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New Orange Line cars might as well be in Port Jervis: Once again, they're taken out of service

New Orange Line train

Easy come, easy go.

The MBTA started the day by alerting us that the shiny and new Orange Line cars are once again in the shop for repairs. This time, it's a problem with the bolsters, which need work to make them "reliable and safe."

No, we have no idea what train bolsters are, either, but we like the idea of them being reliable and safe. The T says it hopes to get both trains back on the tracks by the end of the week.

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The truck is the large assembly at each end of the car that includes the wheels. Each truck has a bolster—a transverse floating beam—between the side frames. It is the central part of every truck on which the underframe of the railcar or railroad car is pivoted through the center pivot pin.

Source:
Wikipedia

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Troublesome trucks.

Sir Topham Hatt must be beside himself.

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Voting closed 41

Wait till next week when hundreds of thousands coughing, sneezing, drunken parade goers get stuck in the bowels of Broadway station riding the vomit express to the Saint Patrick's day parade. Funny how Charlie Baker who has never rode the T forgot to mention the parade during his news conference yesterday.

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(truck) that the car rests on. The pads that were creating the "undetermined noise" a few months back are part of the truck and bolster assembly.

Of course, the larger question is this: Are we dealing with a design or manufacturing flaw, or are these cars just not up to the task of dealing with the present Orange Line track?

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But why couldn’t the T simply explain them in their press release?

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  • They sometimes dumb down their explanations too much because they think the public won't understand and it just ends up sounding like a generic explanation
  • They sometimes explain things with so much technical jargon that it sounds like they're talking down to the public

Take your pick.

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From Wikipedia

From the diagram and text, it appears to be the main structural member that spans the wheels on either side of a 'truck', or set of wheels under the train car. If there is noise, it could be the bearings that allow the truck to pivot while still carrying the load of the train car, or portions of the pivoting assembly in the center of the truck, as a couple of likely culprits.

Seems pretty important.

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it's the type of problem that could not be easily detected during testing with simulated loads on a rebuilt "test" track, and would only reveal itself in actual service on actual track. That having been said, it's probably a good thing the issue manifested itself early on, and not four or five years from now.

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Totally agree. The Orange Line is 11 miles of 120 year old track, refreshed who knows when and how often, and subject to harsh conditions. Changes they figure out now can at least be rolled into the production of future cars.

One hopes, anyway.

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120 years is a major exaggeration considering how everything south of Chinatown and north of Haymarket is newer than the 1970s and a lot of the track through downtown is being refreshed through the track program, but the point about needing better track quality definitely stands.

Honestly though...

The quality of the track alignment in the crossover just north of Ruggles is so bad, I wouldn't be surprised if the damage was being induced there and in other really rough bouncy parts of the network. They've now induced a slow zone, but they've done work on this crossover so many times the last couple of years and still haven't gotten rid of the varying elevation of the track that causes the train to gallop here when they run through at full speed.

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The original Orange Line or the Main Line of the Subway was built over 100 years ago -- But most of it was elevated. The only old track route still in use was the tunnel from Today's Haymarket to Today's Chinatown.

The Washington St. Elevated, the Southern Elevated section once went to Dudley [Dover, Northampton, Dudley] [1901 - 1908] and then was later extended to Forest Hills [Egleston, Green, Forest Hills] [1909-1912]. It was torn down and replaced by a tunnel under the Mass Turnpike to Tufts Medical Center and then a mostly depressed track following the Southwest Corridor and main line Amtrak ROW to Forest Hills opening in 1987.

The Charlestown Elevated, the Northern section had been built even a bit earlier starting in 1899 and being completed in 1902 to Sullivan Square [Sullivan Square, Thompson Square, City Square, North Station, Canal Street Incline [not a station but the portal to the underground Main Line]. The northern extension was then eventually terminated on the other side of the Mystic River @ Everett [1919]. In 1975 the entire Charlestown Elevated was replaced with a tunnel starting from Haymarket under the Charles via a new North Station to Community College and then a surface line to Oak Grove.

