Commuter rail fleet to get a facelift

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NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

People’s commute to work may become a whole lot more comfortable now that the MBTA has decided to update some of the aged commuter rail fleet.

The MBTA board decided to spend roughly $150 million to fix up 74 commuter coaches, which average 100,000 miles per year of service. They will also add seven new ones to the fleet.

The coaches just turned 20 and 21 years old and were designed for a minimum 25-year lifespan. T officials described the overhauls as “an essential element for maintaining the capacity and frequency of service for MBTA ridership” and predicted the work would enable the authority to get ten more years out of the coaches.

T officials said the coaches have deteriorated further in the four years since consultants determined that many areas of the coaches were “no longer in a state of good repair.”

Eighty-percent of the project will be reimbursed with federal funds.

It’s been about a month since the MBTA Board slammed executives from Hyundai Rotem USA for delays in building 75 double-decker commuter rail trains.

MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis said Wednesday that the company has not supplied metrics for the state to track progress. “This is not acceptable to us,” Davis said, adding that the next step would be to head down to Philadelphia and have a “heart-to-heart talk” with them on the production floor.

The original April 2008 contract required the Korean company to start delivering the cars more than a year ago, in the spring of 2011, with pilot cars arriving in March and the beginning of delivery in May.

A September 2010 revision pushed back the beginning of delivery to this past January.

According to the latest schedule, Hyundai Rotem will have to deliver the pilot cars this month and start the regular delivery next January.

T officials have been frustrated by Hyundai Rotem’s failure to provide metrics so that MBTA officials can track the progress of the manufacturing and they said if they are pushed to it they will end the contract.

“We will fire them if we are not satisfied,” said Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey. “If they think they have leverage over us, they’re wrong.”


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