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The 7000 series: Not your father's railcar

Metro will soon place an order for a new series of railcars. The new cars, the 7000 series, will be quite different from Metro's current fleet of cars.

Image from WMATA.

One notable difference with the cars is that they will be quad-sets. They will still be married pairs, like WMATA's current rolling stock, but instead of having a cab at each end of the pair, a cab will only be present at one end.

A second married pair facing the opposite direction will give the set of four a cab at each end. By eliminating cabs in half the cars, this configuration will give the cars more passenger capacity. A control panel will be located at the other end of each pair to facilitate movement in yards.

An additional difference is that the 7000 series will not be interoperable with any of the other series in the fleet. Because of this, Metro says that 7000 series trains will operate only in 8-car consists—two quad-sets coupled together.

The exterior of the cars will also differ significantly from the existing fleet. They will not have a brown stripe running along the side, nor will the front be brown. Instead, the cars will have a stainless steel exterior with a blue and white Metro logo. The front will have a dark gray color on the top half. Two destination signs will be located on the side of each car, up from the one present on each side of the current fleet.

Photo by the author.
The interior will not feature carpet. Instead, it is likely that the cars will use one of the rubberized floor-types currently being tested in the system. Instead of the current naugahyde material, seats may use a covering similar to the test materials currently being demonstrated on cars 6026 and 6027. Seat frames will be made of stainless steel.

Metro's plans call for seats to be able to be arranged in the current transverse arrangement, with most seats facing forward and backward, or in a longitudinal arrangement, with seats facing the center aisle. The transverse arrangement will hold 130 seats per pair, compared to 126 in the 6000 series, while the longitudinal setup will have 122 seats per pair.

7000-series transverse (left) and longitudinal (right) seating arrangements.

Another feature that Metro will be including are dynamic displays and LCD displays. This will allow Metro to show up-to-date information on rail cars. One new feature will be a display showing the train's position within the system. New York has had a system like this for a few years, and Chicago recently introduced it on their newest railcars.

New NYC Subway display. Photo by See-ming Lee.

Metro has the option to order 748 railcars over the life of the contract. Right now, staff is proposing that they order only 364 cars—64 for the Tysons Corner extension and 300 to replace the 1000 series.

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Heís a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer. 


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When these images were first released I remember somebody (Metro?) saying that the actual livery might change. Has the design in the mockups been made permeanent?

by Joshua Davis on Apr 26, 2010 2:07 pm • linkreport

I actually kind of like the current red/white/blue seat fabrics. What's wrong with the current setup?

by schmod on Apr 26, 2010 2:07 pm • linkreport

Here's my problem with the train seats:
1. People will complain about the longitudinal not having as much capacity as the transverse, but really losing 8 seats per pair (32 seats/train) isn't a big deal - especially considering the increase to standing room space.
2. You cannot carpet those seats! I am really happy they are finally on board w/rubber floors - but with carpeted seats, you just can't tell (did someone pee on it? put a wet umbrella on it?) until you sit in it. Oops.
3. The ARMRESTS. Oh my god, those need to go.

by ant on Apr 26, 2010 2:10 pm • linkreport

I believe that station dwell times are a problem that is developing into a crisis for Metro. It is tough to get people off/on the train quickly. The proposed design continues to nibble at the edges of the problem but ignores what seems to me to be an obvious solution: More and/or bigger doorways.

Am I the only one bugged by this?

by Joe on Apr 26, 2010 2:11 pm • linkreport

Actually, bigger doorways sound like a fantastic idea that would be easy to implement, although you'd lose a bit of window space.

Additionally, the dwell time issue could be dealt with by installing signage at the big transfer/tourist stations reminding customers to spread out along the platform, and not stand at the end of the platform while waiting for a 6-car train to arrive.

by andrew on Apr 26, 2010 2:14 pm • linkreport

Good point, ant. Longitudinal seating is only a net loss of 8 seats per married pair. It's also worth noting that the 7000 series would have more seats than the 6000 - 4 more per pair (due to the elimination of one of the cabs), so the net loss of seating is even smaller when compared to the 6000 series.

by Alex B. on Apr 26, 2010 2:17 pm • linkreport

The problem with the longitudinal arrangement is the jerky rides we currently have. I hope you enjoy leaning on your will be a domino effect all the way down the line on a crowded train. You may make a new friend...or enemy

I hate sitting sideways. ::barf::

by Matt Glazewski on Apr 26, 2010 2:20 pm • linkreport

@Matt Glazewski:
I hate having to wait on the next train because the one on the platform is full (at least full around the doors).

by Matt Johnson on Apr 26, 2010 2:22 pm • linkreport

@ant, on point #2, absolutely! I hate carpeted seats because you have no idea what human excreta are festering inside the foam. Granted, I've given up riding Metro anyway, so it's a moot point for me, but I still find the whole matter disgusting.

by Craig on Apr 26, 2010 2:23 pm • linkreport

Are they married pairs or married quads? As in, can you break up an 8-car train into 4 pairs?

