News & Reviews News Wire CRRC won’t be able to meet schedule calling for three-year-late delivery of MBTA cars

CRRC won’t be able to meet schedule calling for three-year-late delivery of MBTA cars

By | January 26, 2023

Agency’s board is told no cars have been delivered for seven months

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Rapid transit train operates on open-air track with city skyline in distance
Rapid transit train operates on open-air track with city skyline in distance
An MBTA Orange Line test train of CRRC equipment departs the Forest Hills station in Boston on Jan. 22, 2023. The MBTA board was told Thursday that CRRC would be unable to meet a new schedule that calls for completion of its equipment order some three years late. Scott A. Hartley

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority hasn’t received any new rapid-transit cars from CRRC’s Springfield, Mass., factory in seven months, and the company won’t meet a new schedule calling for completion of its 404-car order by September 2026, the agency’s board of directors was told today (Thursday, Jan. 26).

And the long-term future of that factory looks doubtful, given government restrictions on dealing with the Chinese manufacturer.

The Boston Globe reports the most recent delivery schedule calls for delivery of the 152 Orange Line cars by December 2023 and the 252 Red Line cars by September 2026, but interim MBTA General Manager Jeff Gonneville said CRRC won’t meet that schedule — which in itself is three years behind the original completion date of September 2023. He said the agency hopes to have a more accurate schedule next month.

To date, the MBTA has received 78 Orange Line cars and 12 Red Line cars, and not all of those are in service. The Globe detailed massive issues at the factory in a story earlier this month [see “News report describes ‘toxic environment …,’” Trains News Wire, Jan. 16, 2023].

Gonneville said the agency “needs to take a step back and take a fresh look at this contract, and really begin evaluating different strategies and using to continue to ensure that the T gets safe and reliable cars both on the Orange Line and Red Line here as quickly as possible.” The delayed equipment is supposed to replace 54-year-old Red Line cars that were meant to be retired in 1994, and 42-year-old Orange Line cars slated for replacement in 2006.

Meanwhile, reports that Gonneville also noted the limited prospects for the Springfield factory. Under a 2019 federal law, CRRC can only solicit federally funded business from transit agencies with which it had already established contracts. In addition to the MBTA, those are the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the LA Metro subway. A separate subsidiary is building cars for the Chicago Transit Authority at a factory in Illinois.

“Essentially, CRRC is limited in future work they can do,” he said. No other work is currently scheduled for the Springfield factory once the MBTA contracts are complete.

The MBTA initially contracted with CRRC to build 284 cars for the two transit llines for $566 million in 2014, then ordered another 120 Red Lilne cars in 2016 at a cost of $277 million. Gonneville said Thursday those bids were $200 million lower than competitors Bombardier, Kawasaki, and Hyundai Rotem.

14 thoughts on “CRRC won’t be able to meet schedule calling for three-year-late delivery of MBTA cars

  1. In a couple of posts in this thread, it is taken as a given that the rolling stock order was given to the low bidder per law. I have to question that. No two railcar manufacturers offer the same product. What usually hppens is an RFP – Request for Proposals — where the government agency weighs the proposed product against the proposed price tag. Negotiations go back and forth.

    Complicating the above is the government agency’s desire that the product be “built” (actually, assembled from components) within the borders of the Commonwealth. Meaning that the Commonwealth builds the factory for them and issues grants for working training. And the federals assigning a USA component percentage. Those of us who have bought a Subaru assembled in Indiana know that the USA parts component percentage on the Monroney Sticker is subject to manipulation.

    Add to that whatever discretion MBTA managers have in, well, let’s not go there.

  2. From the prior Trains article:
    The Globe spoke to former workers who said they quit over their frustrations in working at CRRC or were let go after disagreements with other employees or supervisors. One described taking a day off and returning to find a wall had been installed in a car that he had said was awaiting a part, requiring the wall to be removed so the part could be installed. In frustration, he said, he quit on the spot.

    Another employee described workers watching movies on their phones, pretending to work while awaiting parts or testing cars that they knew were missing parts.

    The Globe also obtained a letter in which an MBTA official said key suppliers Wabtec Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc. were “withdrawing their support due to commercial issues” — apparently a reference to payment problems, at least in the case of Wabtec, based on meeting notes obtained by the Globe.

  3. Another textbook example why government should not be forced to accept the lowest bidder! The Amtrak bi-level cars the various states wanted to buy is another. Not only do we – the taxpayers – get what we pay for, we may never get it, or if we do it is years late, doesn’t work right, ends up in litigation and costs way more than the losing highest bidder. There has to be more criteria then simply cost!

  4. And there are people who think the government would be better at handling our health care and electricity supply. This example and that of Amtrak, veteran’s healthcare and others show they cannot do so.

    1. Huh? It is the (?)private(?) Chinese company that is failing in its work. I get tired of seeing all this political BS on this site. By the way WE are the government.

    2. Maynard I do think Robert was referring to MBTA as the gov’t agency. Or more broadly stated the Commonwealth.

  5. when are the SEPTA cars going to be done? No mention of that. Are they in line after the MBTA cars? This is total BS. What an embarrassment.

  6. I predicted back in 2014 when Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration arranged to give the contact to CRRC that the T would in all likelihood have to significantly cut service on the Red and Orange Lines for lack of operable cars long before enough of the new cars were in service. I stand by that prediction. The existing cars were crying out for replacement when Patrick first took office in 2006. And he ignored the issue and the T in general, prioritizing getting MA open to the sleazy, slimy resort casino gambling interests. It wasn’t until late in his second term, after he got the casino folks fixed up and got 13.4m of MA taxpayer $$$ appropriated that when added to FAA $$$ put Pittsfield over the top to extend the main runway at Pittsfield Municipal by a little less than 1000 feet, that he addressed the subway car replacement issue. Btw, Pittsfield Municipal is an airport that even after the runway extension is only capable of handling private and corporate aircraft. And this from a governor with a big fat blue D next to his name. Yeah, a real man of the people from the political party the passenger rail/transit advocates claim is most sympathetic to building and expanding rail transportation.

    1. Mark, if anyone still believes the Dems are the party of the working people, they must not read the newspapers.

    2. Charles, the trouble is most people don’t read newspapers any more! The younger generation gets their news filtered from social media, which is neither social, nor really media, as in “news media”.

  7. I guess you get what you pay for. Someone should have asked how they could possibly undercut by that much. Of course the other three contractors have had their share of trouble in the past

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