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TriMet to retire 40-year-old MAX trains, replace with 30 upgraded trains by 2024


By Karli Olson

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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — After almost 40 years on the tracks, the original ‘Type 1′ MAX trains will be off the rails by the end of the year, replaced by 30 new ‘Type 6′ trains in Portland.

Around 1,000 people attended an event at TriMet’s Park Ave MAX Station in Milwaukie to get a look inside the new trains, complete with new digital signs showing the stops, improved cameras and door lights, and better temperature controls.

Type 1 MAX trains have been in service in the Portland area since 1986, and for some, the draw is all in the quirky, vintage feel.

“I quickly fell in love with the Type 1′s because, I don’t know, I like them because they’re garbage, they’re not great,” said Quinton, a train enthusiast who moved to Portland last year. “I mean look at the rust on this thing, they’re old, they’re worn out, they don’t have the regenerative braking. It’s good that they’re being replaced, but I am very sad that they’re being replaced.”

Even though the old trains will be recycled, with one given to the Electric Railway Museum in Brooks, Quinton said he’s still hoping to keep a piece of them close.

“I want the bell, I want the horn off of them, I like them a lot,” he chuckled. “I would do a lot for a bell!”

According to TriMet, they’ve been reliable machines, but it’s just time to go.

“All of the technology on board, none of it’s really digital, it’s all analog, it’s your analog train from the 1980′s,” said Tyler Graf, TriMet’s Public Information Office. “Some of these trains have 2 million miles on them. So they’ve been very productive, very reliable, it’s just time for us to send them away.”

The Type 6 trains will have room for 168 people, and operator cabs at both ends of the train cars.

Eboni Spruill used to ride the MAX trains often in high school, and said the upgrades since then are encouraging to see.

“I think it’s being more accommodating to people in the community,” she said. “Back when I was riding the MAX, safety wasn’t a big concern as it is right now, and so now I think TriMet is taking the shift to make sure the riders they serve are safe on the MAX as well.”

Anders Stenberg started photographing trains during the pandemic, and came to the event for a chance to see the brand new equipment while sporting an ‘I Love Trains’ t-shirt. He said people just don’t understand the importance of this transportation method.

“I’ve loved trains ever since I was a little boy,” Stenberg said. “Trains are the unappreciated backbone of the nation. Most people see trains as an annoyance, they just get stopped by them at railroad crossings because we’re an impatient society.”

The new trains will go through a testing period before the public can ride, but the memories of history will remain in the hearts of many riders.

“It’s going to be a loss for transit to have such weird old trains out of service, but I’m glad I got to live here while they’re in service,” Quinton said.

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