Baltimore Subway gets first new railcars in 40 years

Baltimore Subway gets first new railcars in 40 years Image credit: MDOT MTA

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) unveiled the first of 78 Hitachi railcars that will replace current fleet of 100 railcars on the 15.4-mile Metro SubwayLink, which opened in 1983 and is Baltimore’s lone heavy rail subway line operating with all original railcars since. 

The MTA will introduce the railcars in a phased approach, with six entering service by the end of 2024 and the full overhaul complete by the end of 2026, according to the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board’s short-term improvement plan.

The MTA will use the two newly arrived railcars to conduct tests over the course of the next several months as the rest of the shipment continue to arrive. The agency has already begun retiring some of the original railcars, and said that 78 cars would be “sufficient to provide the same level of service for our Metro line.” The remaining cars will be used to expand service.

The cars can hit speeds up to 70 mph and feature new AC induction traction motors for higher reliability and reduced maintenance compared to our current motors. The new motors will generate electricity during braking, powering the trains’ climate controls, on-board video surveillance system and more, and funneling excess generated power back into the system.

The state’s draft Consolidated Transportation Program — Maryland’s six-year list of transportation capital projects — says the railcar overhaul has a price tag of roughly $544 million, the majority of which comes from Federal Transit Administration grants. The state’s Transportation Trust Fund covered the rest of the cost.

Metro logged more than 700,000 rides in the first half of 2023. Before 2018, ridership often exceeded that number each month alone. Though subway ridership has plummeted from pre-pandemic levels, the new rail cars will be a welcome change for the many riders who use the rail line to commute between Owings Mills and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Source: MDOT MTA