(The Center Square) — The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to replace its rail fleet, which officials say will eliminate many delays customers see.
MARTA’s board of directors signed off on the $646 million deal with Swiss-based Stadler Rail in November 2019. The deal for 56 four-car train sets — 224 total railcars — marked the largest procurement for either organization.
Stadler constructed the series CQ400 railcar bodies in Hungary and will finish outfitting them in Salt Lake City. MARTA transported a few railcar bodies to its South Yard in College Park near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for a Friday unveiling ceremony.
“The age of the fleet is a big contributing factor to many of the customer delays that we face,” MARTA General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood said during the ceremony.
“About 65% of the delays that our trains endure are related to age — aging doors, pneumatic systems, electrical systems, propulsion systems; all of these things take effort, time and investment,” Greenwood added. “…So this $646 million investment is intended to greatly reduce those types of delays.”
MARTA procured new rail cars in 1979-81, 1984-88 and 2000-05. The first of the new railcars is set to enter service in 2025, and MARTA’s deal with Stadler includes options for MARTA to order additional cars.
The agency has 340 cars in its heavy rail fleet.
MARTA’s $1.3 billion fiscal 2023 budget includes $587.6 million for operating expenses and more than $716.9 million for capital expenses. Its capital project spending in fiscal 2023 includes $56.5 million for the CQ400 railcars, the second largest capital expense behind $72 million for rail station rehabilitation.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor