WASHINGTON - Inside a sprawling, nondescript garage in Landover, Metro has given a glimpse of its future.
As the garage door was raised, the lights blinked on a mock-up of Metro's newly- designed rail car, wrapped in a red ribbon with a bow.
Richard Sarles, Metro's general manager, says the new 7000-series cars, built in Nebraska by the Japanese company Kawasaki, will provide a new level of safety.
"In terms of crash energy management, it is the latest design for that in transit cars," Sarles says.
Maryland Senator Ben Cardin says the new cars will address problems with the older series cited for structural deficiencies in the 2009 accident on the Red Line.
"These are much safer vehicles not only from the point of view of crash resistance, but also the way people get into the trains and get out of the trains and the way they sit in the trains," Cardin says.
Metro has ordered 428 of the new rail cars at a cost of $1.5 billion. Three hundred new cars will replace the older 1000-series cars involved in the Red Line accident. When the order is complete, Metro will have an additional 128 cars in its fleet.
Inside the stainless steel cars, Metro's brown interior is gone, replaced by a new color scheme favored by customer research.
"In the blue-grey category of color, they felt that it was relaxing and kind of soothing," says Barbara Richardson, Metro's chief of staff.
The new car includes two more seats, more standing room and nearly 25 percent more hand rails than current Metro cars.
The first cars are expected to enter service on Metro's Silver Line in 2014.
WTOP's Dick Uliano contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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