Today Governor Charlie Baker, MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack, and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak introduced the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority‘s (MBTA) first new Orange Line train comprised of 6 brand new cars into regular service from Wellington Station.
The 6 new cars entering passenger service today are the first of 152 new Orange Line cars that will completely replace and expand the current Orange Line fleet (which is comprised of 120 cars), ensuring an additional 30,000 riders per day.
Governor Baker called the introduction of these new cars into service “an important milestone in our administration’s work to deliver a modern, reliable, and safe transportation system for riders. Over the next several years, the MBTA will significantly increase daily capacity across the Red and Orange Lines, giving people more options for getting where they need to go.”
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said the new cars “will provide Orange Line customers with a more comfortable and accessible ride, improving customer experience. We are excited to see these cars start to go into service, and our administration will continue working with the MBTA to make signal and infrastructure upgrades to support the new vehicles.”
Transportation Secretary Pollack noted that when the entire Orange Line fleet is replaced, “it will be able to carry more passengers per hour than ever before, there will be shorter times between trains, and customers will have more confidence that they can depend on public transportation system to get them where they need to go.”
MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said the new cars represented “tangible signs of progress towards building a better MBTA. They are just one of many projects that will improve service on the Orange Line. With nearly $2 billion of investments in the Red and Orange Line improvement program…we’re very excited for these first Orange Line cars to enter service so our customers can experience a more modern, more comfortable, more accessible, and more reliable ride.”
As part of MBTA’s $8 billion, 5-year capital investment plan, the Orange Line is being completely rebuilt. The Orange Line Improvement Program includes infrastructure improvements, signal upgrades, and the complete replacement of the Orange Line car fleet.
In 2014, the MBTA awarded CRRC MA Corporation a contract to design and manufacture 152 new Orange Line and 252 new Red Line subway cars (the FMCB approved the expanded procurement from 132 Red Line cars to 252 Red Line cars in December 2016), completely replacing and expanding both car fleets. Total value of the Red Line and Orange Line New Vehicle Procurement Program is about $1 billion.
The new Orange Line cars incorporate a variety of new features that improve reliability, maintainability, communications, safety, and comfort. They include more spacious interiors, LED lighting, automatic passenger counters, closed circuit cameras and video recording, and onboard diagnostics for operators and maintenance staff. The new vehicles also feature various accessibility improvements, including wider door openings, gap mitigation devices, additional passenger emergency intercoms, more handrails, 4 accessible access locations per car (2 more than current cars), and modern audio and visual passenger information.
When all new cars are in service and infrastructure projects have been completed, Orange Line headways (time between trains) will be reduced from 6 minutes to 4.5 minutes with an increase in capacity by almost 40 percent. The larger standardized fleet of entirely new cars will also allow the MBTA to implement a lifecycle maintenance program that will result in better maintained vehicles, fewer disabled trains and breakdowns that cause service disruptions, and an extended service life of at least thirty years.
Delivery of the new Orange Line cars is underway with all cars being assembled and tested at CRRC’s Rail Car Assembly Facility in Springfield, Massachusetts, before entering a testing phase at the Wellington Yard and Maintenance Facility. It is anticipated that the next brand new 6-car Orange Line train will enter service in the fall 2019 with new cars continuing to enter passenger service incrementally through 2022.
The MBTA is investing nearly $2 billion in the Red and Orange Line improvement program, which will completely replace the cars, replace the signal systems, and upgrade track and maintenance facilities for both lines. The MBTA is investing $350 million on the signal systems and $470 million for track and maintenance facility upgrades, and has made a number of investments along the Orange Line since 2015 including replacing third rail, replacing track, and signal work.