New Red and Orange Line Cars

HelloBostonHi

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We sadly haven't gotten an update on where shells are, where vehicles are, production delays etc. in months. The January 25th board meeting has RL/OL Transformation on the agenda and while the vehicle procurement is somewhat separate to that it usually gets at least a slide or two so hopefully we here more then. Most recent thing I've found is NEtransit reporting that two new cars (1422/1423) were delivered this month and are in testing, which I believe brings us up to 28 cars on MBTA property, two away from the next trainset being ready. At our current unenthusiastic pace that would put us probably late February or early March for the next one to be in revenue service.
 

bakgwailo

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They aren't GPS. The trains ping little trackside RFID tags for the station identifiers since GPS reception doesn't penetrate some segments of tunnel. The tags are simple little things; it's the onboard computer that's screwing up the receipt for some reason.
Funny enough, that was one of the solutions I instantly went to in my mind. Not sure how they screw up RFID tags/reading them.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Funny enough, that was one of the solutions I instantly went to in my mind. Not sure how they screw up RFID tags/reading them.
It took over 15 years to get the RL 01800's to stop butchering the RFID readouts to complete self-parody, so this is a longstanding problem. Although funnily enough the identical system on the Green Line seems to nail it 99+% of the time without hiccups despite trawling way more complicated branch routing, and there's no technical reason whatsoever explaining why that line can be so flawless while the same exact thing on Orange + Red is a complete error-city. I don't ride Blue nearly often enough to get much of a sample size on that line's ASA's accuracy, but it's likewise a tried-and-true RFID ping of the same technical generation as Green's installation. The only complaint I've heard about Blue's ASA is that it's way too talky about surplus-info bus connections such that the announcements sometimes bleed into each other at close-spaced stations...though I think they've toned that excess down considerably with firmware updates to the ASA. Like Green, however, it doesn't accumulate many complaints for inaccuracy like has been noticed so far on Orange and has been a 25-year running farce on Red.


You're absolutely right, though. RFID pings are very hard to screw up, so the fact that it happens so regularly is baffling. It's probably not the trackside tags, because all those do is prompt the announcement and a broken tag would simply leave the ASA trigger absent on a station approach (which would be immediately noticeable for a quick overnight fix, as tags are 'semi-consumables' they stock for quick replacement). It's the onboard computers that are somehow still mangling such a dirt-simple readout.
 

RandomWalk

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The motor person on the RL would routinely trigger the intercom to cut off one of the periodic announcements, when I commuted in the before times. I got the general impression that they don’t like the ASA.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The motor person on the RL would routinely trigger the intercom to cut off one of the periodic announcements, when I commuted in the before times. I got the general impression that they don’t like the ASA.
Chicken/egg problem. The Red ASA is clownshoes-inaccurate, so it gets overriden often by necessity and habitually out of old habit for correcting the mass mistakes. The 01800's got some sort of firmware update circa 2005 to make them much more accurate than before, but the ASA screw-ups are still overfrequent occurrence overall and won't get substantially better until those cars are retired.

Green and Blue you almost never hear a screaming operator anymore dupe-overriding Frank's recorded voice. Early on in the ASA rollout there was some institutional resistance, but management squeezed them to cut that habit out over ADA compliance (a garbled, heavily local-accented voice ad libbing announcements being less by-law "accessible" than a clear and consistent recording). One-man Ops on the 3 HRT lines also implicitly culled that habit, as the operator in the lead car has more to pay attention to than the sound of his/her own voice unlike the old days when the 2 mid-set operators could squawk to excess.


I for one don't miss the shrill bleating of "WATCH THE DAHWRS THE DAHWRS AH CLOWSING" 10 times per trip, thank God.
 

jass

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Chicken/egg problem. The Red ASA is clownshoes-inaccurate, so it gets overriden often by necessity and habitually out of old habit for correcting the mass mistakes. The 01800's got some sort of firmware update circa 2005 to make them much more accurate than before, but the ASA screw-ups are still overfrequent occurrence overall and won't get substantially better until those cars are retired.

Green and Blue you almost never hear a screaming operator anymore dupe-overriding Frank's recorded voice. Early on in the ASA rollout there was some institutional resistance, but management squeezed them to cut that habit out over ADA compliance (a garbled, heavily local-accented voice ad libbing announcements being less by-law "accessible" than a clear and consistent recording). One-man Ops on the 3 HRT lines also implicitly culled that habit, as the operator in the lead car has more to pay attention to than the sound of his/her own voice unlike the old days when the 2 mid-set operators could squawk to excess.


I for one don't miss the shrill bleating of "WATCH THE DAHWRS THE DAHWRS AH CLOWSING" 10 times per trip, thank God.
Its rare to hear operators talk outside the US. Usually only for a service disruption
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Its rare to hear operators talk outside the US. Usually only for a service disruption
If it weren't for the Orange 01200's and Red 015/16/01700's still having no ASA as they run out the last of their lifespans and the 01800's being wonky 1st-gen mid-1990's ASA it'd probably be rare here too. As is it's now become exceptional for the Green Line operators to ever pipe in. They're obeying management's ADA dictate to not override Frank on the default announcements and generally now only audible it when extra situation-specific guidance is needed. And I can't remember the last time I heard a bus driver get on the P.A. at all, other than clearing up rear-door COVID alighting procedure confusion...as those Yellow Line announcements are plenty comprehensive. So that's probably where all 4 lines are going to be at completion of this CRRC order so long as they can fix the computer wonkiness in the new cars that's misreading the tags (where Green & Blue fleets seem to have zero trouble). I mean...yeah, we all have our favorite stories of the "Singing Green Line Operator" and "Tour Guide Green Line Operator" and "Barry White Smoove Red Line Operator" from days past. But those recollections are just warm respites from the 99 other times out of 100 you got nothing but garbled static or unhinged screaming over the P.A. Don't miss those days one bit. And yes...the accessibility angle is very real so the humans shouldn't be talking over the P.A. unless it's just-in-time specific info.


Commuter Rail, BTW, will have fleetwide ASA after the ongoing +80 Rotem bi-level order, stacked 50/50 to cab cars, displaces all the crumbling Bombardier and MBB single-level cabs that lack the ASA computer. Right now you still hear the conductor over the P.A. more often than not because it's a crapshoot on any schedule whether there'll be an ASA or non-ASA cab car assigned, but that will be purged out in 2-1/2 years tops. Single-level trailers and (for now, at least) the not-yet-rebuild-age 900-series Kawasaki bi's lack the interior & exterior scrolling screens but do seamlessly pipe the ASA audio if the cab car is equipped. If any of the least decrepit single-level cabs stay in service as set-asides for diesel Urban Rail service start short sets, they'll get enough of a systems touch-up to get the ASA computer installed before trawling any intra-128 schedules in their extended lives.
 

ra84970

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Its rare to hear operators talk outside the US. Usually only for a service disruption
Until you go to Tokyo and then you have automated announcements, operator announcements and platform master announcements all giving you the same advice on door closures, departure times, destinations, and thanking you for riding their company and line.
 

Bananarama

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I'd be nice to have an ASA about the need to request stops for the remainder of trip when going Westbound past Kenmore on the GL. I can't remember ever hearing an operator clearly state the need to do so (usually garbled and inaudible).

Also please for the love of God have Frank Oglesby record "Change here for the Silver Line" to replace the existing one.
 

bakgwailo

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Until you go to Tokyo and then you have automated announcements, operator announcements and platform master announcements all giving you the same advice on door closures, departure times, destinations, and thanking you for riding their company and line.
Don't forget all the station signage/boards and easy to use numbered stations (along with actual names). Makes it all... very easy to get around.
 

HelloBostonHi

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They claim 3 trainsets currently in full revenue service with 4 more planned to enter revenue service by end of FY2021, so by the end of June. They claim they have 3 in revenue service but they have been running 4, so it's not really a high standard but getting to 7 by July would be like triple the pace we have been going.

Similarly, 1 in service for the RL with a further planned 1 entering service by end of FY21.
 

Jahvon09

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I don't care HOW they do it, but just get them there. Commuters are tired of their ridiculously long delays & to keep on having to deal with those old tired decrepit rust buckets that keep on breaking down.
 

whighlander

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It took over 15 years to get the RL 01800's to stop butchering the RFID readouts to complete self-parody, so this is a longstanding problem. Although funnily enough the identical system on the Green Line seems to nail it 99+% of the time without hiccups despite trawling way more complicated branch routing, and there's no technical reason whatsoever explaining why that line can be so flawless while the same exact thing on Orange + Red is a complete error-city. I don't ride Blue nearly often enough to get much of a sample size on that line's ASA's accuracy, but it's likewise a tried-and-true RFID ping of the same technical generation as Green's installation. The only complaint I've heard about Blue's ASA is that it's way too talky about surplus-info bus connections such that the announcements sometimes bleed into each other at close-spaced stations...though I think they've toned that excess down considerably with firmware updates to the ASA. Like Green, however, it doesn't accumulate many complaints for inaccuracy like has been noticed so far on Orange and has been a 25-year running farce on Red.


You're absolutely right, though. RFID pings are very hard to screw up, so the fact that it happens so regularly is baffling. It's probably not the trackside tags, because all those do is prompt the announcement and a broken tag would simply leave the ASA trigger absent on a station approach (which would be immediately noticeable for a quick overnight fix, as tags are 'semi-consumables' they stock for quick replacement). It's the onboard computers that are somehow still mangling such a dirt-simple readout.
I apologize if this is taken as a diversion -- its just a bit of clarification of the RFID technology -- having spent quite a bit of time in the past few years mucking with such at various levels from Patent Filings to actually testing tags and readers in real-world situations -- including reading tags inside of moving packages on a conveyor

Here's a plausible scenario for the problem:

First a brief primmer on RFID
You have an active component -- the Reader complete with RF components, data acquisition components and a computer as well as some networking
the reader sends out pulses which both power the "Tag" and inquire as to its ID -- the ID in RFID

You have a purely passive component - -the Tag" which needs energy to operate its internal microelectonics and to in effect send the response back to the reader

To comply with the use of the spectrum [avoiding interference of licensed services] the RF [in the so-called ISM band around 900 MHz] is modulated into a complex sequence of sub pulses at changing RF frequencies
Throw in the fact that the train may be moving and changing its aspect with respect to the tag and there are going to be some outgoing inquiries which don't "catch" a perfectly functioning Tag and additional returns from Tags which get missed by the reader

This is where the computer and the logic controlling everything else gets involved --= if the reader tries and fails to get a response -- typically you try again -- until you either get a response which you can "read" run out of time or decide to abandon the "pinging" of that tag

If the re-reads time-out then the computer code needs to have a back-up plan. Otherwise the computer looks up the name of the station which coincides with the tag number and then plays the audio

So my guess for the most common path to failing to announce the station is that a particular reader on the train [either internally] or more likely in its antenna assembly or cabling is either semi-dead or intermittently reading tags. This would lead to the computer to possibly use either the most recent successfully read tag's information to enter the database or more likely take the next entry in the database -- if there were several failed reads -- you could get quite far behind

An alternative failure would be if a tag is replaced and someone makes an error in "linking the tag's ID" to the proper entry in the database -- then of course you could have both ahead as well as behind announcements

Sorry for the length of the above -- its as some science fiction writer said -- a technology sufficiently advanced seems like magic -- but sometimes the spells don't work as intended
 

Wash

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Really don't see why they couldn't just plug a cheap MP3 player with recordings of all the station announcements into the speaker system.

Edit: Yes I can, because minimizing operator workload as much as possible is important for safety.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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28 Orange cars in-service. Extrapolating from testing time, we're probably no more than 2 weeks from having a 5th full set as pairs 1422/1423 and 1424/1425 were both delivered by CRRC last month...22/23 were graduated into service a few days ago...and 24/25 are still in-testing but barring any unforeseen problems shouldn't take any longer than 22/23 did to graduate.
 

Jahvon09

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It's so nice to hear that another new Orange Line train set is about to enter revenue service. But what would really make me happy is to hear that when the MBTA plans to start retiring some of the old rail cars. We all know that they have been around for far too long. Longer than they should've been! Nothing more would please me than to hear that! :)
 

F-Line to Dudley

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It's so nice to hear that another new Orange Line train set is about to enter revenue service. But what would really make me happy is to hear that when the MBTA plans to start retiring some of the old rail cars. We all know that they have been around for far too long. Longer than they should've been! Nothing more would please me than to hear that! :)
6 of them already are retired. It's happening.
 

Jahvon09

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Good to hear, F-Line!! It's about time. Those are probably the ones that can no longer be repaired, or just too old to continue on. :)
 

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