Under a white tent in City Hall Plaza Tuesday, the MBTA set up a mockup of the new Red Line car scheduled to hit the tracks for testing by March of next year. Before letting the public take its tour of the train car, Gov. Charlie Baker and Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack were invited for a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour of the car.
The governor took his time at the podium to tout the T's planned investments, citing $350 million dollars for signal upgrades, and another $470 million for track improvements and facility renovation on the Orange and Red lines.
"They represent the two most heavily traveled lines on the rapid transit system," Baker said. "This is a massive investment, and it's way overdue." Luis Ramirez, the general manager of the MBTA, joined the governor at the ribbon cutting, and said that the mock up is a great preview of what is to come.
"We are completely replacing the Red Line with 252 new vehicles," Ramirez said. "More than that, we're increasing the number of Red Line vehicles in the fleet as well."
Some of the current red line cars date back to the 1970's, according to the MBTA. The new cars will reportedly improve accessibility for disabled passengers with wider doors and smaller gaps between the car and the platform.
The China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. has been contracted by the state to build 266 new Red Line cars. It's the same company building 152 new Orange Line cars, and assembly is being done at a plant in Springfield. The first few Red Line train cars will be delivered next year.
Some protesters surrounding the event on City Hall Plaza, with unionized gas workers holding signs pleading Baker to help them as they enter the eighth week of a lockout after failed negotiations with National Grid. The Massachusetts Democratic Party also showed up requesting that the governor take the T rather than tour it and hold a town hall meeting as he begins his re-election campaign.