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Rail News: Mechanical

MBTA OKs plan to replace Red Line fleet

Rendering of a new Red Line subway car
Photo – MBTA


The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's (MBTA) fiscal control board yesterday voted to order 120 additional Red Line cars from CRRC MA Corp.

The agency already has 132 units on order from the company, which is a local subsidiary of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. (CRRC). Those cars will replace the oldest units on the Red Line by 2022.

However, there were 84 cars requiring "extensive overhauls and upgrades" remaining in the Red Line fleet, MBTA officials said in a press release. Instead of repairing those cars, the fiscal control board approved the MBTA's suggestion to replace them with new cars, increasing the existing order by 120 with an option to purchase an additional 14.

The agency estimates that replacing the entire Red Line fleet and making minor speed code changes will boost capacity by 50 percent, raising the current number of trains per hour from 13 to 20.

The MBTA will spend up to $277 million for the procurement of the 120 cars.

The new cars will have the latest propulsion and braking systems, which will allow MBTA to achieve a three-minute headway. Furthermore, with a larger standardized fleet of new cars, the MBTA will be able to implement a lifecycle maintenance program to help reduce breakdowns and extend service life.

"The new approach with this decision was to ask the question, 'What are the actual needs of the customer and of the fleet for Red Line service?'" said Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. "The answer came back that one standardized fleet would increase the number of customers transported per hour by 30,000 and would make for more efficient maintenance."

The new cars are expected to last 30 years. Repairing the older units would have provided no more than 10 years of extra service life, said MBTA Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gonneville.

Under a 2014 contract, CRRC is building a new plant for the final assembly of the Red Line cars. Officials in September 2015 broke ground on that facility, which is expected to be completed in September 2017. Manufacturing will start in April 2018, according to the MBTA.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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