MBTA orders larger LCD screens for new cars on Red and Orange lines; cost is $49m

The T will spend almost $49 million on additional improvements to the new Red and Orange Line fleets, targeting larger on-board digital screens and more handrails as worthwhile investments.

The Fiscal and Management Control board approved the new spending Monday as a change order to the MBTA’s more than $820 million contract with the Chinese manufacturer CRRC MA.

Hundreds of cars for both lines are still in production, and following Monday’s vote, they will now include features not included in the contract’s original scope. Most of the new spending, about $30.7 million, will go toward expanding onboard LCD displays that offer trip information.

The number of screens on each car will double, and the manufacturer will increase the size of the screens from 18.5 inches to 24 inches. Another $6.8 million will go toward more overhead handrails on Red Line cars, $1.3 million will install anti-icing systems, and there are several other technical improvements included in the updated order.

None of the new spending responds to issues that have emerged since the first new Orange Line cars entered service last year. Those problems –one with a door that prompted the T to take trains offline in September and another with a noise emanating from the wheels that shut down the trains in November — have been addressed at no cost to the T, officials said during a Monday presentation.

The T will acquire a total of 404 new cars from CRRC MA in planning to replace the entire Orange Line fleet by the end of 2022 and the entire Red Line fleet by the end of 2023. Several Orange Line cars have entered service already, and MBTA officials plan passenger service for the first new Red Line trains to begin this spring.