PALMDALE ( — The first of 78 light rail cars for use on the expanding Metro Rail system was unveiled this week in Palmdale, Metro officials announced Friday.

The new car, a Kinkisharyo P3010, is a highly advanced stainless steel vehicle with a 6-axle articulated design that seats 68 people and can operate on all of Metro’s existing light rail lines, Metro officials said.

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“This pilot car is the vanguard of our expanding rail fleet. It will undergo extensive testing over a period of months and the results will be passed on to Kinkisharyo for analysis before moving forward with Metro’s initial order of 78 production vehicles,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also serves on the board of Metro, in a statement.

The new rail cars, which are partially constructed in Japan, then finished in Kinkisharyo’s Palmdale facility. Metro initially ordered 78 rail cars, then decided to purchase 97 more, for a total cost of $739 million, money that was set aside by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax passed in 2008, officials said.

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An estimated workforce of 250 people will be hired in the Antelope Valley to meet Metro’s order, according to Metro.

The 78 cars in Metro’s base order are destined for the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa and the Metro Expo Line Phase II extension to Santa Monica, both of which are now under construction with an expected completion date of summer 2016. The additional cars will be used on the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Line and Metro Blue Line.

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“Kinkisharyo has an excellent on-time performance and the company has committed to delivering the first production unit by summer 2015,” Metro CEO Art Leahy said in a statement. “All 78 vehicles in the base order are scheduled to be in service by January of 2017.”