Ride Metro long enough and you’ll see plenty of non-passenger carrying vehicles on the rails, from The Pickle, to maintenance vehicles, to… The Money Train! Reader Sarah writes in with a question about what, exactly, that is.

A WMATA money train. Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

Sarah writes,

“I was waiting for a Silver, Orange, or Blue train at Federal Center SW around noon yesterday, and a no passenger train went through. The first car was very bizarre looking and I’m almost certain was #8003. What is this mystery car?”

Our Metro-expert-in-chief, Matt Johnson, had the answer.

Cars 8000, 8001, 8002, and 8003 (formerly 1010, 1011, 1044, and 1045) are the “money train” cars.

WMATA collects coins and bills from the ticket vending machines (TVMs) around the system using railcars modified for that purpose. Throughout the day, Metro employees escorted by MTPD officers use special carts to empty fare revenue from the TVMs and store the carts in rooms in the station until time to put them aboard the Money Train. The Money Train makes two sweeps through the system each weekday.

There are two pairs of Money Train cars. It is not clear to me whether they use both each day or whether they rotate them. Regardless, two Money Train cars are paired with two regular cars and run through the system as a 4-car train. The Money Train cars are used for the carts. The other cars are just backup power and to make sure the train doesn’t get caught in any third rail gaps longer than 150 feet.

The Money Train cars are specially modified in a few ways. First, they have extra tinted windows, making it nearly impossible to see inside. All seats have been removed to make way for the carts. The floors are also reinforced to hold the weight of the carts. They also apparently have shotgun racks for MTPD officers to defend the train as necessary. On the exterior of the train, the cars still have plastic mylar rollsigns (as opposed to flipdot (1000 & 4000) or LED (2/3000, 5000, 6000, 7000) signs on revenue cars).

These four cars will be the last 1000 cars running in the system for regular service, though without passengers. Metro’s plans call for replacing the Money Train cars with specially-built cars as part of the 8000-series order, which will likely be executed in the early 2020s. That order will replace the Money Train cars, the 2/3000 cars, and may be used to expand the fleet size beyond 50% 8-car operation.

Have a question? We regularly pose reader questions to the Greater Greater Washington contributors, and post appropriate parts of the discussion. Send us you questions by email to ask@ggwash.org. We can’t answer every question, but we’re most likely to answer fact-based informational questions like the one in this post!

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Aimee Custis is a transportation nerd and activist. Her writing represents her own views. When she's not writing about WMATA or curating the GGWash Flickr pool, you’ll find Aimee at home in Dupont Circle, or practicing her other love, wedding photography.