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MBTA board approves $811-million purchase of Green Line 'supercars'

Proposed Supercar

Behold the Supercar (final look may differ).

The MBTA board this week approved a contract with a Spanish rail manufacturer for 102 next-gen Green Line cars that will be far longer than today's trolleys, with delivery of the first new test cars in spring of 2026.

The board voted to sign the deal with CAF, which built the 24 "Type 9" trolleys the T bought in anticipation of the Green Line Extension. The longer "Type 10" cars, with multiple bendy sections, will increase capacity on what is already the nation's most used light-rail line as well as provide greater handicap accessibility, once they begin passenger service. The T is currently estimating spring, 2027 for the first rollout of the new cars in actual passenger service.

Eventually, the new trolleys, to be assembled at an existing rail-car facility in Elmira, NY, will replace all the "Type 7" and "Type 8" trolleys now in service - by 2030, the T estimates.

Because they will replace what are now two-car consists, each of which has an operator, the T adds the new cars mean it will need fewer employees to run the trolleys.

Interior schematic:

Interior schematic of new car

Among its recent capital projects, the T has been working to get the current Green Line ready for the new cars, including building longer platforms and making more platforms accessible to people with mobility issues.

More Supercar details from the MBTA.

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Comments

to ride one of these for a week in 2034, and two days in 2036!

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Voting closed 118

Mr. Optimism is checking in.

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Voting closed 41

Well at least they went with an established manufacturer. Maybe the state learned its lesson from the disastrous Chinese factory "jobs creation" circus.

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Voting closed 49

Solidifying his legacy, lol

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Voting closed 19

CRRC is the worlds largest rolling stock manufacturer! China alone has more than 4500 miles of urban rapid transit lines.

All are relatively new of course, and not adapted to fit into a 100+ year old subway system like Boston.

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Voting closed 26

The Green Line D Branch, for instance, dates from 1958.

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Voting closed 7

Am I in the twilight zone? The FTA released a report TWO days ago that said the MBTA screwed up by diverting millions of dollars to purchase new orange line cars at the expense of neglecting day-to-day safety/maintenance. To turn around and spend 11 million on Green Line "supercars" right now is incomprehensible.

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Voting closed 49

The MBTA is incapable of just "turning around" and doing anything. Type 10 procurement has been in the works officially for five years and unofficially longer than that. It would be incomprehensible to stop that process reactively on the eve of a winning bid selection, then do nothing and let the 7s and 8s slide into Orange Line levels of rust and obsolescence. They have to walk and chew gum at the same time, that's what the FTA report was really about. The business of running a system safely WHILE ALSO, you know, running it and making sure it doesn't collapse into dust.

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Voting closed 66

Sorry, just imagining the guys on the procurement team, two days away from making an $811 million choice:

"Guys, drop everything, get your hard hats and vests, FTA says we gotta get out there and be safer."
"What? I don't have a hard hat or a vest, I'm an accountant."
"SAFER! NOW! THERE'S NO TIME! GET DOWN IN THE TUNNELS AND START SAFING IT UP!"

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Voting closed 47

My head voice is reading that like Malone telling the accountant, "You wear a badge? Carry a gun!" in The Untouchables.

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Voting closed 11

Okay, you make a fair point. But the optics and timing of the situation are still unfortunate. Couldn't they have at least postponed this announcement until the end of the month when the OL is *hopefully* back up and running? It just seems a bit tone deaf to do it now.

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Voting closed 9

Just take the loss. Stop digging.

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Voting closed 9

MBTA buying new green line cars with increased capacity is a *good* thing. we can be mad about mismanagement while understanding that improvements need to continue.

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Voting closed 15

I hope there's a snow plow under that chin..

Oh, never mind. There won't be any more snow by the time we see these.

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Voting closed 44

The specification calls for couplers that work with the legacy fleet (not to run in trains together, but to couple up when something breaks down and needs to be pushed). The front end of the final design will probably end up looking more like the existing Type 9s than this design (which is CAF's standard low-floor car design)

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Voting closed 7

Resembles a sandworm with a cellphone photoshopped over its face.