So the only Old [circa 1920] era roadbed exists from Haymarket to State then to Downtown Crossing and then to Chinatown.

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But only about a mile of the entire route is older than 45 years in age. The Haymarket North Extension opened in the mid-1970s and the Washington Street El was replaced in 1987. The 100+ year old section (the Washington St tunnel) is between Haymarket and just south of Chinatown. Apart from that, the Orange Line is actually newer than the rest of the subway/trolley lines.

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Seems like somebody should've predicted.

https://qz.com/724156/the-chinese-company-making-boston-and-chicagos-new...

The mainland railway industry source stated that quality issues with the Chinese-made C151A trains began to worsen in 2013. They said cracks were found in structural components, including the sub-floor – a compartment under the passenger floor holding the equipment box and electrical wires – and bolster function parts connecting the car body to the bogie, the latter having the most serious problems. “It’s a structural problem,” said the source. “The bolster function balances the train’s weight and swing range, [therefore] cracks are dynamic, [they] can spread to the train car body with the bolster function, so the entire train car must be replaced.”

I wonder why these were 50% cheaper than Bombardier?

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Due to Made in USA requirements, only the body of the trains (ie. the shells) are made in China. The trucks are sourced from American manufacturers, as are the parts that connect the trucks to the shell. Bombardier or anyone else would have had to choose from a similarly limited range of American products as well to add to their foreign-produced shells.

The trains are cheaper because they are subsidized by the Chinese government, which wanted to facilitate CRRC's entry to the North American market back in 2014.

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As I'm guessing Singapore didn't have the same supplier as the MBTA, it's most likely overall the design causing those trucks to fail. Clearly they're operating outside their design limits in at least two different applications.

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bombardier-nyctransit/exclusive-nyc-t...

NYC Transit President Andy Byford told a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) committee meeting this week that Bombardier is not making a “case” to win future rail contracts from its longstanding customer, following performance problems and delivery delays on the 300 subway car order, according to a webcast of the meeting viewed by Reuters.

Bombardier has made progress in meeting its latest delivery schedule on the order worth about $600 million, but several of its R179 subway cars were pulled from service recently, partly because of air compressor software defects, members of the MTA’s Capital Program Oversight Committee were told on Tuesday night.

"You get what you paid for" doesn't always hold true as much one like to assume. We could easily be discovering issues post full delivery like they are. Paying more for even worse outcomes.

If you actually follow the bidding process rather than just go by national stereotypes, CRRC did gave a low price, but had the backing of delivering several trainsets to both their home cities and other countries like Singapore. Meanwhile the high end price was Bombardier. It was actually so high-end that if you do follow train bidding of various metro systems, you would realized Bombardier was not giving a serious offer. It was an offer because it was obligation for a company of their size, rather than a genuine offer of actual interesting in taking on the project.

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If you actually follow the bidding process rather than just go by national stereotypes, CRRC did gave a low price, but had the backing of delivering several trainsets to both their home cities and other countries like Singapore.

WTF does "national stereotypes" have to do with this?! Maybe if they had tacked on some extra money on the bid, they could've paid for a design without documented design flaws, instead of everybody getting trains with cracks in their structural members.

CRRC delivers cars with known design flaws and Bombardier also sucks. Where does that leave us?

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WTF does "national stereotypes" have to do with this?!

I said "national stereotypes" because you are making allusions to national stereotypes. Your "should have saw it coming" is only looking "obvious" because of your presumptions of companies by national reputation. But the reality was this is one of the (few) times that the MBTA their due diligence. CNR did have a good track record. Not just with trains in dozens of Chinese metros (including Beijing), but in Hong Kong, Sydney Cityrail, Rio de Janeiro (metro and commuter rail), Kiwirail, Tehran, and Mecca. Thousands of trains in dozens of cities.

