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The test Orange Line train is getting longer - and filling up with sandbags

Longer Orange Line train

With some more cars coming in from the CRRC assembly plant in Springfield, the T can now run a longer test train of the new cars - so maybe they're still on track to get at least one of the trains in service by the end of this year. Ari Ofsevit watched it bound through Assembly last night.

Lori Magno also spotted the train - and was able to see it filled with sandbags.

New Orange Line car full of sandbags

But don't worry - it's not the T's answer to trains leaking in the rain. The heavy bags are meant to simulate the weight of riders.

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Comments

They did a good job simulating the nuts to butts standing room only rush hour.

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Voting closed 24

They did a better job with sack to sack in real life.

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Railfans would pay them to pack those cars and ride them all day!

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Paying customers would be happy to sign a liability waiver and take their chances on the test trains. Couldn't be worst then the "revenue" trains they're currently are running.

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Voting closed 11

yeah im a rail fan and I would not do this.

Too much liability and risk. What happens of the car bursts into flames?

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But there's a far greater probability of that happening to regular passengers riding the trains now in revenue service than for rail fans riding a new train in testing.

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What, you mean like the actual revenue-service cars do?

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they better hurry and get that token/ ceremonial run in before the end of the year

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slowly creep through Back Bay Station towards Forest Hills around 4:15 pm.

Alas, it was an empty train pushing a dead, empty train.

The next train pulled in about five minutes later completely packed like sardines, leaving hundreds left behind on the platform.

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Voting closed 15

Sounds like a 'good' train pushing a disabled train down to Forest Hills.....

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Does anyone know how they are getting the carbodies from China to W. Mass? Are they coming into Providence or Boston? Do they get trucked west for assembly, then back east to Wellington?

Haven't seen any photos of that part of the operation, so I'm curious.

Oddly, CRRC is going to build cars for Chicago in Chicago, and cars for LA in Mass.

Sadly, none of this business is going to an American company.

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Voting closed 12

I agree, it would be nice if it were an American company, however the production plant is in Springfield, MA so the trains are built in the USA

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The new MBTA car bodies are made in China and finished in the USA. They are not made here.

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No American company builds trains.

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GE and Cat/Progress Rail build locomotives. Many companies build freight cars. But no one builds transit equipment, because most of America is sprawl.

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I count 6 systems in California alone. And that is one state. That's a decent market for any passenger car manufacturer.

The UK doesn't have any domestic passenger car manufacturers, either, though it should be noted that WABTEC, based in Pennsylvania, does do transit manufacturing in the UK, but not for the US market.

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Voting closed 17

U.S. is still king of the heap for diesel locomotives and the various types of freight cars by a humongous margin, because we have the largest and most mature freight network in the world. Anyone worth their salt is going to be importing our GE's (#1 in market share), EMD's, or rebuilt older power (because a well-maintained loco can easily last 5 decades, multiple rebuilds, and be re-sold to multiple owners). Or buying from various domestic freight car vendors because anything built to U.S. FRA standards is gold-standard build quality for hauling the most $$$-lucrative of goods anywhere else in the world. Nothing's about to challenge that dominance even with GE Rail being actively sold to Wabtec and some constant degree of merger/acquisition horse-trading in the freight railcar biz.

But that's about it for U.S. market power on rails. RR passenger railcars (commuter and intercity), metro/heavy rail subway railcars, and light rail are damn near kaput on this continent here except for Canada's Bombardier, which is still a dominant #1 in commuter rail coaches but has slipped up a bit lately on quality control for its subway and trolley division (and their kingpin aerospace div. is such a dumpster fire they may end up putting the rail division up for sale to foreign buyers to staunch the bleeding elsewhere). Bombardier, ironically, swallowed up Pullman and Budd who were the twin kings of U.S. railcar manufacturing. So at least U.S. dominance of decades past didn't necessarily leave the continent.

