Mockup of new Red Line car on its way here

Red Line mockup

Yes, such is our weariness with dying Red Line cars that even just a mockup of one of the new fleet of cars we'll supposedly be getting lifts our spirits, at least an eensy weensy little bit. MBTA GM Luis Ramirez posted a couple of photos this morning of workers at the CRRC plant in China packing up the mockup for shipment here so that we can ooh and ahh at its bright new paint scheme while wondering when the actual cars will get here.

You may recall they did the same thing with an Orange Line mockup last summer, and now the first of the actual Orange Line cars are busy being run up and down that third track north of Boston to shake them down for possible actual use by the end of the year.

And don't worry, the white plastic is just to protect the model on its ocean voyage to the US.

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Yeah, I'm starting to feel

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Yeah, I'm starting to feel that every time I read about and see photos of the supposed new trains, and workers wearing hard hats out at the Springfield assembly location, wearing big smiles, that it's just like seeing a Google ad about some new lie about the Royal Family. Please don't tell me it's just hyped up fake news. (And reader, don't worry, just because I'm using the term "fake news" doesn't mean I'm a Trump supporter. You can all calm down.) Please assure me the trains are coming soon.

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Actually, I'm Wondering

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Why this couldn't have been done in Pennsylvania or Ohio.

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Why not Lynn?

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Why not Lynn?

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Because

The cost of building and equipping the factories and training the workers would completely destroy the cost, time, and expertise advantage of the winning bid.

We'd pay more money for worse cars that get delivered later.

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As opposed to doing all that

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As opposed to doing all that in Springfield? Which is what we're in fact doing?

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Oh, gotcha

Thought you meant instead of China, not instead of Springfield. Yeah I dunno. But the Springfield plant is just for assembly. All the components are still made in China, so it's a less intense investment and training

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Okay how about the old

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Okay how about the old Readville rail yard , maybe an annex at the old S & S warehouse. That area was orientated to welding , and Westinghouse had a factory there. There is a legacy of metal work in the area , maybe make some tax incentives and political posturing to encourage rail car production. Design a durable adaptable product , and again encourage US rail end users to utilize the US built product. Plant the seed, grow the business. Its not too far fetched . Maybe make America great again the old fashion way, work !

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I'll say this much

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Springfield has a greater need for jobs, and it's always had a bigger manufacturing sector than Boston.

Also, since the Commonwealth is paying for the trains, which will be used solely in the Boston area, why not throw a bone to the west?

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Readville had an old rail

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Readville had an old rail yard , has the develop-able space , and the area has a legacy of metal working, run down the ave and see the old buildings that once housed manufacturing. Just bring the old barrooms back and we got lift-off, plus Mumbles isn't around to obfuscate things!

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RLX to Mattapan

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There's an outlying benefit once these new cars arrive. The MBTA can start to run Red Line subway trains to Mattapan. Old subway cars from the 80s would be a welcomed boost compared to the museum-piece trolleys currently in-use. A few upgrades along the line, and you're ready to go.

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More than a few upgrades needed

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Here are some off the top of my head:

-new platforms so riders can get on the trains
-the installation of third rail the entire length of the line
-rebuilding of several bridges on the line, which is why they cannot even repurpose current Green Line trains to the line
-installation of crossing barriers at Central Ave.

I won't even put on the list the fact that there are people out there who like the PCCs and think that they give the line character, because as opposed to the facts above, that is just opinion. On, and one more

-the old Red Line cars are being replaced for a reason. They are starting to break down constantly. Mattapan riders would probably prefer something that will get from A to B.

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Nah

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One of the plans in the works is to look at the feasibility of converting that line to light rail and/or just BRT. And yes, finally upgrading the bridges that need to be upgraded that currently wont hold modern LRV cars.

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You're both wrong

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The Mattapan line is a heavy rail line. Just like the Highland Branch is a heavy rail line

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I'm not wrong

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I made 5 points, none of which concerned the quality of the rail.

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Mattapan-to-Red project punchlist

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The weak bridges have all been fixed.

  • The old rickety Ashmont viaduct--the biggest single offender for weight limit--was replaced more than 10 years ago during the station renovation and can now fit max-weight trolleys. Of course, in a Red Line conversion scenario the trolley viaduct wouldn't be used at all for trains...probably just re-fashioned into part of the busway or something.
  • The Neponset Trail overpass in Cedar Grove Cemetery and the Neponset River crossing just east of Butler Station were completely rehabbed during the line shutdown for Ashmont Station reconstruction so they could be ready for Neponset Trail construction under and alongside those respective spans.
  • The only on-line bridge structure I'm not sure of comprehensiveness of recent rehabs is the other Neponset River crossing just east of Mattapan Station. Pretty sure that one too has had recent work, but if any structures are still slapped with a continuing weight restriction it is only limited to that one and only that one, at not a large price tag since bridges of similarly generic size/properties get rapid-replaced around the whole of the MBTA system each fiscal year.

