Monday, June 18, 2012

Guest Post: Green Line Trolleys Get New Lease on Life

Here is another great guest post by Scott Page! You can follow him on twitter : @ScottridestheT

MBTA Board of Directors Approves Overhaul of Type 7 Cars

      Identified by their spacious interiors, passenger friendly seating arrangement, and faux wood grain panels the Type 7 light rail vehicles have been the workhorse of the MBTA’s Green Line for the past two decades. The first one hundred cars, built by Japanese manufacturer Kinki-Sharyo, quietly entered service between 1986 and 1987 with an additional order of twenty cars arriving in 1997. The Type 7s have been solid performers since the day they arrived and have single-handedly saved the Green Line from meltdown twice in their service life – the first time upon their arrival in 1986 and for the second time around the turn of the millennium. The cars, now entering their 26th year of service, recently received the approval of the MBTA’s board of directors to receive a mid-life overhaul expected to extend the life of the trolleys for decades to come.
The $104 million contract with Alstom Transportation Inc of New York calls for the overhaul of the 86 active Type 7 cars from the 1986 order. The contract also carries a provision which allows for the MBTA to overhaul the twenty cars from 1997, which are currently too young for a rebuild, at a later date.
The early 80s were a difficult period for the Green Line. The last of the PCC trolley cars from the 1940s had fallen into disrepair and a fleet of light rail vehicles built by Boeing in the mid-70s were plagued with an assortment of mechanical problems. Car shortages became a frequent service disruption. The arrival of the Type 7s allowed for the retirement of the last PCC cars – with the exception of the small fleet of fully restored cars which still serves the Mattapan-Ashmont High Speed Line – and provided enough cars for the Green Line to meet its requirements regardless of how the temperamental Boeings were performing.

      In the late-90s the MBTA attempted to make the Green Line ADA compliant by introducing a new fleet of 100 Type 8 cars from Italian manufacturer Breda. The cars, which feature a low-floor center for the elderly and handicapped, were intended to replace the last of the aging Boeings and work alongside the Type 7s. But instead of ushering the Green Line into a new era of user friendly service the Type 8s arrived with a thud – literally. 

Plagued by derailments, propulsion and braking problems, and an inability to successfully trainline with existing equipment the Type 8s slowly trickled into service throughout the 2000s – being pulled from service briefly in 2002 – with the last car entering service in 2007. 
As the Type 8s entered service at a molasses-like pace the Boeing fleet dwindled in size and ability. By the time the cars were pulled from service in 2007 they were only capable of doing one to two trips per day. While the Type 8s floundered and the Boeings dropped out of service the Type 7s served as the backbone of the line moving people into and out of the City of Boston. 
After 26 years of remarkable service the cars deserve the TLC and pampering they’re about to receive to ensure they provide quality service for the next two decades.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

New Segment: Words from the train

     I would like to start out this post with an apology. So far this summer I have only posted once. I know that many of you have, in the past, depended on some of my posts when trying to plan your daily commute or when your just looking for some crazy information about the MBTA. The truth is this blog is truly like a full time job and it is sometimes hard to devote the right amount of time for it, especially when you are stretched thin already. As of today however, I am turning over a new leaf! Since I have been regularly traveling into the city on the train this summer, and that is truly the only time I have to my self, I have decided to start a "Words from the train segment" to help keep all of you informed while also having a little bit of fun! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions! Also, the MBTA Wi-Fi on the commuter rail is sometimes unpredictable so just bare with me!
MBTA GP-40 "Geep" #1126

Sunday June 17, 2012 

     Today I am riding the the 10:00am train to Lowell out of North Station. I love riding the MBCR Commuter Rail on the weekends, except for when I forget that the MBTA runs a different schedule. 

July 1st is steadily approaching and hopefully all of you know by now what that means! Not only is the MBTA increasing fares (it's going to cost almost 20$ for a round trip to Lowell) and cutting service but they are also banning all alcohol related advertising on MBTA property. So that means the Amstel Light ads that are at North Station will probably be the last alcohol ads to ever be seen on the MBTA. I have to admit that is an awesome way to go out, those ads are really interesting. Go check them out whil you can!

 In regards to the fare increase, the MBTA has already started posting the new fare structure on all of their fare vending machines. Personally, I thought that posting a sticker with the new fares and then having another sticker on the other side with the old fares was a little confusing but see for yourself. 

Once again just as a friendly reminder fares ARE going up on July 1st!


The North Station Draw 
Another part of these segments that I am really looking forward to writing is just different sights and observations that I have seen around the system. Today, was actually a very interesting day around the MBTA system. Commuter rail coach #1607 (which I am sitting on right now) has a brand new paint job and the car looks absolutely stunning! Today, almost all of the morning trains out of North Station were being pulled by one of the MBTA's GP-40 locomotives! I love seeing these locomotives out and about in the system. They primarily run on the North Side. The one thing I truly love about these engines is that they are extremely reliable. This is probably because they are ex-freight engines. Leaving North Station today I was able to witness an often rare sight. The right draw of the North Station draw bridge was raised! Lastly, one of my biggest observations I had was on the Orange Line. Most of you who ride the orange line know that the cars are often dark, cold (because they have the BEST A/C), and smelly. I'm not sure what can be done about the smell but it looks as if the MBTA is installing newer my energy efficient lighting on most of the Orange Line fleet.

Well thats all I have for this weeks "Words from the train." Look for more segments in the coming weeks!
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