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Voting closed 16

Because they will replace what are now two-car consists, each of which has an operator, the T adds the new cars mean it will need fewer employees to run the trolleys.

That's not going to go over well with the carmen's union

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Voting closed 21

This wouldn’t appear to be a problem.

Of course, in 10 years, who knows what the situation will be.

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Voting closed 20

The station I'm most wondering about is Boylston, which has never been substantially rebuilt since 1897. Do the new trains fit on those platforms?

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Voting closed 26

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that one of these cars would be the same length as two of the current cars, in which case they would definitely fit at Boylston. (The MBTA page that Adam links to doesn't offer detailed specifications, for length or anything else).

That same MBTA webpage mentions a future "Level 3, Increased Capacity" for somewhere down the road, with "Additional vehicles and infrastructure for two-car Type 10 operation", and subject to getting a "CIG Core Capacity Grant" from FTA.

CAF is a highly regarded, well established manufacturer of light rail vehicles around the world, unlike some other carbuilders that the MBTA has recently contracted with (ahem, ahem).

Ron rightly notes that Boylston station has never been substantially rebuilt since 1897. That would, in fact, be September 1, 1897, meaning that yesterday, Thursday, was the 125th anniversary of the subway opening. I haven't seen any other references to that anniversary online. Given the current situation at the T, I can understand why they don't want to call any more attention to the age of the system.

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Voting closed 25

Two of these cars will equal one three car train. I think the idea is that except for peak service on some lines, they could get away with single cars, which means fewer carmen. I would expect that they would be fully train-lined, too, so one operator in a front car could operate the doors for both (assuming they figure out fare payment). I think Boylston might need a slight modification.

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Voting closed 10

Is to move to proof-of-payment, so presumably you have a single operator and occasionally fare-enforcement staff on the trains validating tickets/passes -- and all doors open at surface stops.

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Voting closed 12

will trigger a requirement to make it ADA-compliant as well. Right now it has no elevators or even escalators.

The T can probably get away with this for now because it is so close to accessible Park Street and Chinatown stations. I would prefer to see ADA money spent on much busier Hynes station.

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Voting closed 9

The current Type 8 fleet (Breda) were known for derailing on some switches, and curves and that forced some track re-alignments. Also referred to as "two rooms and a bath" by some, they had problems and sometimes still do.

A new Type 10 (Supertrain) will fit at Boylston but need to pull all the way up and in. The curve is tight and that may need to be considered. The problem is that area is a steel superstructure (bridge) that passes over the former approach to the old abandoned Tremont Street tunnel so opening up that curve would be a serious construction effort and also might need taking more land at the Boston Common, but then you may start to run into the cemetery. Sure some of the bodies were moved but did they get all of them? Who knows.

I have some serious concerns for them making the loop at Park Street. Government Center less so. If the geometry can be met and stresses between couplers addressed then maybe ok.

MBTA has not run any of the Type 7, 8, or 9 cars in 3-car operation as far as I know. Maybe a few test runs. The last type to run in 3-car trains was the PCC units but their body length was shorter and you mostly only saw 3-cars in a train on the Riverside line.

All current rolling stock needs an operator to open and close doors, so a 2-car set has an operator assigned to "trailers" to do that. All persons assigned to trailers also had to be qualified operators in the event the 2 car set had to be uncoupled and run individually.

The new Type 10 units will have 1 operator thus decreasing ridership safety. Remember, they are not supposed to carry a cell phone when operating. They are not supposed to even have it on their person. So if there is an accident and the radio goes out for some reason you are all alone out there (or under there).

The reason cells were banned from operators was due to one person misusing their phone while operating. This was a knee jerk reaction by the state. The MBTA always had a rule against this but did not properly enforce it. The culture at the time (and remains) is that you don't snitch on the other guy.

So carry your own cell and a flashlight, learn how the emergency door release actually operates, and watch the tunnel marking telling you how many feet to the next station in both directions.

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Voting closed 8

The specification said these cars will be 112 feet long. A two-car train of existing cars is 148 feet long, a three-car train of existing cars (when they ran them) is 222 feet. Even if they eventually order more "super cars" so they can run two car trains, they will be 224 feet long.

