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Expanded Yawkey Station to open in March, T says

The MBTA plans to open the rebuilt Yawkey commuter rail station in Boston next month, clearing the way for the transit agency to boost service across the entire Framingham-Worcester line, officials announced Wednesday.

The station is set to open on March 10, when a new schedule for the commuter rail line will also be implemented, said Beverly Scott, general manager for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

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“I would like to thank everyone for their patience,” she said in a statement. “We’re very excited about launching this new era in the continuing process of improving the Worcester-Framingham commuter rail line.”

Completion of the $14.9 million Yawkey Station overhaul was delayed by about two months while the contractor worked to address accessibility issues, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

That delay forced the MBTA to hold back on increasing service across the Framingham-Worcester line. The Yawkey project includes constructing a second track to accommodate more trains, officials said.

The new schedule will bring the total number of weekday round trips on the Framingham-Worcester line to 24, up from 22 round trips currently.

The revised schedule also allows trains to stop at more stations while making those trips, the MBTA said.

The line offered only 10 weekday round trips before the state struck a deal in 2009 to buy a 21-mile stretch of track for $50 million from railroad company CSX Corp.

Since then, the MBTA has incrementally increased train trips and stops, while improving other aspects of passenger service on the line, which was once among the least reliable in the commuter rail network because CSX dictated much of the line’s operations based on freight train schedules.

The rebuilt Yawkey Station, located steps from Fenway Park, features a pair of 700-foot-long train platforms that are fully accessible to people with disabilities, four new elevators and stairways, track realignments, an open mezzanine, and a new main station lobby, MBTA officials said.

The project was paid for by the state, and included the use of federal stimulus funding, officials said.

More changes to the station are planned if and when the long-delayed Fenway Center project, a proposed mixed-use development, is built around the station.

Those future improvements would include building new entrances on Brookline Avenue and Beacon Street and extending Yawkey Way so MASCO shuttle buses, which serve the Longwood Medical Area, can pull up to the station, officials said.

Solar panels would also be installed atop a parking garage for the Fenway Center development to power Yawkey Station, which would make it the first “net-zero energy” rail station in Massachusetts, state officials said.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau @globe.com.
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