First of Refurbished Green Line Trolleys Heads Back Home

For two years, a company has been spit-shining some of the train cars. They will fix up 86 of them by 2016.

Image via Alstom

Image via Alstom

Two years ago, some of the MBTA’s Green Line trolleys were packed up on the beds of tractor-trailers and shipped out-of-state to undergo an extensive interior and exterior makeover. Now, the first of those vehicles is coming home to be tested before it eventually hits the tracks, offering riders an upgraded commuting experience.

On Tuesday, Alstom Transportation, the Hornell, New York-based company that won a $104 million contract with the MBTA in 2012 to conduct a “complete systems overhaul” of 86 of the transit agency’s Type 7 trolleys, announced that they completed the first of the fixes and sent the vehicle back to Massachusetts.

According to T spokesman Joe Pesaturo, once the “pilot car” arrives on Wednesday, it will be subjected to two months of performance testing to make sure the trolley meets the transportation company’s satisfaction. Then, it will go into passenger service sometime between late January or early February of 2015.

Pesaturo said besides the updates to the trains’ systems and “full modernization” of the light-rail vehicles, the cars are also being outfitted with new interior surfaces and new propulsion and climate control systems.

When asked if the upgrades would mean a better, more reliable mode of transit for passengers, Pesaturo replied, “absolutely.”

“The introduction of real-time tracking and completely rebuilt trolleys combine to represent the Green Line’s most significant customer service enhancements since 1897, when the tunnel from Park to Boylston Stations opened,” he said, emphasizing the latest changes happening to the trolleys.

The other 85 light-rail vehicles, most of which are still in service, will be sent to Alstom, refurbished, and return to Massachusetts by January of 2017 “at the latest,” according to officials from the MBTA. But Alstom said they are on track to get the job done by October of 2016.

The train cars were originally built in 1986, 1987, and 1997 by Kinki-Sharyo of Osaka, Japan, and assembled at the old Westinghouse Plant in Readville.

In May, the MassDOT Board of Directors, the state entity that oversees the T’s operations, voted in favor of awarding a $118 million contract to CAF USA, Inc., a Delaware-based company with corporate offices in Washington, D.C., to furnish and deliver 24 new “Type 9” Light Rail vehicles, adding to the upgrades to the Green Line. Those vehicles will begin hitting the tracks between 2017 and 2019.