Re: grade crossings. . .
Central Ave. and Capen St. crossings would have to be grade-separated with overhead rail bridges, as grade crossings with third rail wouldn't be allowed. Neither crossing elimination would be considered a budget-buster.

  • Capen's a very minor side street, and an easy one to knock off if adjacent residents don't complain too much about the construction schedule.
  • Central Ave. already has the rock-cut grade to the west of the crossing to graft an overpass embankment off of for trimming costs; it would just be a somewhat close shave to the adjacent building on the east side of the crossing.

Re: stops. . .

    There would be lots of stop consolidation in any conversion scenario, since Red Line vs. High Speed Line stop spacing is very different.
  • Cedar Grove, Butler, Valley Rd., and Capen St. would all go away in any Red conversion scenario because of too-close stop spacing for too little ridership.
  • Milton and Central Ave. would probably be combined into one stop at Milton where the Adams St. overpass provides place to plunk a headhouse entrance to a new 6-car island platform down in the ROW cut (consolidation into Milton also being a reason why the Central Ave. crossing elimination needn't be a budget-buster unto itself). Buses from Central Ave. side would probably be re-routed a block over to Adams for curbside dropoff at the new station, and a direct exit/entrance onto the Neponset path would rope in the former Central Ave. and Butler station catchments into the new station.
  • Presumably the track shift through the Codman Yard onto the Red Line side would allow for taking 1 trolley track's berth and making it into a footpath from Ashmont Station to Gallivan Blvd. and/or Cedar Grove, similarly scooping up the ex-Cedar Grove catchment into the consolidated stations.
  • Rest is reshaping Mattapan Station into a 6-car stub-end...maybe with a third pocket track for stuffing a disabled train.

Re: car counts for a Mattapan extension. . .
Over the last 50+ years, the Red Line has always had split fleets of two different makes who couldn't trainline with each other. Today that's the 018000 cars in one fleet, and the 01500/01600/01700 cars in another. Before that it was the 01400 cars in one fleet, and the 15's/16's/17's in another. Before that it was the 01400's as one fleet and some truly ancient pre-war antiques in another. That's all going away now that the new Red fleet is going to be one completely uniform make, and maxes out the fleet size for that one uniform make with service-enhancing increases.

Why is that significant for Mattapan? Well, at only +2 stops and a few extra minutes added to an existing Ashmont schedule it's not going to take more than more a couple more active 6-car trainsets to re-balance Alewife-Mattapan headways to equal what they'll be Alewife-Ashmont (i.e. ensure that no headway gaps open up downtown because of the slightly longer scheduled distance in Dorchester). Where do you get those 2-3 extra trainsets without needing to make a supplemental order later on?

By having fewer cars laying around the yards out-of-service. With TWO fleets that have to trainline separately on any given day there's going to be an odd assortment of 01800's and 015/16/17's sitting around in the shop line for inspection or day-to-day aches and pains, with a few units held out long-term awaiting parts...but not enough healthy spares of EITHER series of yard flotsam to put together 1 extra 6-car reserve set for revenue service. Plus the 15's/16's/17's, while *nearly* identical and fully able to trainline, are not *exactly* identical and have some differing parts/components between them that have to be matched up correctly when they're in the shop, sometimes chewing a little additional time getting them back on the road.

Go from that situation to one where EVERY car is exactly 100% identical in every way/shape/form from the same production batch...and you can mix/match yard flotsam into extra revenue trains a lot easier than with heterogeneous fleets that can't mix. The ratio of in-service cars to out-of-service cars will be considerably higher than today even when these new CRRC cars get old and near-replacement age themselves, simply because one common fleet doesn't need the cumulative yard reserves that two differing fleets need. The functional increase in availability, coupled with the fact that they're outright increasing the fleet size with factory extras to the max current Red can possibly handle, probably means that they can safely skate on their own in-house reserves to supply the Mattapan extension's cars. So long as they don't let deferred maintenance push these CRRC cars way, way far past practical retirement age like the current fleet(s) that should be safe enough.

Re: other. . .
Rest of the track work is changing the switch layout at Codman Yard at Ashmont to be bi-directional. *Some* additional electrical power boost may be necessary, but since a major power expansion and reliability project for the whole Ashmont Branch is already happening in prep for these new Red cars the trolley line is slated to be future-proofed for the power demands of running any current or near-future Green Line stock. If anything above-and-beyond that is needed for poking 6-car Red trains 2 extra stops @ Ashmont Branch headways, it's not by very much margin above what they're already doing.

Re: politics. . .
Really, it's not technical or nostalgia reasons preventing a full-on Red conversion. It's because whenever Red conversion proposals have come up in the past, Milton has jealously guarded its boutique stops at Butler, Valley, and Capen and used the political capital of those upper-crust neighborhoods to stop that talk in its infancy. The High Speed Line used to be almost entirely contained in Tom Finneran's ultra-gerrymandered Legislative district when he was the autocratic Speaker and during his long rise to power, so while Milton's representation could hardly be called transit-friendly overall they had outsized protection in the State House for keeping those boutique stops as-is. Finneran's district was simply drawn that way to overrate the intermediate-stop neighborhoods vs. the major squares and transit nodes Ashmont, Lower Mills, and Mattapan.

