The first group of PATCO cars slated for an overhaul began its journey to Hornell, N.Y., today. There, six cars will be tested, inspected and redesigned as a prototype for the rest of the cars.
Each car will make the 300-mile trip from Lindenwold, N.J. by over-the-road tractors for what PATCO General Manager Bob Box calls “fairly rigorous testing.”
The process began circa 2003 when a study by PATCO and the Delaware River Port Authority determined the cars are structurally stable enough to warrant an overhaul instead of a replacement. The redesign project is expected to take 18 to 24 months, and the entire project will go on for three additional years.
Hornell’s Alstom Transportation Inc. was granted the $194 million contract after a request for bids in 2009, and the deal was finalized last month. PATCO will have 100 cars in operation at a time (it’s got 121) — 16 more than is needed for its day-to-day commutes.
Alstrom is “basically gutting [the cars],” Box told NewsWorks today. The bodies will be saved, then outfitted with new brakes, floors, automatic train controls, seats and lighting and HVAC systems. Additional features will include enclosed operator cabs and improved customer communication like a flat screen messaging system. The number of seats will remain roughly the same, with some fold-up seating that’s wheelchair accessible.
Once the initial six cars are sent back to Lindenwold, PATCO will retest them before putting them back into the rotation.