If so, you could actually have 6-car trains. It would look like this (carrots have cabs facing the direction of the carrot, dashes don't have cabs): <-->->.

by Tim on Apr 26, 2010 2:25 pm • linkreport

I agree about the seat fabic. Its all fomites to begin with but anything absorbant just exacerbates the effect. Riders should be able to wipe off a non-absorbant seat prior to sitting if they feel the need.

by Bianchi on Apr 26, 2010 2:27 pm • linkreport

They are married pairs not married foursomes. They can operate as 2-car sets independently of each other. But at least 4 cars (two pairs, let's call it a double date) are needed for revenue service.

There should not be any technical hurdles to operating 6-car trains of the 7000-series, however, WMATA says they will not do so.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 26, 2010 2:29 pm • linkreport

@Matt J - yeah, that's a total pain, too. Are you saying the longitudinal arrangement will mitigate that problem?

@Craig - the carpet is kind-of gross, yes, but what most people forget is that the carpet dampens the noise of the rail screeches. Ride in one of the 6000-series cars with no carpet; it's noticeably louder, especially on those REALLY loud areas on the Green Line that make you put your fingers in your ears since it hurts (inbound after Southern Avenue, and after Georgia Ave/Petworth)

by Matt Glazewski on Apr 26, 2010 2:31 pm • linkreport

@Matt Glazewski

Longitudinal arrangement would definitely help - more space in-between the seats for people to get in and out means that more people will be willing to go to the center. Right now people crowd around the doors because they don't want to have to push through people to get out.

by MLD on Apr 26, 2010 2:35 pm • linkreport

Very excited about longitudinal seating - having seen it on the T in Boston, I am a big fan!

by Jason on Apr 26, 2010 2:41 pm • linkreport

I definitely like the longitudinal seating. It's always a pain to try and wake the guy who sat down next to you... I never understood the point of forcing you to disturb other passengers by climbing over people to get out of the seat. These new trains may make me consider riding Metrorail again.

by Adam L on Apr 26, 2010 2:52 pm • linkreport

Did they decide to lose the catchphrase "America's Metro?" I sure hope so.

by JTS on Apr 26, 2010 3:08 pm • linkreport

Yes, they seem to have lost "America's Metro", at least from the exterior of the cars.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 26, 2010 3:10 pm • linkreport

The longitudinal seating reminds me of the 4/5/6 in New York. Those things would get ultra crowded. Of course Metro's trains are wider, so you can pack even more people in them.

For peak times, I would prefer longitudinal seating as I'm not going to get a seat anyway -- and I may have more room on the train while standing... At a minimum, I probably won't have to wait for the n-th train to go by before I can squeeze on.

Considering the first part of the order is going for the silver line -- which will be a LONG commute out to IAD (eventually), I can't imagine them going with longitudinal seating as transverse allows for a much more comfortable ride (IMO).

by StuckinDC on Apr 26, 2010 3:15 pm • linkreport

Actually, it's extremely likely that the 7000-series trains will spend much of their first couple of months on the Green Line.

Since there will be enough 7000s for 8 8-car trains, and the Green Line currently operates with 7 8-car trains during rush hour, it seems like the 7ks will replace the 8-car trains on the Green Line initially.

The reason they'll start out on the Green Line is because they'll be being tested, commissioned, and repaired in the Greenbelt Yard to start out.

Over the long haul, they'll migrate to other lines, probably with a bias toward the Silver Line, since MWAA is paying for them.

Of course, since WMATA says they're not going to configure them as 6-car trains, unless they're going to run 100% 8-car operation 100% of the time on the Silver Line, the 7000-series would only be used during rush hour.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 26, 2010 3:20 pm • linkreport

@Adam L - exactly - although not having the arm rests would also allow you to kick your knees out to the side so that they could squeeze past (you know, when you're feeling really lazy)

@stuckindc but if the silver line is going to dulles, wont it be better to be longitudinal if people are going to have suitcases w/them?

by ant on Apr 26, 2010 3:21 pm • linkreport

I was on the 6026/27 recently and thought it was a vast improvement to the regular set. The floor seemed a lot cleaner and the aisle felt wider. Even that format seemed conducive to fitting more people into a car than the usual crowded at the doors/empty in the middle layout we all see.

