Were you hoping that enjoying a cup of coffee and perhaps a slice of pie inside a former Orange Line train might exorcise all those memories of inexplicable delays, unidentifiable odors and fellow riders who don’t take off their backpacks?
Sorry. You’re probably out of luck.
The oldest cars on the Orange Line, some of which date back to the Carter administration, are headed for the scrapyard, where they will be dismantled and an accredited contractor, Costello, will work to dispose of components like caulking and undercoating that contain hazardous materials. And because crews have to disassemble the trains to get those components out, converting one of the vehicles for a more creative, stationary use is pretty much off the table.
“We’ve gotten lots of inquiries from people who want to buy one or [ask] why can’t you turn it into a diner, why can’t you do this, why can’t you do that,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said Thursday. “Really, our priority is safety, of course, and compliance with the [Department of Environmental Protection] requirements, so that’s why we’re scrapping them through an accredited facility that can process them.”
These decommissioned trains are a result of the MBTA’s long effort to transition to entirely new Orange and Red Line fleets. However, the process has hit many speed bumps, with multiple delays from its contractor CRRC. On Thursday, MBTA Deputy General Manager Gonneville announced that the CRRC will need to delay delivery again as a result of supply and labor issues.
Orange Line riders are currently always riding new cars, according to the T. There are 78 new cars already in the MBTA’s Wellington car house or actively in service, Gonneville said. But the remaining 74 cars are still in progress. The CRRC was originally expected to deliver all 152 Orange Line cars by January 2022; the target was then delayed until April 2023. The latest delivery date is summer 2023.
The final Red Line cars are now expected to be delivered in summer 2025.
Once more of the new Orange Line vehicles roll into service, Poftak says more old cars could also be scrapped.
Not all of those oldest cars are necessarily doomed, though: Poftak said the T has offered two vehicles to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine, which describes itself as “the first and largest Electric Railway Museum in the world.” The museum has not yet confirmed if it will accept that offer, according to Poftak.
“I don’t believe there is a personal or commercial opportunity to purchase these vehicles,” he said. “If there is a commercial opportunity, we’ll take advantage of it.”