Rail Photo of the Month: December 2016

Breda 4019

Breda 4019

Location: Addison Road Station, Seat Pleasant, MD
Operator of Vehicle: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Date of Photo: April 5, 2003

 

Yesterday, the about to be retired WMATA Orion V buses were featured in the bus photo of the month.  The rail photo of the month also comes from the DC area, but this time, the featured equipment’s era has already come to a partial end.  Last month, in response to a safety issue, WMATA began to “belly” its 4000 Series railcars in the middle of train consists.  In other words, the 4000 Series cars will no longer be used at the front or rear of trains.  Since the 1000 Series cars have been operating in this manner since 2009, this new policy means that the “original” look for the DC Metrorail will no longer be seen at the front or rear of trains.  No longer will we see flip dot destination signs, American flags, or decals commemorating Metro’s 25th anniversary at the front or rear of a train.  There will be no more trains featuring the “classic” interior color scheme with orange and yellow seats and sand colored walls as the lead or tail cars of a consist.  Instead, if you choose to ride at the railfan window at the front of the train, you’ll be guaranteed the newer interior scheme of burgundy, blue, and yellow seat cushions and cream colored walls.

Obviously, safety concerns are to be taken seriously, and I understand why the average Metrorail rider probably prefers the newer equipment over the old.  However, with the 1000 Series cars already relegated to the middle of consists, being able to sit at the railfan seat on a 4000 Series car was a last vestige of sorts of the Metro that I grew up with and that was very much a part of making me in to a transit enthusiast.  By comparison, the newer 7000 series cars lack a railfan seat entirely.  They may be the most unreliable cars in the fleet at this point, but the 4000 Series cars were the last link to the Metrorail I grew up with.  Not seeing them at the front of trains anymore will take some getting used to.

Although the 4000 Series cars will no longer be at the front or rear of trains, they aren’t being retired just yet.  After the 1000 Series cars are retired, the 4000 Series cars will be gradually retired as additional 7000 Series trains arrive.  Metro is attempting to have all 1000 Series and 4000 Series cars retired by the end of 2017.  Hopefully, a pair of 1000 Series cars will be saved for historic preservation purposes, though I don’t feel nearly as strongly about preserving a 4000 Series car.

For more photos of WMATA’s 4000 Series railcars, please click here.

 

WMATA’s Oldest Railcar Still Rolling Along

WMATA Rohr 1000, the lowest numbered car in the Metrorail fleet, at Silver Spring Station, September 14, 2016

WMATA Rohr 1000, the lowest numbered car in the Metrorail fleet, at Silver Spring Station, September 14, 2016

Yesterday, I happened to catch a ride on board WMATA Rohr car number 1001.  Although it isn’t the lowest numbered railcar in the fleet (that distinction goes to its mate, car 1000), it was the first to be delivered to WMATA and as far as I’m concerned, it is therefore the oldest car in the WMATA fleet.

Unfortunately, since 2009, the 1000 Series cars no longer operate at the ends of trains, so getting photos of the front end in the “usual style” is no longer possible without yard access.  However, I did have the opportunity to ride both 1000 and 1001 prior to this policy change and also have photos of them at the front of trains.

As I wrote back when the first Rohr car was shipped off to Baltimore for scrapping, to my knowledge, there are no plans to preserve any of the Rohr cars.  I doubt anyone on board the train with me yesterday knew about the significance of the train they were on, but it remains my hope that someone has the good sense to preserve the 1000-1001 pair as it makes up a significant piece of Washington, DC’s transit history.

Happy 40th Birthday to the DC Metrorail

WMATA Rohr 1000, the lowest numbered car in the Metrorail fleet

The Washington, DC Metro opened on this date in 1976, 40 years ago today.  Over the years, Metro was the first or among the first transit systems in the United States to accomplish several things, such as automated trains, carpeted floors on the trains, and a variable fare scheme.  In addition, the high arched concrete vaults have become a symbol of Washington’s architecture.  Over the past 40 years, the system has been built out past its originally planned 101 miles with extensions to Largo and Reston, and a further extension to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County is now under construction.  The new 7000 series cars that are now being delivered will bring about the retirement of the 1000, 4000, and 5000 series cars.  However, despite the changes in the offing, Metro has established itself as a critical part of the DC area’s transportation network.  With it’s use by resident Washingtonians and visiting tourists alike, it truly is America’s subway.  Happy birthday Metro and here’s to the next 40 years!

