery of the new rail cars will start in 2022 with a pilot car and then the cars will be rolled out mostly between 2023 and 2028.