Train cars bring in SEPTA modern era

SEPTA’s Regional Rail customers got a chance to see, ride and even smell new Silverliner V trains this weekend, the latest in a series of customer service initiatives to upgrade the region’s busiest system.

The three new cars, which debuted on the Cynwyd line, are from a batch of 120 cars SEPTA purchased to replace 73 old cars for which repairs had become too pricey. The purchase — combined with wireless Internet hot spots at two Center City stations, real-time information on trains and the QuietRide initiative — is forging a new era, some say.

“We’re seeing, in stages here, a remake of the system. It’s being modernized,” Matt Mitchell of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers said. “It doesn’t have all the features we’re asking for, but it’s progress.”

The new cars are, however, about a year behind schedule and over budget due to communications problems with manufacturer Hyundai Rotem. By December, SEPTA expects to starts receiving nine new cars per month, and the most of the cars should be in service by next fall.

The new technology has to make up for stations that have not been renovated in decades. Meanwhile, the agency has spent money to upgrade stations on the Broad Street and the Market-Frankford lines.

“It’s been long neglected,” said SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey. “The people that use the Regional Rail, the chances are they have alternatives [for travelling]. We have to improve the product we put out there.”