But longitudinal will just make things a whole lot better.

What's the total (not just seated) capacity expected on a longitudinal v/s transverse configuration?

by HM on Apr 26, 2010 3:22 pm • linkreport


I think it will also depend on what maintenance facilities they decide to put in the new Ashburn yard once the second phase of the Silver Line is complete. If that's going to become the primary 7000 series shop, it would make sense to see more of them on Orange and Silver.

Also, if the 1000 series replacement happens, you'd likely see a lot more of them on the Red Line, too. If my memory serves, the Red Line used the most of the 1000 series cars before the policy of bellying them in the middle of trains.

by Alex B. on Apr 26, 2010 3:23 pm • linkreport

@Matt Glazewski: "I hate sitting sideways."

Then stand. There'll be a lot of room to do so.

by dcd on Apr 26, 2010 3:32 pm • linkreport

At last, the ugly brown stripe will be a thing of the past.

by BeyondDC on Apr 26, 2010 3:36 pm • linkreport

You don't like the brown stripe?

I always thought it integrated the cars into the stations. Blue really doesn't go with them.

by Neil Flanagan on Apr 26, 2010 3:42 pm • linkreport

The brown stripe gave it character. The plain steel is too spartan, and the brown matched the signage. High-concept design is giving way to utilitarianism, and it's a sad sight to behold. We're losing what made Metro unique.

All this red-white-and-blue patriot-porn is overkill. You know you're in America because of what makes this place special. It's not the colors of our flag, which can be found any number of places in the world.

If the seats are steel I hope they at least keep the padding. The point of the plastic was to take that futuristic shape that made riding Metro more of an experience than just hopping on a subway.

by Anonymous on Apr 26, 2010 3:44 pm • linkreport

@Neil Flanagan:
I concur. The brown stripe unifies the system's design elements. It is also unique to Metro.

Plus, for the first time ever, Metro will have rolling stock that doesn't match from the exterior.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 26, 2010 3:45 pm • linkreport

Fair point re: the brown striping, but how will the 7000 series look against all of the new silver line stations? I think that the solid steel look might work really well, personally.

+1 on being sick and tired of all the patriotism crap getting plastered on the trains.

by JTS on Apr 26, 2010 3:47 pm • linkreport

i'd like to have high-quality speakers installed so we can start playing some music -- different music depending on different times of the day, holidays, etc. and it could work like your iphone when a call comes in -- the audio/music dims a bit for the announcement and then rolls back up to 'full sound' -- which we'd keep relatively quiet for most days/occasions.

maybe introduce a bunch of new revenue possibilities, too.

i'm sure we could find something for the whole family to enjoy...

i also think we should reserve some of our public space for ads that are community-oriented/driven -- not just from big corporations. on the train, at the stations, at bus/streetcar stops (like Toronto does), etc. public meeting announcements, especially if they pertain at all to Metro.

by Peter Smith on Apr 26, 2010 3:52 pm • linkreport

i'd like to have high-quality speakers installed so we can start playing some music

No. There is enough audio pollution in the Metro. If you want music, you can put on headphones.

As for the stripe, I don't mind changes, but this looks like every other Kawasaki car out there. A little paint counldn't hurt. And about half of the silver line will go through the Weese-vintage stations.

This is a low-cost design issue that actually makes a big difference.

by Neil Flanagan on Apr 26, 2010 3:59 pm • linkreport

Having grown up using the NYC Subways, +1 for longitudinal - way better than the current setup on crowded trains. I am a bit tired of getting dirty looks when I try to get through the door crowd to stand in the empty aisle.

by Gooch on Apr 26, 2010 3:59 pm • linkreport

@Peter Smith: uh, no thanks. If I want music I'll bring my own. And the public interest advertising we already have. It's about getting tested for HIV, making sure your landlord doesn't discriminate against you and making sure you fill out the census.

by Michael Perkins on Apr 26, 2010 4:00 pm • linkreport

@Matt: I hate sitting sideways. ::barf::

Me too. Though backwards is worse. Luckily it hasn't been barf, literally, yet.

by Miriam on Apr 26, 2010 4:02 pm • linkreport

@Peter Smith

The last thing we need is elevator music playing on the speakers.