Note that the interior design shows 60 seats. A two car train of the existing cars has 84 seats, so while a single supercar will have the same total capacity of two old cars, it will mean more people standing vs. today.

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Voting closed 7

Almost a billion dollars.

Seriously, I'm thinking you could get 100,000 golf carts for this money. Just give everyone a cart, get rid of the tracks and put in some cart trax, and have everyone zip around on the carts. Hell you can even get rid of cars on some roads and just have carts.

So a quick calculation tells me that going from Providence to Boston would take about 3+ hours on a golf cart so that's not gonna happen. But Forest Hills to Back Bay is about 15 minutes!

Hell you don't even have to give everyone a cart, you can have T drivers (now) drive some carts for people who don't have them.

What happens if a cart breaks down? Another one can come by in 5 minutes to pick you up.

Hell, you can have little coffee shops and bars along the cart path.....

No bikes though. That is a given. :/

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Voting closed 25

And to help the drivers, we can put the golf carts on tracks. And maybe connect a bunch of them together so that we can just use the engine from one golf cart. Oh, but it would be nice if they were enclosed for inclement weather, and while we're at it, maybe make it a bit bigger so you can stand up? Oh, and we'll need them to be accessible for handicapped people. Huh, maybe there is something to this "train" thing after all!

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Voting closed 37

We must all pretend to be able to afford our own personal infrastructure. Any collectivism, even the most modest public expenditure, is akin to strangling a bald eagle with one's own bare hands.

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Voting closed 27

Seriously, I'm thinking you could get 100,000 golf carts for this money. Just give everyone a cart, get rid of the tracks and put in some cart trax, and have everyone zip around on the carts. Hell you can even get rid of cars on some roads and just have carts.

I would pay money to see this. No "cart trax" though. Just a free for all.

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Voting closed 11

I knew when CRRC put out an anime poster for the new Orange Line cars the situation was dire.

If they are as good as the Type 9s, the Green Line is in good hands.

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Voting closed 12

The people who repair and operate the Type 9s don't share your high opinion of them.
They look good only if you compare them to the CRRC cars on Red and Orange, which is a low bar.

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Why can't any of these cars and engines be built in the United States?

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Even with sleek new trains it's still going to be a long haul.

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Voting closed 18

IMAGE(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/Ashmont_Mattapan_streetcar_in_woods.jpg)

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Voting closed 25

as the eventual plan is to move existing Green Line cars over to this line.

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Voting closed 14

i thought the t had no money to upgrade this spur.

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Voting closed 11

The T is contracting Brookville Trolley to rebuild the PCC's so they operate with all-electric components (brakes, doors, sanders, etc.) similar to the Green Line trolleys, rather than the air-operated components they use now. There would likely be 10 cars to be rebuilt to operate in Mattapan, but the T will probably shift a couple of the Green Line cars to Mattapan to supplement them.

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Voting closed 7

What about these PCC's is not all-electric now?

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Voting closed 7

All of the PCC's on the Mattapan have components that operate with air - the propulsion, brakes, doors, sanders, etc. Converting these trolleys to all-electric components will cut down on repairs and wear.

The MTA purchased PCC's that had 100% electric components (3197-3221) back in the early 1950s but MTA management went back to buying trolleys with air operated components because didn't like all-electric control - the MTA were used to having air-operated components on its trolleys and they felt the all-electric trolleys ran too quietly.

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Voting closed 8

Thank you. I was thinking of 'electric powered' and forgot about 'electric operated/actuated' versus things like air brakes.

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Voting closed 4

Here is a video of 3265, which was converted from an air-electric PCC to an all-electric PCC:

The collection of power to the trolley (trolley pole or pantograph) is the same. With an air-electric PCC, you will hear a loud puff of air when the air brake is released and the trolley departs, or hear the doors open, etc. With an all-electric PCC, you hear none of this, and you may hear the whine of the AC motor.

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Voting closed 6

I love those old trolleys. They're actually quite comfortable in an old fashioned kind of way.

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Voting closed 8