HITACHI Rail Washington has been awarded a contract by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to design and build an initial batch of 256 8000-series metro cars. If all the options in the contract are exercised, a total of 800 cars will be supplied to WMATA worth up to $US 2.2bn.

WMATA selected Hitachi Rail as the preferred bidder for the contract on September 30 2020. The acquisition of the 8000-series trains will be funded using new dedicated revenue streams established by the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

“The new 8000-series cars will improve on the design and features of the new fleet of 7000-series cars, the most reliable in Metro’s history,” says WMATA. Kawasaki Heavy Industries supplied 748 7000-series cars between 2010 and 2019, which replaced 1000 and 4000-series trains.

The new trains are designed to be lighter, safer and more energy-efficient than 7000-series cars, and will have improved regenerative braking and ventilation, high-definition cameras and stringent cybersecurity. The trains will also have digital screens and real-time information, dynamic maps, electrical outlets for charging personal devices, and additional hand-holds for standing passengers.

Hitachi Rail will manufacture the car body structure, fit out the trains and carry out final assembly at a new plant it plans to build in the Washington area. The initial pre-series trains are expected to be delivered in 2024.

The base order will replace WMATA’s ageing 2000 and 3000-series trains, which have been in service since the early 1980s, and were designed to be "backward compatible" with the metro’s 1970s era design. The 2000 and 3000-series cars were manufactured by Italian firm Breda (now Hitachi Rail Italy). WMATA currently operates a combined fleet of 360 cars of these types.