Not that it matters, but speaker quality isn't Metro's big acoustic issue - it's mic quality and mumbling operators. How many times are the station announcements muddled and incomprehensible, but the pre-recorded "step back! Doors closing!" can be heard clear as a bell? That tells me most of the speakers are fine, the problem with in-car audio lies elsewhere.

by Alex B. on Apr 26, 2010 4:03 pm • linkreport

I think Peter Smith was joking (about piped-in muzak)...

by Bianchi on Apr 26, 2010 4:04 pm • linkreport

Yeah, most standing room, less seats! What a great solution for dealing with overcrowded cars. Way better than that other option, you know, riding more trains. I am so happy that I will be standing even more often from downtown to Franconia-Springfield.

by Jasper on Apr 26, 2010 4:11 pm • linkreport

Just to be clear, the longitudinal seating is just an option. The current railcars can't have 100% longitudinal seating because there are equipment cabinets under some seats.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 26, 2010 4:13 pm • linkreport

I like the brown stripe (and brown M logo). It is characteristically Metro. It's nice to keep somethings the same, if for no other reason than nostalgia / novelty.

by Brady on Apr 26, 2010 4:15 pm • linkreport

You didn't mention the cost! And Matt, admit you'd love to buy just one car for yourself - you could turn it into a trailer home :)

And I wonder how costs are determined. I guess there are a few companies able to produce these cars, and this company won the bid? Would be interesting to see how the other bids differed.

Has Metro ever retired a car? Didn't I read once that some of New York's old cars were dumped in the ocean to help jump-start a coral reef? (no, not a joke) Maybe we can dump one into the Tidal Basin so scuba divers can jump off of a paddle boat to explore the hidden depths. And we could have a bubble aerator in the form of Ariel the Mermaid! (OK, now I'm joking)

by M.V. Jantzen on Apr 26, 2010 4:15 pm • linkreport

@Jasper - if not standing on a long train ride is THAT important to you then move into the city. Not every trade off is going to go in your favor.

by Jason on Apr 26, 2010 4:15 pm • linkreport

+1 for longitudinal seats. This will help a lot with dwell time in station. People can move in and out faster. If it's good enough for NYC and Boston's red line...

Also, for the love of god please no carpet anywhere. You should be able to hose down the interior of a subway car. Anything less is just gross.

by Nate T. on Apr 26, 2010 4:24 pm • linkreport

@M.V. Jantzen:
I discussed costs in a previous article (click "Place an order" in the first sentence) and WMATA has a powerpoint discussing some of the issues as well (click the top picture).

WMATA has indeed retired some cars.

  • 1029 was destroyed in an accident at Smithsonian in 1982.
  • 1077 was destroyed at Woodley Park in 2004.
  • 3191 was destroyed at Shady Grove in 1996.
  • 3252 was destroyed at Shady Grove in 1996 as well.
  • 1079 was destroyed at Fort Totten last year.
  • At least two 1000-series cars (numbers unknown) were destroyed in a collision in the West Falls Church yard in November.
  • Other cars from the Fort Totten crash may be totaled as well, I don't know.

Retirement of the entire 1000-series will be the first voluntary retirement for WMATA. Whether it's feasible to build fish habitats with them or not, I don't know. I suspect that the NYC redbirds were made of different materials.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 26, 2010 4:24 pm • linkreport

Add back the brown stripe, LOSE the cloth seats (nasty!), glad to see the nasty, moldy carpets GONE, and hurrah for longitudinal seats!!! That would make these about perfect IMHO.

by Glenn on Apr 26, 2010 4:36 pm • linkreport

What I've read about the NYC (and other)cars used as coral reefs is that the older cars work quite well, but the newer cars mostly stainless steel construction doesn't hold up well in a salt water environment. Although there is a possibility that bottom dragging fishing or anchors is to blame for some of the newer cars collapsing. At any rate, I wonder if WMATA could get a worthwhile amount of money for their scrap value.

by kinverson on Apr 26, 2010 4:43 pm • linkreport

Assuming it's a 300 series stainless steel, which I would expect because it's more corrosion resistant and cheaper (though less strong) than 400 series, it will pit like crazy in seawater, getting tiny holes all in it and corroding away quickly. I think aluminum or even carbon steel end up better off in seawater.

by Michael Perkins on Apr 26, 2010 5:09 pm • linkreport

I don't mind more standing room, but if they're going to put in longitudinal seats, they're going to have to put in more handholds that short people can reach. If the seats are longitudinal, you won't have seat backs for people standing in the aisles to hang on to or something for an in-aisle pole to attach to. (I never understood why there's not a pole attached to every seat back in the current cars anyway. Are there reasons other than cost?)

The horizontal bar near the ceiling is too high for people like me (5'2") to hang on to comfortably. I don't like playing the "can you keep your balance" game on a lurch-y train, and I'm sure no one wants a passenger clutching onto them for balance or falling into them when they lose their balance.

