Red Line passengers received some encouraging news Tuesday when the MBTA announced it had eliminated nine slow zones between JFK/UMass and Park Street stations.
Shuttle bus service had replaced trains on that stretch during the evenings from Nov. 14 to Nov. 16 and “all day” Saturday and Sunday to allow for repairs to remove the slow zones, the MBTA said in a statement.
“The MBTA is proud to have completed this critical work, removing nine speed restrictions on the Red Line – which is three more than we set out to remove!” said the agency’s general manager and CEO, Phillip Eng.
“I know that we have many challenges ahead, but this reconfirms a new way of doing business at the MBTA to safely improve our tracks and infrastructure and providing a faster, more reliable ride for the public,” he said.
More than 2,000 feet of rail and 115 ties were replaced during the repairs to eliminate the slow zones.
On Nov. 9, officials announced a sweeping plan to shut down portions of the four subway lines in stages over the next 14 months for repairs to eliminate speed restrictions. By shutting down portions of the Red, Orange, Green, and Blue Lines for several days each through 2024, the agency is aiming to bring trains to full speed again throughout the entire system, Eng said earlier this month.
The plan built on the success of a 16-day shutdown of the Red Line between JFK/UMass and Ashmont stations and the entire Mattapan trolley line in October, which eliminated all slow zones — more than two dozen in total — and made trips much faster.
The Red Line is expected to see more service disruptions next year, with 67 days of work beginning on Feb. 5, when nine days of repairs are planned between Alewife and Harvard stations, according to a tentative schedule.
The MBTA has set aside 58 days for work on the Green Line, tentatively slated to begin Jan. 3, with 10 days of suspended service between North Station and Kenmore, extending on the E branch to Heath Street and on the B branch to Babcock Street.
The longest single stretch of suspended service is scheduled to unfold over 18 days on the Green Line, beginning Feb. 20. That’s when the MBTA plans to repair tracks between Copley and Saint Mary’s Street on the C branch.
There are 39 days of work tentatively scheduled for the Orange Line, beginning March 18, with a three-day service suspension between Haymarket and Jackson Square stations. Four more service closures are expected each month between May and October.
On the Blue Line, the MBTA plans to suspend service for three days in April between Airport and Wonderland stations. Work is also expected between Bowdoin and Airport stations, but officials haven’t specified any service suspensions and indicated on its tentative schedule that the work would be completed overnight.
“I thank our riders for their patience as we completed this critical work and the MBTA team for their tireless efforts,” Eng said Tuesday. “As we continue to move towards restoring service levels across the system, lessons learned will continue to be incorporated to streamline efforts and better serve the public.”
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.