Metra Upgrades Passenger Cars

Upgrading each car is expected to take 36 days

Metra is recharging its fleet by adding outlets for passengers to recharge phones and laptops, among other improvements, the agency announced Tuesday.

The upgrades are also set to include new LED signs in the cars, new wheelchair lifts, new seats, composite floors, and new bathrooms, Metra said in a release. New sensors on doors are also being installed which will retract the doors if a person or object is in the way of a closing door.

"We're getting like-new cars for a fraction of the cost of new ones, giving our riders some nice improvements and amenities and keeping 60 jobs in Chicago," said Alex Clifford, Metra Executive Director and CEO.

A total of 176 cars, originally manufactured between 1995 and 1998, are scheduled to be refurbished, the agency said.. Metra expects the upgrades will increase the useful life of the cars by 12 to 15 years.

Each car is expected to cost around $650,000 to upgrade, for a total cost of $115 million for the whole project, Metra said.

Behind the scenes, Metra workers are also replacing the batteries, air conditioning, wheel assemblies, and event recorders.

Each car takes about 36 days to upgrade. Metra said its workshop can handle four cars at a time.

Forty cars have already been upgraded, with 60 expected to be completed by the end of the year. Metra expects the entire project to be complete by 2016.

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