I assume that Metro doesn't like ceiling-to-floor poles because people cluster around them, but if they would spread them out along the length of a car with longitudinal seats, at least you would mitigate the clumping around the doors.

Straps that hang down from the horizontal ceiling bar are okay, too, but they should be the flexible plastic kind that can move along the length of the bar, not those stupid fixed metal ones that some cars have (which require you to be tall enough to pull one down from its "up" position -- kind of defeats the purpose). And the straps should be longer.

by Not Randy Newman on Apr 26, 2010 5:23 pm • linkreport

Meh, I was wrong. Aluminum would do no better than stainless

by Michael Perkins on Apr 26, 2010 5:27 pm • linkreport

I'm with Not Randy Newman. The design omissions/errors N.R.N. points out seem to ignore everyone <5'10".

by Bianchi on Apr 26, 2010 5:33 pm • linkreport

re: not randy newman
I think wmata officials should go on a business trip and ride subways in other cities. Somehow people big and small manage to ride the trains all day w/o falling down. I think they can make it work here too.

by ant on Apr 26, 2010 6:50 pm • linkreport

I have mixed feelings on longitudinal seats on one hand it will make more room for people standing but make seats less comfortable.

I agree with Not Rany Newman & Bianchi how will people that are not tall hold on unless there will be more poles through the cars; which in that case will have people bunched up against the poles instead of doors.

Also wouldnt mind more leg room for taller people

I would rather see a setting where one side of the car is longitudinal and the other side is not.

If they go with longitudinal seats than the seats on the end should have armrest so that people don't fall out the seats when the train is moving since there is nothing there due to the spaces in modern cars which removed that space for easier wheelchair access or the wall.

I can already see a child or senior falling out of the end seat and getting hurt.

by kk on Apr 26, 2010 7:42 pm • linkreport

@Matt: Not sure I agree that junked cars from wrecks count as "retirement." In any case: where do the money train cars come from? How about other non-revenue cars?

Re: using old 1000 cars for reefs

Scrap aluminum is worth 5 or 10 times more per pound than scrap carbon steel. Since it will corrode like crazy undersea, it seems like a lousy investment compared to recycling the old cars.

by DavidDuck on Apr 26, 2010 8:06 pm • linkreport

I didn't count other cars because they're still being used, even if not for passengers.
  • 1010, 1011, 1044, 1045 are now 8000-8003 and are the fare collection train
  • 1028 is the "feeler car"
  • 1076 was widowed (divorced?) at Woodley Park. I don't think it has a purpose at the moment.

by Matt Johnson on Apr 26, 2010 8:43 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perkins: I hadn't known that aluminum was any more or less likely to corrode underwater than stainless, but it makes sense. I've never heard of a stainless or aluminum ship.

@DavidDuck: Yes, I was thinking that the mostly aluminum construction of Metro cars would be worth a fair amount as scrap.

by kinverson on Apr 26, 2010 8:50 pm • linkreport


Was there a particular reason 1010,1011,1044,1045,1028 were removed from the passenger fleet (ie - damage)?

I wonder why WMATA went with the stainless "straps." The plastic straps seem to do the job better.

by DavidDuck on Apr 26, 2010 9:10 pm • linkreport

It is a sad statement about we expect from Metro that so many of the comments on this blog are in favor of "longitudinal" seating. When the NY subway was built do you think it was all longitudinal seating? No. Sitting sideways on a moving vehicles is uncomfortable and unpleasant and only acceptable as a way to deal with undercapacity. It is not a goal. We don't need uncomfortable seats designed only to maximize the crush load. We need real capacity. (In places where they have that, do they have "longitudinal seating"? No )

by egk on Apr 26, 2010 9:13 pm • linkreport

I think we have to factor in some behavioral concerns when talking about seating.

With either arrangement of seats, one has to deal with the people who sit on seats and put their backpacks/bags on adjacent seats because they don't want people to sit next to them. With the longitudal arrangements, it is less of a pain in the butt to get at these 'protected seats', and thus space is used more efficiently.

This doesn't fix the 'camp out' or 'I don't want to be next to another person' issue, but it lessens it. Only when people realize that it is public transportation and stop being so selfish or dainty will this be better addressed.

Also, with the longitudinal seating, it should reduce crowding near the doors (less of a physical bottleneck in the middle of the train car). As mentioned, the 'holding on to seat backs' issue (that shorter people have to deal with, primarily) can be addressed by having strap handles that shorter folk can reach.

Now, if only the trains were more frequent than every 20 minutes....

by ed on Apr 26, 2010 9:46 pm • linkreport

Since it seems that they will effectively be used in quad arrangements, why not embrace articulated 4-car sets? It would add quite a bit of standing capacity for the same length of train.

