The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Fiscal and Management Control Board voted Oct. 1 to award a $217.7 million contract to upgrade the signal systems on the system’s Red and Orange Lines.
The contract went to Barletta Heavy Division, and officials say the full signal system replacement along both lines is set for completion in mid-2022.
After the project’s completion, the new signal systems on both lines are expected to substantially improve service reliability.
Combining this upgrade with the addition of new fleet vehicles, the MBTA said it expects the new signal systems to enable:
- Orange Line trains to run every 4.5 minutes during peak travel hours
- Red Line trains to run every 3 minutes between Alewife and JFK during peak hours
- Red Line trains to run every 6 minutes between Ashmont and JFK and Braintree and JFK
“Upgrading our core infrastructure is absolutely critical to improving reliability for our customers,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. “Replacing our signal systems with cutting edge technology will allow us to maximize the performance of our new fleet vehicles, increase capacity, and position us to respond to issues that may impact service faster and with more accurate information than we have today.”
The MBTA said it is investing nearly $2 billion in both lines as part of the Red Line/Orange Line Infrastructure Improvement Program, including the work to perform signal upgrades.
The program also entails procuring more than 400 new vehicles to replace the existing Orange and Red Line fleets and rebuilding modernized maintenance facilities.
The design-build project is intended to upgrade signal technology to the next generation Digital Audio Frequency Track Circuits, from existing analog technology.
The track circuits will be designed with the capacity to add speed commands to capitalize on the new fleet vehicles’ improved performance, MBTA said.
The project also includes the replacement of the existing central instrument houses with the latest generation of train control technology along the Red Line near Columbia Junction, between North Quincy and Andrew stations, officials said.
The project will upgrade a series of switches at Andrew Station to a modern, remote controlled crossover, as well.
Additional work along the Orange Line includes replacing all cabling and switch machines from Forest Hills to State Street.