Amtrak Giving 450 Cars A Makeover, Including New Seats And Restrooms

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — You know that old living room chair that’s seen better days? Amtrak has 450 train cars full of them.

But that will change soon. The passenger rail service is getting rid of thousands of existing seats. For cities on the northeast corridor, like Baltimore, it’s going to mean a ride makeover.

The 450 cars that travel the East Coast and Midwest are the backbone of Amtrak’s passenger service.

“These cars were the first cars that Amtrak bought,” says vice president Mark Yachmetz. “They were purchased between 1975 and 1978. So we’re running at 40 years plus on some of these cars.”

Besides new seating, restrooms will also be upgraded.

The last time the cars got a makeover was the 1990s. This one will cost $16 million.

“Which is actually a fairly modest amount for the product that we’re getting out of this refresh,” Yachmetz says.

To do it, cars are rotated in and out of service as quickly as possible.

The refresh is expected to last six years.

After that, “do we gut these down to bare metal to rebuild them, or do we go buy new?” Yachmetz asks.

Which makes the $16 million for this job look like small change, compared to the $4 to $6 million each a rebuild or new car would cost.

All cars undergoing the makeover should be ready by next summer.

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