First of the new Orange Line cars arrive in South Boston

Orange Line car offloaded in South Boston's Conley Terminal

Photo by MBTA.

The MBTA reports the first four new Orange Line cars from Chinese manufacturer CRRC arrived in South Boston this morning, from where they will be transported to the Orange Line maintenance facility in Wellington for a year of testing and shakedown runs before they are put in service.

These cars were built in China. The remaining 148 cars will be assembled from Chinese components in a plant in Springfield and delivered, four every month if everything goes according to schedule, through 2022. The Springfield plant will also assemble new Red Line cars.

What the new cars will look like when not covered in plastic.

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Comments

A year from now at a ribbon

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A year from now at a ribbon cutting Gov Baker will ride the T for the second time ever and think, "wow these trains appear functional and clean. I dunno what everyone is complaining about".

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He will be accompanied by

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He will be accompanied by Mayor Martin Walsh riding the T for the first time ever and think the same thing.

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Don't worry

They are going to pay T workers to fart and spill soda in the cars for the next 12 months to help passengers make the transition from the old cars as minimally traumatic as possible.

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You win!

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You win!

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Farts

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When the T started receiving the New Flyer Excelsior (14xx, 15xx series) buses, I got one at Haymarket. Since it was packed, I was talking to the driver and I said "oh this bus has that new car smell" and she replied "yeah it went into service a few days ago. But give it time between the BO, farts, and weed, it'll smell up in no time"

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Hey

the job is incomplete unless they also stuff every crevice with ripped-up scratch tickets.

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Serious question

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Does it really take a YEAR of testing to be sure they are ready to go for real? Do they have to test it in every kind of weather or something?

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One only has to look at past examples

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where T vehicles were placed into service - cough - Boeing LRV - cough - Breda Type 8 - cough - with almost no pre-testing to see the pitfalls of that approach.

Provided the scheduled testing isn't just limited to the newly rebuilt express track between Community and Wellington, IMO, a year does not seem unreasonable to do comprehensive testing of these units.

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I wonder

Is it just these first cars that are getting super-extensive testing, and the rest will get a more normal amount? That would make sense to me

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In procurement and delivery of such equipment

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it is usually standard practice that the initial vehicles (generally referred to as prototypes) will undergo the most rigorous testing, with the intent that any flaws, issues, improvements, etc. discovered can be rectified while the other vehicles are being built.

The fact that the T plans to allow a testing phase of one year for these cars tells me that (hopefully) management is serious about working out any potential bugs before the majority of the remaining order is constructed and delivered.

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Really

Seems to me a wiser strategy would have been to procure vehicles with a proven track record of performance. Think about - we have a public trans system bordering on total collapse from mismanagement, leadership issues, poor maintenance practices, lack of a coherent long term business plan, etc., etc.

So what do our leaders do - buy new, untested, vehicles - the perfect ingredients for failure.

This Kabuki Opera reminds me of the time GenRad (a test equipment company I worked at years ago) single sourced an critical large scale IC (for their largest and most important automated test system) from a Canadian company that had never produced it before - a completely untested component - predictably it failed repeatedly eventually leading to DEC (their largest customer) to cancel their order for dozens upon dozens of 6 figure ($) units - this was the beginning of the end of one of Massachusetts oldest and respected high tech companies.

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Not Possible

There are no off-the-shelf subway cars that would work on Boston's system. There were bids from established (Canadian & German) companies but at almost double the price and it's entirely possible they'd suffer from problems as the designs would be new regardless.

When it comes to other vehicles (buses, Silver Line) it would behoove the Commonwealth to stick with stock models used nationality.

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Yeah, "well-established

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Yeah, "well-established company" is no bar to the MBTA getting a pile of turds for a train design. Back in the early 2000s the MBTA ordered new Green Line trains from a premier European manufacturer, Breda. They promptly fell off the tracks when they traveled at anything faster than a snail's pace.

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This is standard operating procedure

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They did the same thing with the Siemens built Blue Line cars. Hitachi is rolling out high speed trains in England that are undergoing the same length of testing.

The problem comes during the testing period. If these are crap trains, it should come up during this period.

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Serious Answers: Yes and Yes

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Does it really take a YEAR of testing to be sure they are ready to go for real? Do they have to test it in every kind of weather or something?

When a new passenger airplane is designed -- say by Boeing, Airbus or Embraer -- it under goes (typically) 18 months of testing of 4 to 6 individual airframes.

It's logical that a surface transit vehicle would have to meet similar standards.

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Boeing built the LRVs

They must not have been planes or rocket science ... more like agribusiness and fertilizer.

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Considering that every kind

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Considering that every kind of weather seems to render our current trainsets unusable, each kind of weather doing so in a new and exciting way, ...yes.

Also see what's going right now out in Washington with Amtrak. Testing these things extensively is a good thing.

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The train that derailed in

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The train that derailed in Washington wasn't new. It was a Talgo trainset that's been in service for 20 years (though one of the locomotives was a Charger that's only been in service for a short time, it was extensively tested for a similar period first).

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Next Year

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Save the photo next year the caption will read "T-returns defective orange line trains to China."

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If We're Starting A Pool, I'm Betting On The Chinese!

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I am uncharacteristically optimistic about The 's new trains!

Yes, there will be issues, but this is the largest manufacturer of rail vehicles in the world, all customized for hundreds of specific applications. It appears they know what they're doing and are eager to establish themselves in the U.S. They certainly have the resources to solve problems and get manufacturing up to speed quickly.

Unfortunately, America threw away it's rail expertise many years ago. Europe, and now China picked up where we left off and ran with it. I'm anticipating a high quality product.

Odds?

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More likely: "T unable to use

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More likely: "T unable to use perfectly functional trains due to { decrepit MBTA infrastructure | design oversight that could have been caught at six different stages but wasn't }, blames manufacturer, lawsuits ensue."

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Are the people on the ground

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Are the people on the ground in that photo basically acting as dampers to prevent the car from swinging?

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Imagine how much cheaper and

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Imagine how much cheaper and more reliable the process would be if all of the cars were made in an established factory and unloaded from a ship in Boston.

Instead, components have to be shipped inland to a currently nonexistent factory in Springfield, to support a Massachusetts railcar industry that doesn't exist.

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The American assembly is part

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The American assembly is part of federal rules.

Normally yes, but in this case no. The state isn't using federal funding for these cars, and actually has stricter requirements than the federal "Buy America" ones. The state wrote into the contract that the cars must be assembled in not just the US, but Massachusetts specifically.

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Point taken

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But you raise a bigger question- why didn’t the Patrick administration try to get federal funding?

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Protectionism and intentional

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Protectionism and intentional inefficiency at work. These few people get jobs at T rider and taxpayer expense.

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Your argument is beyond the T

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Any transit agency that follows the federal guidelines can get federal funding, making the order cheaper for the agency.

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