New Red and Orange Line Cars

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,651
Reaction score
1,540
They'll need to prove all of the new trains as they come in, yes? Not just the first set?
To varying degree. The test track is only for the telemetry logging where you're picking off faults that would appear anywhere after enough duty cycles of operation. And those tend to be weighted heaviest to pilot cars and early deliveries where the fixes result in actual change requests to the manufacturer techs. i.e. The test track is going to weight early and 'obvious' at the faults it logs. It's largely agnostic to application, so for example this is why the Blue Line 0700's started their Boston careers on the OL Wellington test track for several months before ever being shipped to Orient Heights (Blue of course not having any test track of its own).

Then you have line-specific testing, where you have to get your reps in doing simulated runs. That's where you find out how these things handle "switching problems at Alewife" or speed enforcement on particular mission-critical stretch of track for proper headway management, or test for door-stick issues by making all-stops non-revenue runs, or see how they handle running at full HVAC power draw over a potentially vulnerable at-capacity power section, or do the weight simulations with sandbag 'passengers' to test bridge loadings. You can only do that on the mainline...mostly overnight, but also as we saw this past week with the Red pilot set on available off-peak slots.


Once you get deeper into the orders and have accumulated most of your change requests, each new delivery spends a lot less time on the test track before graduating straight to mainline testing. Because at that point most of the new faults you uncover are purely line-situational (door-stick, etc.) and only uncoverable by skewing your testing reps to the mainline. You'll see fewer and fewer test cars packed inside and out with telemetry wires and sensors duct-taped to every surface and snaking out under the door lips to the undersides, because focus turns from breadth of telemetry collection to consistency of telemetry collection. This is about the threshold where Blue Line deliveries 16 years ago stopped coming to Wellington and started getting unload straight to Orient Heights; the ones that malingered at Wellington were generally the most heavily modded earlier cars needing add'l testing on the mods, and not the factory-fresh deliveries that baked in any change requests right from Day 1 assembly.

By that mid-order threshold through the end where cars are getting graduated way more quickly into service after delivery, they're not spending much time on the test track at all before going into mainline test rotation. And are doing so with little to no extra onboard telemetry equipment. That's simply burn-in...racking up reps of simulated runs to see if the consistency holds up. The test tracks will get their use because the rate of deliveries is so much quicker on the backside, but each pair spends very little time there before going straight to a short-duration but intense duty-cycle run on the mainline before graduating quickly into revenue service.


Thus...the most critical period for test track usage is in that "15% in" threshold of the order where you're past the first purely-test pilots, past the first large-scale warranty mods, and in that sensitive part where you're trying to bring down the rate of new telemetry faults. That point where you can start reducing the number of sensors painstakingly taped up across the cars and start multitasking with mainline testing of more total cars watched by fewer tech eyes...filling up the overnight shift with simulated runs, slotting a few on the far off-peak without fear of it hosing revenue service. Red is basically sitting at this threshold right now. The pilot set has already moved onto purely mainline testing and simulated runs, in pursuit of that quoted early-Fall timetable for first revenue tests.

Now...what's changed is the great COVID pause. Orange has gotten months of bonus time on the Wellington test track, and simultaneously all the bandwidth in the world to multitask its sets with mainline testing because of the much-reduced service levels. Orange being the identical base model in all but dimensions for Red means that a lot of the activity you would've seen on Track 61 has been shifted to Wellington, with less urgency for CRRC to rush-release another 6-10 cars of Red testers because the OL base model has been able to take on much more completist telemetry logging. So by circumstance you are now going to see a Red testing schedule skewed much more heavily towards mainline testing than test track. That makes sense and is fully explainable by the COVID reshuffle. Shit happened, and they chose the most expedient way to adjust.


What doesn't make any sense is why Track 61 hasn't been used when right now and for the last 1-2 months would've been the ripest time of all to do back-and-forth repeat telemetry logging of the Red sets already on the property. It was a fair question from the beginning when this Track 61 build was proposed "Why aren't the Cabot leads and their crossovers enough test track for doing this?" They were adamant in front of the FCMB that it wasn't enough...that there were things beyond simply dispatching test moves vs. regular deadheads on the Cabot leads that made them not enough, and that the Cypher St. maint shed too was a critical piece. That's the part that baffles. It appears the Cabot leads were indeed enough, because they crammed 3 months worth of testing on those alone. Granted, that was easier with daily revenue service running on reduced schedule, but what of the "above-and-beyonds" mandating the never-used shed? They apparently got all that done right from the main carhouse...despite the fact that the carhouse has been busier than usual rotating the higher quantity of daily unused trains in for maint TLC during the reduced service levels.

