MBTA delays rollout of new Orange Line cars till summer

Rollout of new Orange Line trains has been delayed once again, officials said Monday, with public use now likely to begin during the summer to allow additional time for software testing. The start date for the first of 152 new passenger cars had already been pushed from winter to spring to allow officials to complete vetting of the “complex” signal system created by a subcontractor.

MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville announced another delay Monday, explaining that officials decided that system would need an additional modification. Testing of the updated software will begin in late April or early May, Gonneville said, pushing the first passenger trip on the new cars — the first the Orange Line has seen in decades — to sometime this summer. “Originally, when I gave the presentation in January, we talked through that there was this potential delay,” Gonneville told reporters after the Fiscal and Management Control Board meeting Monday.

“We were hopeful that this delay was only going to extend us to March timeframe to putting trains into service, but now, it does look as though it’s going to be this summer.” The MBTA hired Chinese firm CRRC to manufacture its new train cars, and the company subcontracted Alstom to design a signal system.

Transit officials said one component would be “vital” in the MBTA’s use, so the software must be updated to ensure proper function.

Despite the delay, Gonneville said the broader goal of having all 152 new cars delivered by December 2021 to replace the current fleet is still on schedule.