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Old 10-22-2013, 12:32 PM   #5
F-Line to Dudley
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 4,595
Re: New Red and Orange Line Cars

As long as they buy from a reputable vendor and the base model is derived off of something else in reliable use on another subway system, HRT orders are pretty hard to screw up. Where the T always, always get themselves into trouble with "generic" orders is by tapping an unproven manufacturer and/or throwing subcontractors at it to fuss around with custom designs on things that don't need to be custom-designed. The Rotem coaches have both mistakes: they took a generic coach design that's been around for 35 years (the Bombardier BiLevel, of which their Kawasaki bi's are carbon copies of), got somebody who'd never built something like that before whose shoddy craftsmanship is showing, and went OCD to an extreme doing new types of custom/proprietary computer controls in the cab cars that don't work right. The GP40MC locomotives were another example of screwing up the un-screwupable: taking bulletproof, universally deployed locos secondhand and then rigging them up with wacky computer controls that still have a mind of their own 15 years and 1 rebuild later.

If they don't pull that shit on this order, we shouldn't have much to worry about. The Siemens Blue cars were actually a bit of a similar risk, using an inexperienced HRT vendor and doing some unorthodox things with (yep) mainly the software. The difference was Siemens is supremely well-experienced building everything else, especially LRV's, so HRT cars weren't too big a reach and they pounced out the problems. As long as the new cars are based on the 0700 design with few modifications other than OL and RL dimensions (the carbody size/shape being the least expensive part of the car and affecting none of the guts or systems), we know what we're getting. But even if somebody else wins the bid, the difference between more Siemens cars and a proven make by somebody else is so small that it'll work equally well.

Just have a look at what the best modern cars are on other legacy HRT systems. NYC Subway, PATH, Chicago L, and several others worldwide that more or less use the same type of cars as NYC. The Orange and old Blue cars from Hawker-Siddeley were based straight off the recently retired PATH PA3's. The Red Line 01500/01600/01700's are about as generic as can be and share a lot of similarities with NYC's famous Redbird cars. Basically anything by Bombardier or Kawasaki adapted from a recently or ongoing order somewhere else should be more than fine. The ongoing NYC R179 order or Chicago 5000 series from Bombardier would do fine here (in pairs instead of the quad- or quint-car sets the MTA is ordering). The Bombardier factories are actively pumping out about 800 units total for those two agencies, so a *lightly* adapted version of those cars would probably fetch the T a very nice unit cost on scale. Kawasaki R160 (NYC) updates would also be pretty nice, especially since they use very similar Siemens traction motors as the Blue Line 0700's. Those NYC cars are the ones with the neat electronic onboard system maps; would be hugely valuable here to tie into the new live train tracking system to potentially estimate arrival times at key stations for onboard passengers.

Lots of good options out there since so many metro systems have been replacing ancient HRT cars over the last 8-12 years and the big boys have been pumping them out almost nonstop and gotten good at stamping out bugs. If the T's falling into the same trap as before, we'll (un)fortunately know pretty early on in the process.

BTW...articulated cars are not a good idea here until somebody else with a legacy system proves they work bulletproof. NYC is strongly considering those for its 700+ car R211 order that'll go out to bid in a couple years. But I want to see how the articulation joints hold up to wear and tear on some of their tightest B-division curves before throwing similar vehicles at Harvard curve. I'm sure it can be done, but let somebody else be that trailblazer. Those are maybe an option for when the 01700's are retired in about 10 years and CBTC re-signaling may be on the table for substantially tighter headways.
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