New MBTA commuter rail cars expected in April

The MBTA expects to put three new commuter rail cars into service in April. (matthrono/Flickr)
The MBTA expects to put three new commuter rail cars into service in April. Credit: matthrono/Flickr

After years of delays, the MBTA said it expects to put three new commuter rail cars into service next month, and have 15 running by the fall.

South Korea-based Hyundai Rotem received a $190 million state contract to build 75 double-decker coaches five years ago. The first four cars were set to arrive in 2010, but the MBTA didn’t get them until last fall.

In December, transportation officials threatened to cancel the contract. In a letter to Hyundai, MBTA Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Davis complained about the firm’s “seemingly lack of commitment to improve its chronically unsatisfactory performance.”

“Unfortunately, Hyundai Rotem inaction, inattentiveness and generally poor performance have forced the MBTA to a final decision point relative to the declaration of default based on a material breach,” Davis wrote. “Failing dramatic improvement and immediate corrective measures designed to remedy these defaults … the MBTA must consider terminating the contract for cause.”

The threats may have worked. On Monday, MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott visited the company’s Philadelphia factory and told the Boston Globe she was “impressed with the organization.”

“We’re not going to compromise quality,” Scott said. “You can tell there is a commitment from Hyundai.”

All 75 of the new coaches should be ready by next year. Scott pledged to keep a close eye on the company’s progress.

“You never put them on ­automatic pilot, so this won’t be the last time that I’ll be down there,” Scott said. “The proof is in the pudding, at the end of the day.”

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