MARTA this week unveiled a preview of what Atlanta’s future heavy-rail transit will look like, just as the first new railcars in the agency’s fleet have started arriving on American soil.

After being manufactured in Hungary by veteran train-building company Stadler, MARTA’s first new railcar body arrived at Georgia’s Port of Brunswick on Dec. 12, before traveling to an unveiling party at MARTA’s South Yard on Friday.  

The railcar body is next heading to Salt Lake City, where Stadler will build out the new fleet to MARTA’s specifications and return assembled trains to Atlanta for service.

MARTA's new trains come in four-car sets, designed with open gangways to allow for easier movement from one car to the next. Courtesy of MARTA

Expect significant changes once the railcars roll out.

For starters, the new trains will come in four-car sets with open gangways, which means riders can pass between more than one car at once, making inter-car movement for passengers and security staff easier.

Charging stations, digital maps, computerized service information, and forward and inward-facing seats are also in the works. One goal for MARTA is to provide more room for bikes, strollers, luggage, and people in wheelchairs, per officials. 

According to MARTA, the front exteriors of railcars will have a lighted “smile” in either red, gold, blue, or green that denotes the color of each approaching rail line.

The look of a railcar in MARTA's new fleet arriving at a reimagined Five Points station, where a renovation costing more than $200 million is expected to be finished in 2028. Courtesy of MARTA

MARTA officials said this week the new railcars will be in service in 2025, which is later than initially projected.

Many of MARTA’s 300 current railcars date to the agency’s 1970s beginnings and are prone to breakdowns, agency leaders have said.

MARTA entered a contract in 2019 to purchase $646 million worth of modernized new railcars from Stadler—funded via MARTA’s capital improvement program—marking the largest procurement deal ever for both the train builder and transit agency.

MARTA launched an initiative last year called “Your Ride, You Decide” that let people vote on four exterior options for the new fleet.

The chosen exterior designs most closely resemble the conceptual scheme called “Minimalist: Option A”—if not even more minimalist than originally envisioned. Both Minimalist options floated by MARTA in 2021 were designed to evoke speed, officials said at the time.

Other concepts had ribbons, or motifs resembling The Very Hungry Caterpillar and an Eddie Van Halen guitar.  

Have a closer look at what's coming down the tracks in the gallery above. 

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