The MBTA is still tinkering with those new Red and Orange Line cars.
The agency now wants to upgrade the digital displays coming on the 404 new cars, increasing the size of the screens to 24 inches and doubling the number of displays in the cars. Each New Red Line car will have eight screens, Orange Line cars six screens.
They will convey passenger information such as maps of the line that show the train’s current location and information about bus and other rail connections at various stops.
“We think these are really helpful in terms of communicating with customers,” said MBTA general manager Steve Poftak. “People like them and we felt it was an important customer amenity, so we are going to have them on all 404 cars.”
Other changes include handrails that suspend from the ceiling along the center of Red Line cars, which are larger than the new Orange Line cars. The cars will also receive de-icing equipment.
Poftak said the changes are based on feedback from riders and MBTA personnel. The T estimates these upgrades will cost $49 million, with the agency’s oversight board scheduled to vote on the matter next week.
The T is paying nearly $1 billion to the Chinese rail manufacturer CRRC to build the cars, with the final assembly being done at a new factory in Springfield. Both fleets are expected to be fully replaced by 2023.
The additional video screens were already on the 12 new Orange Line cars — comprising two train sets — that have been put into service, and will now be added to the rest as they roll out. Those two train sets were twice taken out of service to fix problems, mostly recently to replace rub pads that had early signs of wear. The costs of those fixes were covered under warranty and borne by CRRC, not the MBTA.
The next Orange Line train is expected to enter service in February. The T has said the first new Red Line train will enter service this spring, though the agency has not yet completed construction of a testing facility for them in South Boston.