That's not the case anymore as Finneran is long gone and the districts were heavily re-drawn to now lump the High Speed Line's constituents in with bigger transit advocacies on the Fairmount Line corridor (12th Suffolk) and North Quincy (7th Norfolk). So now probably ends up the most politically favorable time in 40+ years to take another gander at studying the Red conversion option, since the district gerrymander drawn to overvalue the residents around those boutique intermediate stops has been busted up and replaced by a new alignment with meatier big-node transit advocacy.

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Well written

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But I still put the task a bit beyond anon's "a few upgrades." I mean, you are talking about consolidating stops and building overpasses (or bridges.)

Also, I am willing to bet the bridges that have issues are for the Neponset crossings and the creeks that no one thinks about unless they are walking the line.

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Good but you may want to aim lower

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How 'about using the Green Line surplus trains on the line? The Green Line core meltdown this week rocked the Baker admin. Get ready for a moratorium on all expansion.

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Oh, boy

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The Green Line core meltdown this week rocked the Baker admin

In so many ways, that is a good one. Almost fell off my seat laughing.

No, the wire problem on the Green Line is certainly not the worst T crisis of the past 4 years (ask someone what the T was like in February of 2015 to get an idea) and probably not the worst thing to happen in the past year.

I agree that they might not want to go too strong on expansion. I say, finish up the GLX, shelve South Coast Rail for a bit, and get the T up to a good state of repair before pushing anything else.

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Maybe not rocked but things are adding up

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Green Line collapse on a mild day, South Station collapse on a mild day, Silver Line collapse on a mild day, RMV collapses, MassDOT perks scandal, Pollack bathroom scandal, real estate meltdown; all in the first half of one year

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New cars are thus far on schedule, no?

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The T has its (many) issues, but to my knowledge, the new cars for Orange and Red are on schedule. When they demoed a 2/3 length car in April of 2017 at City Hall, they had a brochure which included this timeline:


Full Spring 2017 Brochure

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Perhaps Adam's concern about

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Perhaps Adam's concern about whether the cars will really show up or not is based on the possibility that Trump will follow though on threats to add heafty tarrfis on rail cars built in China. Otherwise I agree that his tone seems overly pessimistic considering that they seem to be on schedule so far.

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Nah ...

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I'm more pessimistic based on the T's history over the last four decades with purchases of new rolling stock - something almost always seems to go wrong (remember that time they bought trolleys that couldn't get up the Comm. Ave. hill?). But maybe it's time for the streak to end!

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Actually, I don't have any

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Actually, I don't have any memory of any equipment purchased that did not have the horsepower to climb Comm Ave. Any links?

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It happens

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It happens on almost all custom subway cars.. not really specifically to the T. This is why there's a burn in period on all transit vehicles before they go into revenue service. It's to get out the kinks.

But this is why the T wants to modernize the Green Line, so it can use off the shelf rolling stock. Fewer issues, and you'll be able to replace the trains sooner and faster.

As far as having a fully functional test car being made over seas.. I get it. CRRC wants to make sure the engineering works before they mass produce them. And I am guessing the engineering and prototype people are in China, which is why they had to do it this way.

My biggest issue with CRRC is that they've never made cars for the US Market before. So it will be interesting which way it goes. I'm being hopeful that rather than it being a disaster that since CRRC is building the cars here in state, and the state has a watchful eye over it (and the entire process), it should go well. CRRC has a vested interest to make sure these go well, if it does not go well, they won't be able to enter this market. (or they can, but with already a bruise on their record)

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Pessimistic Adam?

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No, I am that those test cars they are playing with right now make it in use in December.
Of course, any new cars in December may look good but it is not going to do anything to help the Orange line right away.
Also I am really doubtful that the new cars will add capacity and speed up the commute.
That will need to be seen as to be believed.
Thinking this AM about the T project schedule. Forest Hills work still a year plus behind. The new elevator escalators at Medical Center were supposed to be done in May still not done.
Confidence in T project schedules is minimal

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With a little ingenuity all

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With a little ingenuity all the rail orientated cars should be made in the US. There should be enough critical mass to factor the production to be profitable with a little bit of common sense and reasonable expectation.

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Nice theory

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But there's probably a reason none of the bidders on the Red and Orange line projects were Americans. At least we got an assembly plant out of the deal.

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That's an awful big "should"

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Have any numbers? You know, like how much land and where and how much that costs. Then, how long to build the plant, source raw materials and get labor -- and how much that costs. Then there is the environmental impact.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Presumably, it's cheaper to build in China and assemble here because that is what is happening.

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Here's A Number - 119,050,000,000

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US-China trade deficit. In 2018 alone.

(Not sure how much of the $119,050,000,000 our Commonwealth has contributed.)

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orange/red line trains - building in Springfield

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they are building the cars for the red & orange line trains in SPRINGFIELD MA. The company building them is Chinese owned. There are no "American" companies building subway cars.

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