BOSTON- State Representative Shawn Dooley (R- Norfolk) has announced that he has formally requested a state oversight hearing on the MBTA’s handling of their contract with China Railway and Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) for new Orange Line cars. Dooley sent the request on Thursday afternoon to the chairpersons of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation, Senator Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop) and Representative William Straus (D-Mattapoisett), in the wake of the MBTA’s and CRRC’s recent announcement that once again, orange line train delivery will be delayed. When CRRC and the MBTA initially awarded a contract to CRRC, delivery was supposed to be completed by late 2018. Dooley has already filed legislation (H.2691) that would prevent the MBTA and the Commonwealth from contracting any further with companies, such as CRRC, that are supported by countries with nonmarket economies citing cybersecurity concerns; unfair trade practices, and the safety; quality; and security of our critical infrastructure.
“There is simply too much at stake for the Commonwealth to allow the T to continue to kick its disastrous administration of the CRRC contract down the road. I hope the Committee will consider conducting an oversight hearing on this matter sooner rather than later, so the T understands there is accountability for its actions and that any further delays by CRRC are unacceptable” Dooley said in his letter.
Monday evening, the MBTA announced that delivery of orange line trains would be delayed until summer 2019. On January 14th, when the cars were promised to be ready by spring, the T’s Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville said “Essentially, I think that this is probably the last critical item we have to get resolved before we get these vehicles into service.”
In response, Dooley writes in his letter “Obviously, Mr. Gonneville was wrong. Either the T did not consider technology that manages signal system interactions critical when Mr. Gonneville made his statement, or the T simply has no idea what CRRC is really doing and no idea when the new Orange Line cars will be ready. Either reason is cause for great concern. If the T does not consider signal system technology critical enough to have ascertained its performance back in January when Mr. Gonneville made his very bold statement, the safety implications are alarming. It also calls into question the T’s assurances that the Chinese government isn’t tampering with rail system software for espionage or other hostile purposes. If, on the other hand, the T simply missed this critical system back in January, it is reasonable to ask just how much active oversight the T is really practicing on this procurement and is the T simply just taking CRRC’s word for it.”
Dooley is awaiting response from the Joint Committee on Transportation