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MTA may spend $4B to modernize its aging subway fleet

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The much-heralded open-gangway subway cars are part of this order

Courtesy of Scott Lynch

The MTA is very close to signing a deal that will thoroughly modernize its aging fleet of subway cars, part of the ongoing headache for the agency. Though the agency’s board has yet to approve the deal, the MTA is planning to spend $4 billion to acquire this large, new set of train cars, the New York Times reports.

The MTA is looking hire the Japanese firm, Kawasaki, to build these cars, and the manufacturer will do so at its facility in Yonkers, New York, and Lincoln, Nebraska, if it is officially awarded the contract.

These 1,612 new train cars will become available in three phases. At first, the MTA will spend $1.45 billion to purchase 535 cars, and then buy more depending on how the first order performs.

This first order of cars (known as R211) will replace the fleet of R46 cars that run on the A, C, F, and R lines, and some shuttle trains; and the entire fleet of trains that run on the Staten Island Railway. Some of the new additions to these trains will include brighter lighting, a new color scheme, and eight digital screens in each car that will display train information and also be used for advertising.

What’s more, the trains will be fitted with monitoring systems that will relay information about the train in real time, an improvement over the existing system, when the train can only be properly examined at the rail yards. The manufacturer, Kawasaki, will also be on the hook, if the train’s brakes or doors start malfunctioning before a certain time period.

Part of this train order are the much talked about open-gangway cars. The MTA debuted a prototype of this car amid much fanfare in December last year. Initially, the agency is planning to order 20 trains for this model. The open-gangway trains will comprise of two sets of five-car trains, which will have completely open pathways in each section. If the train performs well, the rest of the order might all be open-gangway cars.

Overall, these new trains will fit 55 more people than existing trains, for a total of 1,785 people. The MTA Board is scheduled to vote on this order later this month, and if that goes through, the first set of train cars will arrive in 2020.