Who Wants to Preserve a Piece of DC Transit History?

Rohr 1000 Series car departing Grosvenor, April 10, 2000

As I wrote yesterday, the process of retiring and scrapping WMATA’s 40 year old 1000 Series railcars has started.  These cars were built by Rohr in the 1970s and have been carrying commuters and tourists alike since Metrorail opened on March 27, 1976.  They are my favorite WMATA rolling stock and I’ve known for some time that this event in their lives would arrive someday.

In the Washington Post story about the scrapping, Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel says “The 1Ks have served this region for four decades. . . . I think people will eventually look back on them the way people in other cities, with more mature transit systems, look back with delight on their historic rail cars.”  Unfortunately, Stessel is also quoted as saying that the agency has no plans to preserve any of the Rohrs.

Many transit agencies preserve retired equipment, perhaps most notably the New York City Transit Authority and Transport for London.  NYCTA operates a museum in an abandoned station in Brooklyn and runs some of the system’s retired trains several times a year.  The London Transport Museum is a major tourist attraction and features all sorts of buses and trains on static display.  The London museum also has an annex in Acton that houses more of the collection that is open to the public twice a year.  While this is the first time WMATA is retiring rail equipment, it has retired many buses over the years and preserves some of them in a historic fleet.  However, if Stessel’s vision that someday, Washingtonians look back fondly on the Rohrs is to be reality, the prospects are greatly improved if some of the cars are preserved.  Furthermore, scrapping an entire fleet of railcars is an irreversible decision that cannot be undone once all the cars are gone.

Thousands come out to ride the vintage train of 1930s equipment in New York City each December. Wouldn't it be great if WMATA could roll out the 1000 series for special occasions in the future, even after they are retired from regular service?

Thousands come out to ride the vintage train of 1930s equipment in New York City each December. Wouldn’t it be great if WMATA could roll out the 1000 series for special occasions in the future, even after they are retired from regular service?

I have spoken with some other transit fans in the DC area who are interested in seeing if there is some way that at least one pair of 1000 Series cars can be preserved.  Several ideas have been suggested for how to do this:

  1. Petition WMATA to consider keeping a pair or two for preservation purposes and run them on special occasions
  2. Work with a local museum (such as the National Capital Trolley Museum or the DMV Mass Transit Museum) to see if they can take the lead in working with WMATA to preserve a pair of 1000 Series cars (either as a part of their own collections or through some other sort of arrangement with WMATA)

There have been several threads and email discussions with preliminary thoughts on how to make this happen.  My idea is to try concentrating that discussion in a single place as people interested in this project come together, think of a strategy, and mobilize to make it happen.  It can be this website, or another if somewhere else makes more sense.

Do you have thoughts on either one of the ideas listed above, or a different suggestion?  Do you have a contact at WMATA, at one of the organizations listed above, or know of someone else who might be interested in this effort?  Do you have something else relevant to this conversation to add?  Might you be able to volunteer a bit of time here and there to help with this effort?  Do you know someone who might be interested in any of the previous questions with whom you could share this post?  Feel free to write a comment below, or e-mail me directly using this form.  I look forward to seeing what we can do with regards to this potential project!

The Beginning of the End for the WMATA 1000 Series

A few weeks ago, I was alerted to a photo that had been posted on Flickr of WMATA Rohr 1013 at a scrapyard in Baltimore.  In other words, the retirement of WMATA’s oldest cars, the 1000 Series, has started nearly 40 years after these cars first entered service.  About a week ago, the Washington Post wrote an article describing the scrapping process, and I’ll offer my thoughts about that tomorrow.  For this post, I just wanted to share a photo that I took of car 1013 back on January 20, 2005 at Farragut North.  At the time, I didn’t think there was a whole lot that was particularly noteworthy about the photo.  It is a pretty standard photo taken of a train that is about to leave the station with a decent view of the station platform and vault as well.  Who knew this railcar would be among the first to be dispatched to the “great train yard in the sky?”

WMATA Rohr 1013 at Farragut North
January 20, 2005

10 New DC Area Photos Added

Last night, a handful of photos were added from the DC area to the WMATA Metrorail 6000 Series, WMATA Metrobus New Flyer DE42LFA Buses, WMATA Metrobus New Flyer DE60LFA Buses, WMATA Metrobus New Flyer XDE40 Buses, and WMATA 1997 Orion V Buses galleries.  In addition, there is a new photo in the Amtrak AEM-7 locomotive gallery.