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MBTA says new Orange Line trains re-entering service; new Red Line train to return by ‘end of the year’

One by one, the shiny new cars are coming back on line.

One of the MBTA's new Orange Line trains on display in 2019. Lane Turner / The Boston Globe

Nearly six months after one derailed, the MBTA’s shiny new Orange Line trains are getting back on track.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said Monday that two of the four new Orange Line trains that the agency pulled from service in March are now back in service, after the first returned to the tracks on Aug. 20. And the third and fourth are set to be re-introduced sometime next month, Pesaturo said in an email.

However, riders may have to wait a bit longer before they can once again step into a new Red Line train, which officials previously hoped would be back this summer.

According to Pesaturo, the single new Red Line train debuted by the MBTA last winter won’t be back until “before the end of the year,” as crews continue to address the issues that caused the Orange Line derailment.

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It’s also too early to say if any additional new Red Line trains will enter service this year, Pesaturo said.

MBTA officials pulled all five new CRRC-manufactured Orange and Red line trains from service to investigate the cause of the slow-speed Orange Line derailment on March 16.

Jeff Gonneville, the MBTA’s deputy general manager, said during a meeting in June that truck pads that help the trains turn, which investigators later found had been abnormally wearing down, were “more than likely” one of “the key contributing factors” that led to the Orange Line derailment, along with issues with the track switch.

The incident resulted in no injuries, though video released this past June revealed a small, fiery explosion outside of the cars.

It also resulted in the third — and longest — time that the new Orange Line cars have been taken out of service, just the latest setback in the agency’s efforts to replace its aging fleet with more spacious, modern six-car trains.

Production delays and the COVID-19 pandemic have delayed the project’s timeline.

According to the most recent schedule, the new 152-car fleet of Orange Line trains will be fully delivered by April 2023, 15 months later than was initially planned. Meanwhile, the 252 new Red Line cars are scheduled to be fully in service by September 2024, a year later than the original September 2023 completion date.

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