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Orange Line cars in a Red Line yard

Orange and Red Line cars in the Cabot Yard in South Boston

The first couple of test models of the new Orange Line cars now sit with new Red Line cars in the MBTA's Cabot Yard in South Boston, which, of course, makes you wonder how they got there (secret deep-underground switch at Downtown Crossing?).

The T now has two of the new Orange Line trains running in service; some of the new Red Line cars are being tested, but the T said this morning it does not yet have a date for when they'll actually carry customers. You can get a good view of them from the James Kelly Bridge.



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Probably one at a time, on huge flatbed trucks, from the nearest suitable cargo dock.

(I used to live near a subway yard in New York.)

They could probably be pushed via the Grand Junction Line and Worcester Line, but yeah, big flatbed truck is much, much, much more likely.

...given that orange line cars stop at the "Green" (st) station al the time...;-)

Those two Orange Line cars are two of the first four Orange Line test cars built in China back in 2017. They were sent over to the Red Line last summer (on a flatbed truck — there's no super-secret underground switch) so they could get a jump on operator and maintenance training. (The new Orange Line and Red Line cars are virtually identical save for dimensions.) I'm not entirely sure why they're still there now that they have some actual Red Line cars on the property.

They'll eventually get sent out to the CRRC plant in Springfield to get retrofitted to the final spec and then get re-delivered to Wellington.


How did they get here? Adam himself told us himself last year!!!


...has been there all along


The Orange Line CRRC set on the Red Line was sent there for training purposes so train operators will be ahead of the curve when the red Line trains start to be delivered en masse.

Mechanically and electrically, the Orange and Red line trainsets are identical. The only difference is the body width and lengths that make the Red and Orange line different. Having all of the trains teh same will allow for better repair and service.

Don't the Orange Line and Red Line cars have a different track gauge? Like, how would the OL cars run on the RL tracks?

Nope. Both are Standard Gauge (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in).

The gauge is standard across the system. What isn't is the loading gauge. Red is the biggest and has the biggest clearances in tunnels/station platforms/etc. Orange, being smaller can run in red tunnels just fine (although the platforms won't line up/big gap). Blue Line being the smallest can run in either the Orange or Red, and I believe on the Orange at least the platforms would line up, as there were plans on the last Blue Line rolling stock refresh to send the old ones to the Orange Line to help the crunch there. It wasn't possible, though, due to how rusted out the old blue line rolling stock was.

Meanwhile, on the actual Orange Line tracks, there are 11 trains running at this instant, and all of them are 41 years old. https://newtrains.today reports one new Green Line train at the moment, and no new Red Line trains running for two days. Other than obvious COVID-19 reasons, why is it taking so long?


Reread what Adam wrote. None are ready for passengers.

The New Trains Today website regularly reports Red Line trains to be running. Maybe they are non-revenue test trips, the webpage doesn't say.

They only list revenue trips, I believe.

Just looked again, the Green and Orange Lines both had new trains. Perhaps the site uses rail fans to report the test runs.

All new trains, even those will all of the latest updates and fixes from the factory have to undergo a "burn-in" process where they are tested repeatedly for possible failures. On the Red line a test track was built out of the rarely used "Track 61" that followed Haul Road in South Boston to the waterfront area. The trains will go back and forth there multiple times then eventually will get a night series of runs when there are fewer or now revenue trains in service. This is a requirement of all flanged-wheel vehicles to assure safety and reliability when in regular service.

Worth noting is that the new control arrangement only has an operator compartment on certain vehicles. These are type "A" units. Those without an operator cab is a type "B: unit. To assure that all trains have an operator's control compartment set out right, trains will be configured A-B-B-A-B-A. Now, with that said, the "B" units will have emergency controls in a locked panel from which the train can be operated in the yard or maintenance facility, or in those rare occasions a train has to be taken out of service. So those control systems also have to be repeatedly tested along with the every-day operator's compartment.

When you add that all up with the required number of test hours imposed by the Federal Railroad Administration for things like propulsion and braking systems, it takes a lot of time to test a new type of train.

Unlike an automobile that may have less than 100 miles on it when new, a "new" train has to have thousands of miles on it before the first paying passenger sets foot in it.

The Federal Railroad Administration does not regulate subway systems.

There's a giant bureaucratic wall between subways and railroads in this country. Unlike, say, England where they can share tracks. This allows for major cost savings. There's no need to build parallel sets of tracks when one set will meet the need.

Here's a video of both types of trains at the original Kew Gardens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEghd7IDsc8

If such a super-secret track connection did exist, it would have to be a one-way connection. Orange to Red would be fine.

Red to Orange would make a Storrowing look like child's play.