Now arriving: First new Orange Line cars in almost 40 years

CRRC-built cars to enter service Wednesday

SIX NEW MBTA Orange Line cars will enter service Wednesday, the first new cars in what will eventually be a complete replacement of the fleet that entered service around 1980.

Constructed by CRRC, a Chinese government-owned railcar manufacturer with an assembly plant in Springfield, the six new Orange Line cars have undergone about 3,800 miles of testing over the past year.

Equipped with display boards within the cars and a layout that prioritizes space for passengers to stand, plus more room for passengers moving in and out, the new cars will be quite different from the rest of the Orange Line fleet, which is scarred by rust and covered in something like a perma-grime that clouds the windows.

“They are brand new cars. They are brand new technology. They have a lot to offer to our customers as well as our employees,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak at Monday’s meeting of the Fiscal and Management Control Board. The six cars will be in one train set – rather than being interspersed with the older cars.

The announcement was a welcome bit of good news amidst a litany of woes plaguing the regional transit system, including a Red Line derailment in June that officials say will slow service on that line into October.

Control board chairman Joseph Aiello said the new Orange Line cars would allow the T to take the “least reliable train sets” out of service.

CRRC is also constructing a complete replacement of the Red Line fleet.

The introduction of new Orange Line subway cars has been beset by delays, and the full rollout is not scheduled to be completed until December 2021.

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Andy Metzger

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said one reason for the delay was “some safety critical issues” that needed to be addressed.

“All those issues have been addressed,” said Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville.