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MBTA Red Line Countdown Signs, Charles-MGH, December 31, 2013In a move that will result in an entirely new fleet of MBTA Red Line cars, the Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) voted to order 120 additional Red Line cars from the CRRC MA Corporation.

Having an entire fleet comprised of the same make and model has multiple operational and maintenance benefits, and customers will be provided with more trains that run more frequently and reliably.

“This decision represents a new day for the MBTA, one that that the Fiscal and Management Control Board has been working so hard to build as they take the lead on improving service for customers,” said Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack. “The new approach with this decision was to ask the question, ‘What are the actual needs of the customer and of the fleet for Red Line service.’ The answer came back that one standardized fleet would increase the number of customers transported per hour by 30,000 and would make for more efficient maintenance.  With this decision, the T is now on track to have a new Red Line fleet with sufficient capacity to run about 50 percent more trains at rush hour and to reduce the time customers have to wait for a Red Line train to only about three minutes.”

Currently on order from the CRRC MA Corporation, 132 Red Line cars will already replace the oldest cars in the Red Line fleet by 2022. This leaves eighty-four cars in need of extensive overhauls and upgrades in order to maintain reliable service levels. Instead of overhauling and upgrading these eighty-four cars, the FMCB approved the MBTA’s proposed recommendation to replace them with new cars, increasing the current order by 120 with an option to purchase an additional fourteen. The MBTA estimates this replacement along with minor speed code changes will boost capacity by fifty percent, raising the current number of trains per hour from thirteen to twenty.  The new cars also have the latest propulsion and braking systems, allowing the achievement of a three-minute headway target, reducing customer wait times. With a larger standardized fleet comprised entirely of new cars, the MBTA will also be able to implement a life-cycle maintenance program, resulting in better maintained vehicles, fewer disabled trains and breakdowns causing service interruptions, and an extended service life of at least thirty years.

“This is a historic day for the MBTA, certainly for our Red Line riders,” said MBTA Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gonneville. “The MBTA will have 120 new cars good for thirty years instead of getting no more than ten years of extra life out of a fleet of eighty-four cars that are already nearly twenty-five years old. The new cars will cost $310,000 less per car than overhauling the old cars currently in use… Replacing these vehicles will give us the ability to be able to move faster for longer and allow us to increase our capacity on the Red Line… Right now, we run about a four-and-a-half minute headway on the Red Line. This would get us down to a three-minute headway. That equates to twenty trains per hour, which also equates to about 30,000 passengers per hour increase of what we would be able to carry… In order to run a three-minute headway, we will be operating about 210 trains per hour. (There will be a) total of 252 standard Red Line cars at the Authority.”

“The MBTA will have 120 new cars good for thirty years instead of getting no more than ten years of extra life out of a fleet of eighty-four cars that are already nearly twenty-five years old,” said Gonneville. “The new cars will cost $310,000 less per car than overhauling the old cars currently in use.”

As part of the 2014 contract, CRRC continues to build a new plant for the final assembly of the new Red Line cars. Completion of the facility is expected in September 2017 with manufacturing to begin in April 2018. CRRC has estimated that the plant will create at least 150 new permanent jobs in Springfield. The MBTA noted that increasing the number of Red Line cars purchased from CRRC adds more job opportunities at the Springfield production facility.

“This means that the employees working out of the factory in Springfield, instead of wrapping up, will continue to have jobs even longer, producing cars into the year 2023,” said Secretary Pollack. “It’s Massachusetts jobs, Massachusetts workers, a Massachusetts supply chain.”

In today’s unanimous vote, the FMCB authorized MBTA management to spend up to $277 million for the procurement of the 120 cars, with an option to acquire an additional fourteen cars, along with associated capital spare parts and an extension of the technical support period.

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