Image from WMATA.

On Thursday, the WMATA Board heard a report from staff on the procurement of the new 7000-series railcars. The Board decided to hold off approving the contract until it can decide on options for additional cars.

Of the three companies vying to produce up to 748 railcars for Metro, Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc. scored highest on both technical capability and price, beating out Alstom, which recently built the 6000-series and rehabilitated the 2000- and 3000-series, and Bombardier.

While staff is recommending Kawasaki be chosen, the WMATA Board postponed their decision until mid-April, in order to have more time to consider finances.

The base order is for 64 railcars needed to run service on the first phase of the Silver Line, to Tysons Corner and Wiehle Avenue. The order also carries four options:

  1. 64 cars for Silver Line phase II to Dulles/Loudoun
  2. 130 cars for 75% 8-car train operation
  3. Rehabilitation of the 4000-series (100 cars)
  4. 300 cars to replace the aging 1000-series.
  5. 90 cars for 100% 8-car train operation when added to option 2

WMATA staff is currently proposing that Metro only exercise the Base Order and Option 4. The purchase of these 364 cars would cost about $765 million.

Currently, the Base Order is funded with money that comes from the Silver Line project and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. WMATA is also considering how to fund Option 4 through lines of credit and bond issues.

By exercising Option 4 at the time the Base Order is awarded, WMATA would save $5 million. For that reason, the Board held off making the decision on Thursday until they can decide how to fund Option 4.

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 Dupont Circle. He’s a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and is an employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer.