More new T cars? Not so fast. New Red, Orange Line trains face more delays.

New Orange Line cars are now delayed to next summer, while Red Line cars may not be ready until the summer of 2025.

Erin Clark/Globe Staff
Old and new Orange Line cars at Wellington Station.

The MBTA may be left waiting even longer for an already-delayed order of new Orange and Red Line subway cars as its Chinese manufacturer navigates supply chain, staffing, and quality assurance challenges, T officials said Thursday.

Orange Line cars due last January are now on track for next summer, while Red Line cars due in September 2023 may not be ready until the summer of 2025, officials told the MBTA Board of Directors.

Under an approximately $1 billion contract with the MBTA, manufacturer CRRC is set to deliver 152 new Orange Line cars and 252 new Red Line cars.

What’s the holdup?

The new delay comes almost two years after CRRC pushed its timeline back by at least a year. At the time, MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville said that production output from CRRC’s Springfield facility was at the heart of the issue, something he echoed in his remarks Thursday.

MBTA delays

“Right now, the critical path for production — and really production delivery — still is within the Springfield facility,” where the cars go through final assembly, he said. 


Gonneville said the COVID-19 pandemic impacted production in Springfield and China, and that the manufacturer is now dealing with supply chain, staffing, and quality assurance challenges. 

“We are finding that we are identifying issues through inspection, and those issues then disrupt the efficiency of the production flow, because CRRC has to go back, fix or correct those quality issues, which then disrupts the flow of production in the Springfield facility itself,” Gonneville said.

Speeding things up

He said the MBTA has taken steps to help speed up production, including holding quarterly meetings with CRRC’s global chairman and embedding MBTA representatives and staff in Springfield.

The T’s contract with CRRC also fines the manufacturer $500 per day for each delayed car, Gonneville said. 

So far, 78 new Orange Line cars have been delivered to the MBTA’s Wellington car house, while 12 new Red Line cars have gone to the T’s Cabot car house, Gonneville said. 

Another 40 Orange Line car shells are in the production line in Springfield, with 28 more in storage in Springfield and six in transit from China, he said. The Springfield facility also has six Red Line car shells on the production line and 14 more in storage. An additional 48 Red Line shells are being produced in China. 


“I think it’s important to make sure that the schedule that’s presented is what they are telling us,” Secretary of Transportation Jamey Tesler told the MBTA board. “There’s a lot to be determined if they can achieve that, given past performance. … I think that we need to continue to use everything available to us … to ensure that we can expedite their delivery of these cars.”

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak likewise emphasized the T’s desire to see production move forward in a timely manner.

“We all may have divergent opinions on certain topics, but I think we all agree: We need these cars,” he said. “We absolutely need to get these cars here.”


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