For decades, they ferried hundreds of thousands of commuters along the Orange Line tracks during trips from Malden to Jamaica Plain and back again.
But soon, they’ll be headed to their final few stops: a demolition facility, followed by a steel mill.
In a few weeks, a batch of retired Orange Line trains will be carted off on flatbed trucks to the Costello Dismantling Co. scrapyard, according to MBTA officials, leaving only the memories of their fake wood paneling and uniquely patterned cloth seats behind.
In all, 120 train cars are destined for the scrapyard and will be destroyed in four phases of 30 trains at a time. Each phase will cost just over $1 million, officials said.
Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the T, said a large collection of idle, graffiti-stained train cars near Rivers Edge Drive in Medford, which neighbors recently told NBC 10 Boston have become an eyesore and safety concern, “will be the first to go.”
Getting rid of the rusty, outdated trains comes as the T undertakes its monthlong shutdown of the Orange Line to make repairs to the tracks and clean up stations.
MBTA officials said some of the trains set for demolition date back to 1979, and have been in storage at Wellington Station for years. Others are models that were added to the fleet in the intervening years.
“These old cars served the T well for decades, but it’s time for them to go to their final resting place,” MBTA general manager Steve Poftak said in a statement. “These cars no longer provide Orange Line customers with the smooth, comfortable ride they deserve.”
Newer, shinier trains, which are more high-tech than their predecessors, began entering service in 2019, and will soon make up the entire Orange Line fleet.
But at least two of the trains will live on in retirement.
Jim Schantz, president and CEO of the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine, said he hopes to handpick two decent cars from the fleet to put on display.
“We want to look for the most authentic [train cars], lack of rust to the extent that’s possible, and [the ones in the best] mechanical condition,” Schantz said. “We have one member who’s close to the rapid transit operations on the T and he keeps his eyes open.”
Typically, the T offers the museum a good deal on retired vehicles, parting with the trains for just $1. Once purchased, they’ll have a place on the museum’s campus near two retired Blue Line trains that were added to the collection in 2009, Schantz said.
In the past, trains have also been put up for auction, attracting buyers who had the resources and equipment necessary to reclaim them.
In 2020, a set of six vintage MBTA train cars sold for just $1,025 — plus the cost of transporting the hulking relics somewhere else. Two years earlier, a pair of Commuter Rail locomotives fetched $4,050 at auction. (The buyer also happened to be Costello Dismantling Co.)
Dan Costello,who owns Costello Dismantling, said he hasn’t had any serious offers to purchase the rusty train cars headed to his Middleborough scrapyard.
“I think I had one inquiry and it didn’t seem very well thought out,” he said. “They just didn’t seem to be too far down the road in their thinking.”
Although he’s willing to part with one or more of them if the price is right, any potential new owners will have their work cut out for them, he warned.
“They’re in pretty tough shape,” Costello said.
Once his company obtains the trains, the first step in the demolition process will be “an extensive asbestos abatement program” to clear any carcinogenic material from underneath the flooring, he said.
From there, they will be torn apart piece-by-piece until the metal components are small enough to be trucked away and then melted down and recycled.
“We use big shears,” Costello said.