Siemens, now that it's merging with Alstom, is going for world domination in passenger RR's (they pretty much already make every new piece of Amtrak rolling stock and are a shoo-in for some humongous procurements now out to-bid). They're also making dramatic inroads with passenger (but not freight) locomotives, especially with those new Charger diesels that have turned out MUCH better in the field than the T's lemony-stink new HSP-46's. The Chinese (CRRC et al.) are likewise playing for keeps, willing to underwrite huge up-front losses in a price war to get themselves established as first-time bidders. CRRC has built many, many heavy-rail subway cars for Asia for systems very much like Red+Orange so that's all old hat to them. The Red+Orange cars should be decent, because they're pretty generic under the hood and hard for an experienced subway builder to screw up. It's North American railroads where CRRC are unproven newbies and a bit of an up-front risk, because the stuff they've built to-date is for freight-bereft Asia which doesn't even have Euroland-strict crashworthiness standards...let alone experience with the extremeness of U.S. RR regulations. I'd be wary of them winning any commuter rail coach contracts...we need another order of bulletproof Kawasaki bi-levels, not Far Eastern knockoffs like the newest Rotem/"Brokem" coaches.

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Voting closed 8

They come into the Port of Boston and get trucked to Springfeild for assembly. Then re-trucked to Wellington.

Also

Sadly, none of this business is going to an American company.

Define what is an American company? CRCC is a Chinese company, but that plant in Springfield employees so many American workers? Doesn't this count for something...

I'd rather see an overseas company setup shop here, and employ Americans than to have it 100% made overseas.

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Just think, Chinese intelligence services will be able to just randomly disable trains and disrupt service at key commuting hours. Who do they think they are, Keolis?

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... do that right now. Pick any electrical box at random and kick it.

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Voting closed 17

CRRC has built at least 2 plants as noted but the types of train cars to be built will be different. So the ones for LA and MBTA fit the manufacturing assembly profile for the plant in MA and the one in Chicago for the cars to be built there. I believe the one in Chicago is for heavy rail coaches like those on the MBTA commuter rail system, whereas MA is for subway-like cars. They have different profiles requiring different manufacturing needs.

The long term question is sustainability and whether imposed foreign tariffs will cause those plants to cut back or close after a specific date.

Note that while CRRC is a foreign owned company, the plant operates as a US corporation and employs US people. You may want to do some research on how many of our businesses here are owned by foreign entities. Grocery chains, banks, etc, have foreign ownership or majority control.

There are plenty of companies that build transit system trains and passenger service commuter trains. The question is whether they are willing to ramp-up a final manufacturing facility on US soil to meet the "Buy America Act" requirements. Some have, or had, such plants but some have closed or gone into hibernation. Examples would be Hyundai-Rotem (the builders of the most recent set of MBTA commuter rail coaches, and Talgo which built complete trainsets with locomotives. Talgo was burned when a GOP administration went into office in WI and the state cancelled an order on trainsets already built and sitting in a yard. After a prolonged court battle the trainsets were sold into service in the Pacific Northwest. Because of this, Talgo, a company predominately based in Spain, is having second thoughts. Also closed here is Kinky-Sharyo (sp?) which built the Type 7 MBTA Green line cars.

As of now GE is manufacturing locomotives but much of that business branch was sold outright as GE reorganizes and gets out of the transportation business. The one company that seems to be gaining favor is Siemens with a plant in CA. They are building locomotives for Amtrak and also built several trainsets for the Brightline service in FL. That service has several coaches and a power car (locomotive) on each end. They resemble an Acela trainset but are diesel powered.

The MBTA is currently in talks with Siemens to see if they can get a few of the newer locomotives they are building for Amtrak (some currently on the NEC passenger service - diesel operated on Amtrak Regional service) to lease to try before they make an order for more new locomotives. Unfortunately, this is a long process to resolve. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to trains.

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Voting closed 16

CRRC has built at least 2 plants as noted but the types of train cars to be built will be different. So the ones for LA and MBTA fit the manufacturing assembly profile for the plant in MA and the one in Chicago for the cars to be built there. I believe the one in Chicago is for heavy rail coaches like those on the MBTA commuter rail system, whereas MA is for subway-like cars. They have different profiles requiring different manufacturing needs.

Nope, the cars CRRC is building in Chicago are subway cars for the CTA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7000_series_(CTA)

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Has anyone spotted this train testing on other than the rebuilt "express" track between Community and Wellington yet?

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The new cars are also being tested on the main line tracks at night after regular service ends. If you're up at that time of night you might see one of the new trains driving around.

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The only testing photos I've seen have been on the "express" track, which is why I posed the question.

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Showing me photos is not believing. I'll believe it when I walk to Forest Hills one morning and see it in the station and ready to take me to work.

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Voting closed 12

2020 !!!

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