T planning $3.5b Green Line train of future
New trains would be more standardized, longer, and carry more people
THE MBTA IS STARTING to develop a Green Line train of the future that will be much longer and carry far more passengers than existing train sets.
T officials told the Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday that the new trains would start arriving in 2028 and the cost of the entire project will be in the neighborhood of $3.5 billion. Although close to $1 billion in spending is already secured in current and future capital funding plans, money for the remainder of the Green Line initiative is unclear.
Jeffrey Gonneville, the deputy general manager of the T, said all financing options are on the table, but he and General Manager Luis Ramirez talked only in vague terms about those options. “When the time comes, we’ll talk about financing,” Ramirez said.
T officials said the new trains are needed to increase passenger capacity on the Green Line, just as similar procurements for the Red and Orange Lines will be doing over the next few years. Gonneville said the existing passenger capacity of the Green Line is between 200,000 and 250,000, and the capacity would rise to 450,000 if all four phases of the entire project are completed.
The new seven-section train sets will be 112 feet long, as compared to the existing trains that are 74 feet long. Each new train will carry as many passengers as two of the existing trains, in part because there will be more open space on them. Each of the new trains will have one low floor, no steps, and five doors on each side. Seats will be against the walls, as they are on the Red and Orange Lines, instead of two abreast jutting into the interior of the car as existing Green Line cars do.
A new fare collection system, in the works separately, will allow boarding at all doors and eliminate the need for drivers to collect fares from passengers. All-door boarding could help speed up boarding and off-loading of passengers and allow the T to move to center island boarding on Commonwealth Avenue.
T officials said they plan to hire a program manager for the overall Green Line project within a year. The control board on Monday approved the hiring of Mott McDonald LLC as a program and construction manager under a six-year contract with a value not to exceed $35 million.
The project currently consists of four phases. The first phase will cost nearly $1 billion and include improvements to tracks, power systems, and signals over the next five to six years.
The second phase, costing $1.5 billion to $2 billion, calls for the procurement of 94 new trains, the reconditioning of the Lechmere viaduct near the Museum of Science, and the reconfigurement of several sharp curves. The target date for the second phase is 2028.
Ramirez said his hope is to make improvements to the Lechmere viaduct in three years when the new Lechmere station will be under construction and power on the viaduct has to be shut down anyway. That would move the viaduct work up by as many as seven years and reduce inconvenience for riders. It would also address a major restriction on Green Line operations: currently the bridge is in such a state that trains can go only 20 miles per hour and only two trains can run on the bridge at the same time — one in each direction.
The final phase would extend or reconfigure 27 stations on the B and C Lines to allow them to also handle two trains running together. The cost and timeline of the final phase are not determined yet.
Joseph Aiello, the chairman of the control board, said the comprehensive nature of the Green Line proposal was heartening. “This is revolutionary thinking,” he said.Brian Shortsleeve, a member of the control board, asked Gonneville if the cost per train would come down if the T procures more standardized vehicles compared to the more customized vehicles the T has needed in the past. Gonneville said it was too early to say definitively, but he predicted the way the contract is structured should attract a lot more competition from bidders. He also confirmed CRRC, the Chinese company that is currently building Red and Orange Line cars in Springfield, could be one of the companies vying for the business.