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Signal problems at Forest Hills could take months to fix

Lightning strike damaged an Amtrak signal system at Forest Hills station on Saturday.

By Aneri Pattani Globe Correspondent 

Damaged Amtrak signal systems at the Forest Hills Station, which have caused commuter rail delays this week, could take months to repair completely, Amtrak officials said. But officials for the MBTA’s commuter rail operator said Wednesday that the delays could be resolved much sooner.

“We anticipate the delays passengers have been experiencing will be resolved in the next day or two as signals are restored,” said Keolis Commuter Services spokeswoman Leslie Aun. “We will be talking to Amtrak to see if the restoration schedule can be expedited, as we know this is causing our passengers a great deal of inconvenience.”

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Restoration work is expected through the summer and into the fall, Amtrak spokeswoman Christina Leeds said.

“Lots of specialized work and unique material is needed to complete the project,” Leeds said. “It’s not just something you can go to a store and buy, so it takes longer.”

Leeds referred questions about when MBTA commuter rail delays will end to Keolis, which operates commuter rail under contract with the public transit agency.

The news came as commuter rail delays continued Wednesday, with trains on the Needham and Providence/Stoughton lines running as much as 30 minutes late due to signal issues, according to the MBTA service alerts website.

While inbound Providence/Stoughton line trains continued to bypass Ruggles Station Wednesday, Keolis said service would be partially restored to the station Thursday.

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“Service was temporarily suspended to and from Ruggles after a lightning strike on April 4 destroyed key switch and signal equipment nearby,” Keolis spokesman Mac Daniel said. “Seven of the 10 trains that currently service Ruggles will be restored. More trains could be added at a later date.”

In a statement, Amtrak said it will “coordinate with the MBTA to provide regular updates as the project progresses.”


Aneri Pattani can be reached at aneri.pattani@globe.com.