New video shows MBTA Orange Line battery failure on new subway car

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Surveillance video obtained by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority captured the battery failure experienced on one of the new Orange Line subway cars last month.The surveillance video shows a bright flash and sparks coming from the train parked inside the Wellington Yard just before 4 a.m. on Monday, June 20. The trains, which are assembled in Springfield, Massachusetts, by Chinese-owned manufacturer CRRC, were taken out of service for two weeks after transit inspectors discovered the battery failure. The MBTA said the battery provides low-voltage DC power, controlling the electrical equipment on the vehicle and powering lighting, signage, and communications equipment.The MBTA said it chose to remove all new Orange Line and Red Line cars from service while its engineers and technicians worked with CRRC to identify the cause of the failure.The transit agency said the cause of the problem was identified as an out-of-range battery temperature reading, which caused the battery to overcharge for an extended duration and fail. “To safely return the cars to service, a design change was made to increase airflow in the battery compartment and a modification to the temperature sensing circuitry was developed, implemented, and successfully tested over the weekend,” the MBTA said in a news release. “The video clearly shows to me the explosion of a battery,” Keith Millhouse, a rail safety expert told WCVB’s John Atwater. Millhouse said he doesn’t think officials were being transparent when they described the incident as a battery failure. “Technically, in an explosion, the battery fails; it’s a very misleading characterization, in my opinion,” Millhouse said.”From a credibility standpoint, it’s important that the T accurately communicate things to their ridership,” he said.In May, a braking issue caused one of the new Orange Line trains to become disabled.That incident prompted the transit agency to remove all of the CRRC vehicles from service pending additional inspections. MBTA vehicle maintenance personnel started a fleetwide process to verify that each bolt (24 per car, 144 per train) was properly installed, officials said.As each bolt on a six-car train passed inspection, the train was returned to passenger service.Video: Sky 5 shows dozens of parked MBTA train cars in Wellington yard The new trains have been pulled from service several times before.Just over a year ago, a derailment at Wellington Station caused all of the new vehicles on the Orange Line to be pulled off the tracks for about five months. In 2019, they were temporarily pulled out of service for the replacement of door components and again after engineers observed an unexpected noise coming from the underside of the vehicles. Other cars operating on the Orange Line were originally put into service from 1979 to 1981.

Surveillance video obtained by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority captured the battery failure experienced on one of the new Orange Line subway cars last month.

The surveillance video shows a bright flash and sparks coming from the train parked inside the Wellington Yard just before 4 a.m. on Monday, June 20.

The trains, which are assembled in Springfield, Massachusetts, by Chinese-owned manufacturer CRRC, were taken out of service for two weeks after transit inspectors discovered the battery failure.

The MBTA said the battery provides low-voltage DC power, controlling the electrical equipment on the vehicle and powering lighting, signage, and communications equipment.

The MBTA said it chose to remove all new Orange Line and Red Line cars from service while its engineers and technicians worked with CRRC to identify the cause of the failure.

The transit agency said the cause of the problem was identified as an out-of-range battery temperature reading, which caused the battery to overcharge for an extended duration and fail.

“To safely return the cars to service, a design change was made to increase airflow in the battery compartment and a modification to the temperature sensing circuitry was developed, implemented, and successfully tested over the weekend,” the MBTA said in a news release.

“The video clearly shows to me the explosion of a battery,” Keith Millhouse, a rail safety expert told WCVB’s John Atwater.

Millhouse said he doesn’t think officials were being transparent when they described the incident as a battery failure.

“Technically, in an explosion, the battery fails; it’s a very misleading characterization, in my opinion,” Millhouse said.

“From a credibility standpoint, it’s important that the T accurately communicate things to their ridership,” he said.

In May, a braking issue caused one of the new Orange Line trains to become disabled.

That incident prompted the transit agency to remove all of the CRRC vehicles from service pending additional inspections.

MBTA vehicle maintenance personnel started a fleetwide process to verify that each bolt (24 per car, 144 per train) was properly installed, officials said.

As each bolt on a six-car train passed inspection, the train was returned to passenger service.

Video: Sky 5 shows dozens of parked MBTA train cars in Wellington yard

The new trains have been pulled from service several times before.

Just over a year ago, a derailment at Wellington Station caused all of the new vehicles on the Orange Line to be pulled off the tracks for about five months.

In 2019, they were temporarily pulled out of service for the replacement of door components and again after engineers observed an unexpected noise coming from the underside of the vehicles.

Other cars operating on the Orange Line were originally put into service from 1979 to 1981.

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