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Remember the bad old days on the Orange Line when doors wouldn't work and they had to take the entire train out of service?

Shortly after 4 p.m., former City Councilor Matt O'Malley was on one of the spiffy new bing-bing-bing Orange Line trains with the fancy computerized displays and those oh-so-nubbly plastic seats, just riding like a cloud, when it pulled into Mass. Ave. - and promptly had to be taken out of service because the doors wouldn't close.

All passengers must now figure out alternative ways home. For some of us, it means late day care pickup. For others, it means being late for work.

I hope this new car is still under warranty. Do better, MBTA!

At 3:56 p.m., the MBTA reported:

Orange Line experiencing southbound delays of up to 15 minutes due to a train with a door problem at Mass Ave.



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Hi ho Magoo here! Magoo was on that train! Or was Magoo on that train? Hmmm. Magoo.

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Even on the EL at Dudley curve the old clunkers worked.

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Magoo out of service?

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if only...

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Yeah but so much worse if the doors don't open and you're surrounded by the screamers, the obnoxious drunks, the perverts, the speakerphone yappers, the needle clutchers, the ejaculaters, the MassCass regular's head nodding into your lap, etc. I prefer the doors to be unable to close any day.

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I prefer the doors to be unable to close any day.

It's not like you actually ride the subway, is it?

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It must be exhausting to be a coward who is afraid of every person they encounter.

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I hope Maura doesn't end up being a deadbeat when it comes to our broken subway system like Charlie.

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is that the Healey administration will find the MBTA is far more f*cked up than what we already know now.

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The conductors used to be more ballsy back in the day or the MBTA Administration has gotten more safety conscious lately.

I can remember a ride from Essex Station to Northampton Station where one of the off platform doors on a car was open for that entire stretch of the trip. No one was stupid enough to stand near that void into electrocution at a high rate of speed. Everybody just wanted to get home.

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Meanwhile, in Asia.

And if one of them falls or gets side Storrowed and is killed, the train keeps on going.

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Just trying to spread some hate towards Asians?

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Point is that what we Americans consider to be "normal" today is really an extreme aversion to risk compared to most of the world and compared to the history of human civilization.

Where do you get Asian hate from?

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I didn't realize that "Apropos of nothing, in Asia, they'd just leave you to die beside the tracks" was supposed to be a value-neutral statement.

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Much like most of the garbage that is made overseas, it starts to break at the 2 year mark. Some of these trains are about that old.

If all goes as planned, within 3 years, the RFP for new trains will go out because these will just get so bad.

But thank bajeezuz that we got the lowest cost trains possible and gave ppl in Springfield jobs. Who cares if the trains break in 3 years. WE SAVED MONEY. /snark

The Blue Line Siemens cars are pretty much trouble free. Blue Line is still the only line with the fewest problems relating to the cars (overhead wires.. thats different).

We could have had Siemens.... but instead we got:

Boeing Vertrol v2.0: CCRC Edition

Sometimes for quality, you gotta pay for it.

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Overseas? They are made in Springfield with 90% of the components sourced from countries other than China.

Siemens? They didn't even respond to the RFP, so it would have been some magic to get them to make the new batch.

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This is misinforming readers. I understand the frustration, I am not happy hearing the brand new trains breaking down already, but what actually happen matters. None of us are the decision-makers and thus actionable lessons to avoid future mistakes but it doesn't make it okay to express our anger while citing things that didn't happened that way.

Much like most of the garbage that is made overseas,

This line implies readers that we have an option to build American. But no American company bid, no American company event attended the pre-bid meeting. Only 9 companies attended they are CSR (China), CNR (China), CAF (Spain), Kawasaki (Japan), Siemens (Germany), Alstom (France), Bombardier (Canada), Hyundai Rotem (Korea), and Nippon-Sharyo (Japan).

If you read this this article, only 7 at the meeting said they would bid.

Per MBTA Tech Spec document, only 6 actually bid. Btw, Siemens was not one of them.

it starts to break at the 2 year mark. Some of these trains are about that old.

It has to be noted that most of the trains are under 2 years old. The train delivery has been so slow despite that the first delivery is over 2 years, most of the trains are not. I don't trust the reliable of the trains either, but to presume the trains is 2 years then conclude the trains must be all designed to break down after 2 years. Not to mention warranty still exists too.

But thank bajeezuz that we got the lowest cost trains possible and gave ppl in Springfield jobs.

