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Test Track for New Red Line Cars

Posted on May 8, 2017

BOSTON - The MBTA this fall will begin work on a piece of South Boston track that will be used for testing the new Red Line cars, beginning in 2019. As a critical step in the delivery and acceptance process, the track will be used to test the new cars after they come from the production facility in Springfield.

Every element of the cars' systems will be rigorously tested to ensure that the new trains operate safely and reliably upon introduction to passenger service. After the cars are fully tested and approved by an MBTA engineering team, the new Red Line trains will start serving customers on the T's busiest subway line.

Adjacent to Haul Road and known as Track 61, the stretch of track meets the requirements necessary for proper testing: 

  • No less than 1,800 feet of straight track for test runs.
  • Close proximity to the Red Line's maintenance facility.
  • Ability to move cars from the Red Line's maintenance facility to the test track with no impact on the main line.
  • Additional storage for vehicles in close proximity to the test track.

State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and State Representative Nick Collins recently took part in a site walk after being briefed by officials from the MBTA on the need for Track 61 as a test site.

The South Boston-area legislators and the MBTA agreed to schedule a public neighborhood meeting next month to share further details on the upgrades and listen to any feedback from the community. The MBTA has already assured Senator Forry and Representative Collins that work will not be performed overnight during construction.

At a projected cost of $32 million, upgrading of the track will commence in the fall after the MBTA solicits bids and awards a contract for the necessary work.

Currently on order from the CRRC MA Corporation, 252 new cars will replace the entire existing Red Line fleet by the end of 2023.

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.

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