Also, another poster mentioned the trade-off between door width and windows. This isn't actually true. In europe, standard metro design includes doors which swing out then open so that the door is not held within the body of the train. This allows for thinner car walls, again slightly enhancing capacity. And doors won't supersede the presence of a window.

I don't understand why US subway designs fail to include these enhancements. It's not as if we're protecting a home-grown industry.

by Frank on Apr 26, 2010 11:47 pm • linkreport

They are married pairs not married foursomes. They can operate as 2-car sets independently of each other. But at least 4 cars (two pairs, let's call it a double date) are needed for revenue service.

Not exactly. Operating from the B car hostler control stand will be limited to 15 MPH. No ATP, no ATC.

There should not be any technical hurdles to operating 6-car trains of the 7000-series, however, WMATA says they will not do so.

This is the $64.00 question that I have been trying to get an answer to. The communication between all of the hardware and systems on the cars will be by way of an ethernet network. Some legacy control lines will be retained for redundancy and limited compatibility with existing fleet for rescue purposes.

There may be some limitations related to the pinouts on the B Car couplers that will not allow it to be coupled to A Car couplers preventing the operation of 6 car trains. I want to make it absolutely clear here, I don't know if this is true or not.

Front, rear and side elevations of 7000 and 1000 series A and B cars.

by Sand Box John on Apr 27, 2010 12:19 am • linkreport

As a wheelchair user I know Metro and most of the population would like for us to disappear (read Metro's filings in the court suit forcing them to install those raised bumpy tiles where we are considered an alternate, but not too expensive, way of greasing their wheels).
That's not going to happen. So where do I park my chair? Or do I have to roll back-and-forth like a pinball letting people on and off? And then run over them to get off.

by Wilhelm on Apr 27, 2010 10:38 am • linkreport


If you open the floorplan images (click on the image to open a PDF with the full size floorplans) you can see the wheelchair areas under both the transverse and longitudinal configurations. It's the same spot in both cases - on either side of the center door where there will be no seating against the wall.

by Alex B. on Apr 27, 2010 10:49 am • linkreport

+1 for longitudinal seating and no cloth or carpet. It works everywhere else. Seriously, who's thinking this stuff up... it's a subway car, not a car car.

by wd on Apr 27, 2010 11:15 am • linkreport

@Sand Box -- do you know if Ethernet-based train control has been done before?

Although I understand the desire to use commodity hardware where possible, Ethernet seems like an incredibly odd choice, especially given that the maximum defined length for an ethernet-over-copper run is 100m (an 8-car train is 183m). RS-422 is another "commodity" standard that allows for communications up to 1200m, and offers a considerably lower level of complexity.

Barring both of those choices, you'd think that a bus topology would make the most sense for use on a train.

by andrew on Apr 27, 2010 11:29 am • linkreport

One of Metro's major attractions has been that its cars did not look like the sterile boxes of other cities in the US. With this design, Metro has moved much more toward a utilitarian, alienating mode. In a word, ugly.

Metro's original designers carefully designed the interiors to attract not repel riders. Metro's staff doesn't seem to understand or care for the design elements that made it work so well. While earth tones are gone, at least for now, the idea that the cars should comfort both the eye and the body is going away fast. While there is much to laud in their electronics, signage -- if they work -- there is much that we have had that is lost.

by Carl Bergman on Apr 27, 2010 11:29 am • linkreport

One of Metro's major attractions has been that its cars did not look like the sterile boxes of other cities in the US. With this design, Metro has moved much more toward a utilitarian, alienating mode. In a word, ugly.

uhm, correct me if i'm wrong here, but isn't orange seating and not quite matching brown carpet HIDEOUSLY UGLY? i prefer sterile to 70s shag carpet throwbacks.

by ant on Apr 27, 2010 11:41 am • linkreport

@Alex B. That is the dumbest placement for wheelchairs yet. That area will always be occupied by people crowding around the door or with luggage.
The best arrangment right now is the one on some older cars that have a partition next to the door blocking off that little cubby hole. Its just not easy to find.
This new arrangment will require me to add even more time for a trip. Besides waiting as long as 1 1/2 hours for a bus with a working lift, soon I'll have to add at least 20 minutes for each train connection. How nice.

by Wilhelm on Apr 27, 2010 11:48 am • linkreport

re: egk:

"Sitting sideways on a moving vehicles is uncomfortable and unpleasant and only acceptable as a way to deal with undercapacity."

