Congressmen Bob Brady and Donald Norcross and NJ State Senate President Steve Sweeney join the celebration as the first cars re-enter service in PATCO’s $194M fleet upgrade
Camden, NJ – U.S. Representatives Bob Brady (D., First District of Pennsylvania) and Donald Norcross (D., First District of New Jersey) and New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D., Third Legislative District) joined officials from the Delaware River Port Authority today to “turn the key” on the first six cars to re-enter service on PATCO’s High-Speed Line after extensive rehabilitation of the cars’ interiors and operating systems. All 120 of the cars in PATCO’s fleet will be upgraded over the course of the $194 million refurbishment.
“With the rehabilitation of PATCO’s train cars, as well as the installation of new tracks across the Ben Franklin Bridge, PATCO is showing its commitment to providing safe, efficient train service to the people of Pennsylvania and South Jersey,” said Ryan N. Boyer, chairman of the Delaware River Port Authority, PATCO’s parent agency.
The cars are being rehabilitated by Alstom Transport of Horning, New York. The improvements include the cars’ interiors (flip-up seating for wheelchairs and bicycles; new seats and slip-resistant floors; new lighting; new windows and HVAC systems) and exteriors and operating systems, including new braking systems that conserve energy by returning the power generated in braking to the cars’ power systems.
In addition, there have been significant upgrades to communications and security systems. The new public address system has external speakers so announcements made on a train can be heard on platforms. Also, train operators can access the public address system from their hand-held radios, so they can make announcements from wherever they are, including off the train if necessary. There will also be better messaging for passengers in stations, including real-time “next-train” information via the new video infotainment and advertising system.
“These new PATCO trains look great — but it's really about delivering the safest commute possible,” said Congressman Norcross. “As we see PATCO's silver cars pass by each day, we may take for granted all that goes into making these trains safe and secure. PATCO has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to safety, using life-saving Automatic Train Control (ATC) technology since the line debuted in 1969. These refurbished cars will use that technology and improve on it by incorporating fully tested, cutting-edge communications, braking and emergency systems to ensure the safest ride possible.”
The six refurbished cars will be joined by six more this summer; after that, four a month will go to Alstom for refurbishing, according to John Rink, PATCO’s general manager. “Now that Alstom has resolved the issues we encountered before we could approve the prototype cars, we’re moving into production mode,” Rink said. “We anticipate having the entire fleet refurbished within the next 18 months.”
John Hanson, CEO of the Delaware River Port Authority emphasized that the car rehabilitation project is just part of PATCO’s renewed commitment to the stewardship of the transportation assets entrusted to the DRPA. “We are working every day to provide safe and efficient service through the 21st century and beyond,” he said.
Combined, PATCO cars log about 4.3 million miles annually, running 24/7 on the 14.2-mile route between Lindenwold, NJ and Center City Philadelphia.