Ask any Boston commuter or, even, the governor of Massachusetts, about the prospect of new train cars coming to the MBTA and you’re likely to get the same response, “They can’t get here fast enough.” In fact, those were Governor Charlie Baker’s exact words Tuesday after introducing the new MBTA standard at Wellington Station in Medford.
The new cars are slated to replace existing Red and Orange line trains over the next five years. Many of the existing cars have been in service since the 1970s.
Once commissioned, the new trains will solve a much-needed capacity problem. "Anybody who rides the Orange Line during rush hour knows the single biggest issue we've got there is we don't have enough trains moving through at that point in time," Baker said. “The idea here is to end up with a lot more capacity - 40 or 50 percent more capacity - on both the Orange and Red Line."
Chinese-owned CRRC MA has been contracted to build a total of 152 Orange and 252 Red Line trains. This will add an additional 32 Orange and 34 Red Line trains to the fleet.
The Red Line train is set to be introduced to the public this summer.
The new cars will cost roughly one half of a $2 billion MBTA investment that also addresses improvements to existing signal systems and maintenance facilities, according to Massachusetts transportation chief Stephanie Pollack. "Two billion dollar investment, well worth it," Pollack said.
The new cars will feature wider doors, which increase accessibility. "They're wide enough so that if one of them did break for some reason, you can still get a wheelchair in the other side, which is not true of the existing Orange Line," Pollack said.
Other new features include more passenger emergency intercoms, LED lighting, closed circuit cameras and new screens that show passengers where they are.