BEVERLY — New electrical outlets, bathrooms, seats and floors are among the improvements coming to 302 Metra rail cars.
The passenger cars slated for renovation are 9 to 15 years old. It costs about $700,000 to spruce up each car, compared to about $3.5 million to buy a new one, Metra said Friday.
Wheelchair lifts will be added to each refurbished car, along with outer doors that retract when they come in contact with a person or object. The air conditioning systems will be overhauled, and electronic signs will be installed to display station announcements and other information, Metra said.
All of the rail car renovation work will be done at Metra’s 49th Street Car Shop in Bronzeville, Metra said.
“Not only does it produce like-new rail cars thanks to our highly skilled workers, but we keep jobs and investment right here in the Chicago area," said Don Orseno, Metra's chief executive officer.
The agency said a 60-person crew that includes car men, electricians and sheet metal workers is assigned to each car. The renovation of each car made by Nippon Sharyo takes about 28 days.
The renovations are said to extend the life of each car by 12 to 15 years. Through 2020, about 35 rail cars per year will get the makeovers. Then the facility will be expanded to renovate 60 cars annually.
This year, 43 cars are expected to be renovated, include some work being done at Metra's KYD facility in West Pullman. About 41 cars that date to 1974 are being rehabbed there now, the agency said.
Metra also has two locomotive renovation programs, including one in-house. These efforts will result in the rehab of about 18 trains this year.
This is actually the second round of rail car renovations. The first effort involved 176 cars at a cost of $115 million. That program, begun in August 2010, was completed this month. It focused on cars that were 19 to 22 years old.
“We are extremely proud of this program and the workers who have made it such a huge success,” Orseno said.