Maybe. I actually prefer the sideways seating on busses -- get a better view that way. And I prefer that kind of seating on subways too. I first used subways extensively in Tokyo and New York, so I suppose I just got used to it. The forward/backward seating seems kind of awkward to me in comparison. Appropriate for long train rides (Amtrak, JR, NJ Transit, etc.), but weird on a subway.

by Taeyoung on Apr 27, 2010 12:10 pm • linkreport

Has anyone ever tested the carpet and fabric seats in the existing cars for bacteria or virus strains?

by wd on Apr 27, 2010 12:46 pm • linkreport


Sitting sideways on buses is even worse! As if the jerky rides of late weren't bad enough on the train, buses most certainly jerk even more.

Has anyone else read "The Great Society Subway: a History of the Washington Metro?" Despite the title, the book highlights that the objective of what we have as metro rail today was not to make it as cookie-cutter as a "subway." In fact, I think nearly half of the stations are above-ground (~37 of them?). My point is that the metro was not designed to be a subway. It is a mixed above-below ground heavy rail rapid transit system. Subway stations have low ceilings in their stations, boxy non-descript rail cars, etc. Our system does not, and our system should continue to be something a 'step above' a subway system, when we can help it.

by Matt Glazewski on Apr 27, 2010 12:48 pm • linkreport

I'd support the idea of one side of the train having the current seating and the other side having longitudinal seating -- for those of us who are sensitive to motion sickness or have a condition which makes standing difficult/unpleasant, the current seating configuration is a lifesaver. And I agree that the proposed seat fabric gives me the creeps. At least with current material, you can see what you're sitting on.

by DC_Chica on Apr 27, 2010 1:14 pm • linkreport

@ Jason: My commute time is not the only consideration on where I live. Secondly, is it really too much to ask that one is able to sit in transit? I thought this was the capital of the richest nation on the world?

@ Carl Bergman: Metro's original designers carefully designed the interiors to attract not repel riders.

Don't worry. The design is not supposed to repel riders. That role has been taken over by the lack of service.

@ DC_China: those of us who are sensitive to motion sickness

All of those folks won't like a longitudinal arrangement.

But then again, who cares about getting motion sick, when there's no seating anyway?

by Jasper on Apr 27, 2010 1:48 pm • linkreport

How about clear, probably pre-recorded announcements of next station stops throughout the system? For every clear (and sometimes witty) announcement, there are about 10 that are barely intelligible, so mumbled that they sound like ex-Mayor-for-Life Barry on [name your substance]. If such announcements are barely audible and recognizable to us locals, imagine how difficult they are for tourists and other visitors (including non-English speakers) who are not familiar with the Metro system. Bring on clear, enunciated announcements!

by MetroTrainin' on Apr 27, 2010 1:57 pm • linkreport


The longitudinal seating arrangement would only have a whopping 4 fewer seats per married pair than the current 6000 series cars. That's only 2 seats per individual rail car.

The increase in standing room capacity is huge - for the cost of only losing 4 seats, that's an exchange well worth the cost.

by Alex B. on Apr 27, 2010 2:06 pm • linkreport

Re: Glazewski:

Sitting sideways on buses is even worse! As if the jerky rides of late weren't bad enough on the train, buses most certainly jerk even more.

Well, de gustibus, I suppose. I've never found the jerking particularly problematic -- no more problematic, certainly, than when I'm standing (which is not to say there isn't jerking, just that it doesn't bother me particularly). What I do know is I have a marked preference for the side seating, which I demonstrate essentially every time I get on a bus.

by Taeyoung on Apr 27, 2010 3:27 pm • linkreport

I've always preferred the sideways seats and have never had any real problem with the jerking. As has been said by others, it could just be that I got used to that arrangement. While I grew up in the DC area, I rode the New York Subway a lot more than the DC Metro when I was a kid, mainly because I'd ride the subway into the city whenever I was in Brooklyn visiting relatives whereas here our mom typically drove (due in part, when I was a little kid, to our living near Fairfax Hospital but the Orange Line ending at Ballston).

The thing I particularly dislike about the current seating arrangement (in both the forwards- and backwards-facing seats, although I will stand rather than sit facing backwards) is the lack of leg room. I hate riding with my knees jammed up against the back of the seat in front of me.

by Rich on Apr 27, 2010 6:00 pm • linkreport

Reviewing my copy of "Great Society Subway" -

When Metro was built, it needed to compete favorably with the private automobile. That's why, among other things, the seats are padded.