Their track record had no red flags at the time the bidding was offered. Their record can keep up to any other company, and they were offering $200 million less than the next bidder (Which was Hyundai-Rotem and they had plenty of red flags, like literally in 2014 was in disputes for the trash-tier trains they built for the Commuter Rail)

You might argue Singapore started to notice the trains in 2013 but there's a few issues with that. The discovery wasn't common knowledge by 2014, it was 35 trains out of thousands, and.... the trains are CSR trains. CNR and CSR did not merge to become CRRC until after MBTA selected them.

CRRC delivers cars with known design flaws and Bombardier also sucks. Where does that leave us?

What now is simply they are gonna fix it. The trains are still very much under warranty with all costs will be covered the CRRC. The fact we caught so many issues is actually a good sign, we want to catch them now when we're still only 2.5 trainsets in so we can make the rest be right from the get-go.

----

And one more thing, honestly, this is still pretty normal. Yes, this 3rd take out is starting to get worrying, but it still within industry norms in setting a new train for a metro system. Generally every train delivery have kinks to workout as the trains goes from constant testing to putting them to work but constantly monitoring for issues.

The real reason why this feels so painful is because the state of the MBTA that we're in. It's not the train having kinks that is abnormal, it is how our old trainsets are in such a poor state that we all constantly watch for the new trains to be ready to take over.

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Read my post again, my oversensitive friend, your paranoia has no basis in fact. I simply noted that this very same design flaw cropped up years ago. I don't even know what national stereotype you're referring to?

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Okay fine, but my far bigger point is Bombardier with its top end bid was no protection either and the MBTA actually did their due diligence with selection of the manufacturer in this case.

You are also ignoring that the MBTA selected CNR, not CSR. CSR was a separate company (including submitting their own bid to the MBTA) before it got merge into CNR. No one was predicting they would become one company when the bid was selected. The article you're citing with the design flaw is following an issue that follows a small order of 35 trains, it only became commonly known after the selection was done, and the issue was with CSR trains.

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I just want to thank the contributors to this comment thread for expanding my understanding of our urban transit system. Y'all rock.

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Bombardier may well have been pricier, and I won't offer any comment on the CRRC Cars, but Bombardier is no longer in the train making business per some recent news (2/20/2020). They sold off that portion of the company to Alstom.

Source: https://montrealgazette.com/business/local-business/aerospace/end-of-lin...

What that could have meant for long-term maintenance for any Bombardier fleet is beyond me, but it would give me pause if I suddenly couldn't turn to a reliable replacement parts source.

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Its not the same design flaw. The Singapore cars had cracks in the actual bolster (the large heavy steel piece itself) while the problems with the Boston cars are excessive wear on steel side-bearing pads that are welded to the bolster.

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CRRC delivers cars with known design flaws and Bombardier also sucks. Where does that leave us?

Hyundai-Rotem and Siemens

We should have gone with Siemens from the start. The blue line cars are well built and run almost trouble free.

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Hyundai-Rotems was delivering new commuter rail train that was years behind schedule with massive workmanship issues. If they had hypothetically selected and encounter any issues, it would look really bad that the MBTA encountered all kinds of issues in the last order but decided to buy from Hyundai again.

Siemens attended the pre-bid meetings, but they never submitted a bid. Apparently they were just not interested.

I have even heard the MBTA reached out to them and was turndown, but that claim I can't find an article to back that claim.

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Given the CR shit show that our last order from Hyundai-Rotem resulted in, not sure why they would be better. Also, yes, the current Blue Line trains from Siemens are nice, but, if I recall, they were also delayed 3 years on rollout. Like these cars, they went throw a normal teething and testing process to result in what we have today.

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Having finally gotten to ride the new trains a couple of times, I’m not all that disappointed to hear I won’t have to ride one again for a little while. The new cars are definitely quieter and smoother, and much more wheelchair accessible (and hopefully won’t leak on our heads!). Beyond that, I am disappointed that the new cars weren’t designed in a way to better maximize the space. The air vents are now located behind the seats which pushes the seats forward and reduces the amount of floor space for people who are standing. Also, there are large metal boxes housing equipment that take up valuable seating or standing areas. The wider seats, which are great (though depressingly grimy already) if you are lucky enough to get a seat, reduce the likelihood that you will. The old cars stowed equipment under the seats and in the ceiling, without impacting any of the potential space for passengers. It would have been great if they could have followed a similar design.