Let's put a pin on this. I'll return to this in a bit.

Who cares if the trains break in 3 years. WE SAVED MONEY. /snark

This implies the bidding was done with only the lowest priced considered. If you read though the Staff Summary (and there's also a slide presentation version), you would see that the MBTA did consider things more than just price. Most particularly is CNR is actually rated positively about their ability and history including "Good" rating for manufacturing (Meanwhile also rival bidder Chinese company CSR was rated so poorly they were outright rejected with overall rating of "Unacceptable" - I explicitly mentioned CSR for a reason and I'll return to this in a bit). Maybe you can argue CNR's rating was not a true evaluation, but if you Google CNR's delivery history, you would find they've been reliable to multiple cities around the world. The ratings does seem consistent to their past performance

So you have the finalist of CNR, Hyundai Rotem, Bombardier and Kawasaki. Only 4 got past of filters of making the past the barriers of bothering to actually bid, passing the financial requirements, passing the technical requirements. CNR's technical submission and history is as good as Bombardier, but at half the price (I do have reason to speculate why but let's put on pin on this and we can return to this later).

Why choose Bombardier and pay double (and the double is also significantly above industry average too) when the CNR has been as good as Bombardier at half the price ?

Don't say Hyundai Rotem either. Sure, they are much closer to CNR's cost. But we need to remember 2013's context. Hyundai Rotem botched the delivery of the our local Commuter Rail Coaches hard. It's not just optics, we would have all raged to award a company that botch previous work so hard but award with more work.

Finally Kawasaki, they aren't as expensive as Bombardier, but still way too expensive. Again, the argument above about Bombardier still applies here.

We could have had Siemens.... but instead we got:

As mentioned above. Siemens did not bother to bid. They did show up to the pre-bid meeting. They did verbally said at the meeting they were interested. But apparently they didn't bid. So to say "we could have Siemens", our timeline has to be massively differently - as in Siemens have to be interested enough to actually bid rather than the Commonwealth should have selected them.

Also Siemens is a German company. It's an overseas company. You can't wish for Siemens while also cite overseas as an issue at the same.

All the above said, there's a few other things to return to.

1. The mention of CSR pin - I explicitly mentioned CSR's bid was rated so "Unacceptable" and so their bid was outright rejected. You may also noticed I kept saying CNR rather than CRRC. That's because CRRC didn't exist yet. The MBTA choose CNR, but a year later the chosen CNR and the rejected CSR merged to become CRRC. We all can speculate and debate what it ultimately means.

2. The "Give Springfield Jobs" and Bombardier price pin. One big and notable thing that may be a real lesson for us is the "Made in MA" rule. This is personal speculation, but based on the bidding, a big factor why Kawasaki and Bombardier price was so much higher is because they have to build a factory in MA. So they priced in the cost of constructing a factory in the bid. Bombadier being even higher for other reasons too that I'll omit that speculation.

But CNR (and CSR) has no factory in the US. Despite delivering trains all over the world, they have no US market presence as they need to build a factory in the US. Since they need to build a factory in the US regardless, it makes no significant difference to build it in Idaho or here. So they were able to bid a much lower price as they needed to build a factory anyways.

So, while I have to say this is personal speculation, based on the above, the real damage is the "Made in MA" rule. I do get the logic. If it had worked out well, it could/should have been a win-win-win. Western MA get jobs, Eastern MA gets trains. But with hindsight, it likely scared away more bids and raise the cost of the bids of the most the bidders. And it's an open question that the jobs for Western MA was that worth it, especially long term given the state if political relations between respective nations.


Finally one more thing. If we somehow and inexplicably just choose Bombardier or Kawasaki. Those timeline have a significant chance of going as poorly. In the time since that bid, Bombardier botched the trains for NYC and Kawasaki botched for DC.

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I really Appreciate It

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I love the part where the Bombardier trains in New York are having door issues.

Also, I see that the CRRC trains for Chicago are rolling out now. They also had to build a factory in Illinois for that.

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Thanks, Patrick!

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And if they hadn't, you'd be complaining that the commonwealth was wasting money.

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There should be evaluation criteria for all bids not just which one is the cheapest. The old adage still holds true - you get what you pay for.

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They did, see my post above.

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I appreciate your detailed post explaining the situation. I always thought it was weird they were pushing to be built here in MA vs just going with the best option.

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