Just because it's unlikely now that DC's going to build a series of expressways doesn't mean that WMATA should stop adhering to the values that make Metro unique. Pad the damn seats!

by Chris on Apr 27, 2010 10:49 pm • linkreport


Do you know if Ethernet-based train control has been done before

No, however based on what I gather, the latest generation of NYCT rolling stock use a similar networking system for some functions on those cars.

Although I understand the desire to use commodity hardware where possible, Ethernet seems like an incredibly odd choice, especially given that the maximum defined length for an ethernet-over-copper run is 100m (an 8-car train is 183m). RS-422 is another "commodity" standard that allows for communications up to 1200m, and offers a considerably lower level of complexity.

Barring both of those choices, you'd think that a bus topology would make the most sense for use on a train.

Only guessing here. Star topology within a married pair, married pairs would communicate with one another over a bus.

Those that are debating longitudinal seating versus transverse seating, longitudinal seating is an option that is only being considered.

by Sand Box John on Apr 27, 2010 11:24 pm • linkreport

FYI - the 7k is designed as a cab/coach semi-permanently coupled pair. They can be arranged for service as 4, 6, or 8 car trains.

by railman on Apr 28, 2010 11:05 am • linkreport

Longitudinal seating makes the car easier to clean, and allows for better homeland security (a quick mirror under the longitudinal benches instead of checking each bench separately now).

New Yorkers have learned to deal with the starts and stops of the subway cars. Ride the #2 train (or better, the new cars on the N line) to see what might be in DC. Vertical poles attached to the longitudinal seats, as well as poles centered near the exits help those who cannot reach the horizontal poles near the ceiling. NYC places wheelchair/disabled areas next to the control cabs in the cars. So that means the front car, the two middle cars, and the back car (if running eight cars). If tourists get in the way, then shame them into moving. Or have the transit police who ride the trains issue a citation.

Get rid of the carpet and fabric. Hard plastic is easier to clean and more durable. If using the current seating, then remove the armrests. In New York, people tend to sit in those outside seats diagonally, to avoid bothering the person in the inside seat.

The R142 cars in service in New York are stainless steel. Stainless steel cars have been in use since 1964 (R32, which is still in service!). Since NYC is even more "salty" than DC, that should not be a concern for DC.

by Torsten Adair on Apr 28, 2010 11:16 am • linkreport

@Alex B:
Have another look at Matts' drawings:

There are a total of 5 rows of transverse seats between each door pair. The existing fleet has 6 rows of transverse seats between each door pair. total loss of transverse seats between door pairs, 8.

The reason why there's a reduction in number of transverse seats between the door pair is because the end door pairs are closer to the center of the car

by Sand Box John on May 2, 2010 10:10 pm • linkreport

Good catch, SBJ - I hadn't noticed the changed door alignment. I suppose that has two big consequences - one, over the length of a 8 car train on the platform, all of the doors will be more evenly spaced, instead of the current arrangement where the doors near the ends of cars are fairly close together. Two, those doors at the ends of the cars will have more useful space.

by Alex B. on May 2, 2010 10:38 pm • linkreport

@Alex B:
I learned of the relocation of the end door pairs very early on in the planning stages. I was told one of the reason for the relocation has to do with improving crash worthiness. As to having more useful space, the R ends of the cars gain 2 longitudinal seats compared to the 1 and 4k cars and 4 longitudinal seats compared to I think the remainder fleet. The F end of the B car will be mirror image of the R end of the car.

by Sand Box John on May 2, 2010 11:45 pm • linkreport

What WMATA really needs is strap hangers, the good old fashioned plastic ones, not those silly metal ones they are testing on some trains. The biggest pain is having no where to stand and some metal bar at the top to hold onto (I'm a short person). Strap hangers are they key.

by tokyosubway on May 10, 2010 6:08 pm • linkreport

Ugh, please do not get rid of the armrests! Without them people on the innermost seat take up as much room as possible and leave a bigger gap than they normally would between them and the wall. I avoid sitting on the end-of-the car seats without them because I know some idiot will force me to sit so I am only partly on the seat.

by Kara Harkins on Jun 22, 2010 8:37 am • linkreport

"The interior will not feature carpet." I see disaster: cars without carpet are _much_ louder; the floor will be slipperier (is that a word?); non-carpeted floors _immediately_ look dirty (carpet hides the initial grime); non-carpeted floors are harder and more difficult to stand on for extended periods;

by Matthew on Mar 8, 2011 12:17 am • linkreport

Do you even realize how dirty something cloth and/or carpeted gets?

by Kara Harkins on Mar 8, 2011 6:06 am • linkreport

I hate sitting onthe side seats sooo uncuntrible

by mikey on Jul 16, 2012 5:36 pm • linkreport

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