The reduced number of seats means that more people will be standing but there hasn’t been any compensatory increase in the number of poles or handles to accommodate them. The wider doors mean that the open space between them is quite large and could, in theory, accommodate many standing people. But in practice, there will be no where for them to hold on. The space is so big, I wonder if a standing pole could be installed in the center while still allowing wheelchairs and strollers to get around it.

I have heard people say the new cars are more spacious, but that has to be a perception based mainly on the brighter colors of the new cars versus the faux wood paneling of the old. In actual fact, there is less usable passenger space and it’s pretty disappointing. When all the new cars are in service and the headway is reduced to 4.5 minutes, these deficiencies may be less evident, but until then, it’s going to be a bit cramped.

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"The reduced number of seats means that more people will be standing but there hasn’t been any compensatory increase in the number of poles or handles to accommodate them. The wider doors mean that the open space between them is quite large and could, in theory, accommodate many standing people. But in practice, there will be no where for them to hold on."

Exactly, this is the major problem with the new cars.

Also, I will take this opportunity to hijack the thread and mention that there were at least 3 fare gates last night open at State at 7:30. This is an ongoing problem at State and the downtown crossing red line entrance in the concourse. I wonder what is going on there, if someone is vandalizing them.

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The fare gates probably aren't open because they're vandalized, they're probably open so the MBTA can cook the ridership statistics.

Open gates at night means fewer recorded riders at night, and the riders that are recorded thus look more "expensive" to service. This adds up to an argument against extending the T's operating hours.

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afaik, ridership stats are not based on fare/gate data.

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The T employee at State was directing people through the working gates at 5pm. They weren't trying to cook the books. They just have glitchy, broken gates.

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Are unlikely to happen, given that the T has just approved a costly order change - for screens on OL cars and for overhead poles (for people to hold on to) on RL cars.

In DC, though, the new 7000-series cars have such poles in the middle of the doorways. Wheelchair users are restricted to entering through the middle set of doors on each car - which makes sense because the 2 wheelchair spaces are next to the middle set of doors.

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Port Jervis Line, Adam?

Besides fixing the bolsters, you'd need Thomas the Tank Engine for sure - and some of his friends, too.

Port Jervis Line isn't electrified, other than at Hoboken Terminal (and that's overhead cat, not third rail). 8)

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As a kid, I actually took the Port Jervis line once, to visit an uncle who lived there (and owned a toy store there, his sister worked at Marx Toys); we'd normally drive, but my father liked train rides.

But, honestly, I was just trying to figure out what to rhyme "service" with in the headline, and how often am I going to be able to get "Port Jervis" in a headline, let alone a story? After today, I'm betting never :-).

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Yeah, unless you go with a Lewis Carroll and/or Batman theme. Jervis Tetch was the name of The Mad Hatter in Batman. I don't know if the Jervis part was sourced to anything in Carroll.

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Port Jervis references in Airplane!.

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New Cars Again Taken Out of Service

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Service, Jervis, Nervous, Impervious...

Much more of this and a Gilbert & Sullivan musical will break out.

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There are no G&S societies along the Orange Line.

Until recently, there were two on the Red Line, but it's now down to half of one.

And you don't want to know what happened to the one on the Providence Commuter Rail.

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For the next time the trains are pulled from service!

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Isn't it pronounced "Jahrvis," anyway?

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Anyone who says "clark" is a jark - our Elaine Stritch quote of the day

Seriously, that hadn't occurred to me. I'd have to look at a more rounded collection of writing to guess. I was just thinking of comic books, where in Batman the Hatter is spelled Jervis (and the butler in The Avengers is spelled Jarvis)

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gave a recording that says "The train you boarded is not in service" using the voice everyone in not just MA but most other east coast states are familiar with. Just change the woridng to what I quoted lol.

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