So if the Red pilots now thoroughly on the mainline-only portion of their testing are going to graduate to revenue trials without using it, and Orange is absorbing more of the late-stage shakedown testing as the base order...it is fair question for the Board to revisit the supposed urgency they were sold on for appropriating the $$$ for this never-used test track and shed. Because even with the unforeseen COVID reshuffle there's clearly also a large gap in advertised urgency vs. actual urgency. Where did all the shed's functions disappear to in the reshuffle? Where did the shakedown inadequacy of the Cabot leads disappear to in the reshuffle? Those are completely fair ass-covering questions, because right now is when we were supposed to be seeing that 'urgency' value proposition for the 61+shed build being realized...not on the backside of the order that's bulk-weighted to mainline testing.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,651
Reaction score
1,540
Maybe somebody could drop a hint to the Globe reporters that there might be FRA compliant gondolas that could use Track 61, but "fly" over Cabot, Southampton and Widett. :cool:
"Dual modes": the universal solvent. :unsure:


But seriously...once the RL test track misadventure is done there's not any additional rapid transit uses they can milk out of that shed. Because while the FRA out-of-service designation can stay in effect indefinitely if there's no immediate RR use it's still not a permanent accomodation. CSX didn't trade down from ownership to trackage rights to never again collect a penny's worth of revenue from Port of Boston. They did it because Massport had bigger ideas, and it was better to let them be in full stewardship of enacting those bigger ideas. They're absolutely going to ask "You ever getting this port freight show on the road?" if plans keep collecting dust in a file cabinet, and if they have to light a fire under Massport's ass they can be the ones to file 30-day reactivation notice with the FRA to get some attention. Doesn't mean freight trains will be running in 30 days of said filing...but it does mean if the shed is overstaying its lonely welcome connected to RL third rail they can evict the rapid transit connection and force its reconnection to the Old Colony. As a pot-stirring move that'll get some immediate results.

Rather than wait for the inevitable "WAITAMINUTE! We need to commission another passenger study before doing anything!" ritualistic lighting of spare budget on fire to make the end of the RL-connection interlude that much more senselessly overthought/overwrought and full of pants-on-head pitches from pols and execs who would never in their lives be caught dead on transit (hell...just pre-pencil in "Gondola Alternative" for entertainment purposes), maybe some deft sleight-of-hand can deflate Shirley Leung's head before it threatens to blow and kill us all.

"Hi, Global Cement? This is Massport. I know you haven't taken a sand car delivery at the pier in 25 years, but have you ever considered going back to rail?"​
"Massport, Global here. We do lots of rail at our other locations so still have an active contract with CSX, but honestly barge rates are so much better at this location I can't see us ever going back."​
"What if we greased some skids and got you a plum rate reduction? Would you commit to taking cars 2 nights a week from a Readville switcher?"​
"Probably not."​
"What if we rebuilt your loading dock with a 'multimodal grant' and gave you a free trackmobile we found cheap on eBay?"​
"OKAY!"​
"Two nights per week, right?"​
"Right, whatever!"​

Yeah...it's chintzy, contrived, and just a little bit bastard. But does beat a lot of the unicorn-pitching drama to the punch by saying "Welp...30-day reactivation notice just got handed down. Gotta get to work on the track grinding and repairing Cypher St. crossing. You find bandwidth for a too-many-chefs study on your own time, 'cause we got shit to do. Oh, yeah, and commuter rail is going to start using the shed and Cypher St. yard next month for MOW staging. And...oh by the way...minimum revenue target is now 10 sand cars per week, so try to moor your unicorn pitches to a farebox recovery baseline for a change. Meanwhile, imma go dust off that Tide St. spur render to Marine T. now that we're cooking with some gas! La-la-la...Shirley Who?!?"

Contrived-as-all-hell a scenario that it is...at least something ends up happening unstuck in the real world involving nonzero revenues and nonzero utility generated by the corridor, and bends the unicornal navel-gazing into binding itself to some TBD greater degree of reality-based constraints as a result. I'll take it.
 
Last edited:

Jahvon09

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Messages
1,630
Reaction score
44
I hate to be the one to complain, but what the hell seems to be taking so damn long to get the new trains up and running? Those crumbling shitholes that were in service since President Ronald Reagan was in office are still in service. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed them down even more. When will they be running again? :mad:
 
Last edited:

Top