MEDFORD — State officials got a look at a new Orange Line train Tuesday, stepping aboard one of four cars the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is testing at Wellington Yard.
The first new train is expected to enter passenger service late this year, with more trains following until the fleet is fully replaced by 2021. In the meantime, the new trains will add to the existing fleet, which should boost capacity by increasing the frequency of rush-hour service.
“It’s pretty clear they’ll be a terrific addition to the fleet,” said Governor Charlie Baker, who inspected the new cars. “Once these start running, it will dramatically increase the system’s capacity during rush hour. Anyone who rides the Orange Line during rush hour knows the single biggest issue we’ve got there is that we don’t have enough trains moving through at that point in time.”
The trains feature more space for passengers, seats that fold up, digital displays to show the next stops, and wider doors, which should ease boarding and disembarking on a notoriously crowded line.
Most of the 152 cars are being built by the Chinese company CRRC at a factory in Springfield. They were originally ordered in 2014 under former governor Deval Patrick, as were about 132 new Red Line cars.
In 2016, the Baker administration expanded the Red Line buy to fully replace its fleet by the end of 2023. Trains on both lines will cost about $843 million.
Vehicle purchases are a major component of a five-year, $8 billion infrastructure spending plan the T’s board of directors approved Monday. It also includes work on tracks, signals, and power supplies, as well as the installation of a new fare collection system and the Green Line extension to Somerville. The T is also starting to eye replacement Green Line cars that could double capacity, though the agency has not yet identified funding for that purchase.
On Tuesday, less than two hours after Baker’s visit, the T announced Orange Line delays because of a train with mechanical problems.Adam Vaccaro can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamtvaccaro.