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Commuter rail now at 80%, Keolis chief says

KKeolis’s goal for full restoration of the commuter rail remains March 30.John Blanding/Globe Staff

Keolis Commuter Services on Monday was operating at 80 percent of its capacity on the MBTA’s commuter rail lines, but the general manager said the company’s goal for full restoration remains March 30.

Gerald Francis spent Monday morning meeting with commuters at North Station where, he said, he was quizzed about the status of individual lines and urged to improve communication between Keolis and passengers waiting on train platforms across the system.

He said commuters welcomed restoration of 15 runs on Monday.

“They were very pleased that that had happened,’’ Francis said in a telephone interview. “And if they were pleased, then I am pleased.’’


Francis said in train terminology, Keolis needs a total of 63 “sets” of cars and locomotives to operate at full capacity; on Monday, the company had 49 sets available. While short of the total needed, Francis said the company now has enough equipment to run extra trains to meet increased demand as they did on five lines Monday morning.

“They’ve been very patient with us,’’ Francis said of commuters. He said Keolis, a French-based company, has 2,000 employees in Massachusetts. “Our employees are working extremely hard to make sure we are bringing back these services as soon as we can.’’

Francis stressed, however, that the push for a full resumption will not compromise safety.

Francis also said commuters requested that Keolis do a better job of communicating the status of trains, a request that Francis said he planned to respond to. He said commuters he spoke with understood that sometimes trains break down, but they also said that information should be more readily shared with them.

Francis was named the general manager of the Keolis Commuter Services in Feburary, replacing Thomas M. Mulligan, who was in charge when the second snowiest winter in Boston’s history crippled commuter rail and MBTA service.


Francis said Monday that the company’s on-time performance has improved and that on Sunday trains were on time 91 percent of the time. He said he did not have on-time data for the Monday morning commute.

“That tells me we are trending in the right direction,” he said.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.