Metro

Amtrak signal fixed, normal service resumes to South Station

Commuters should expect normal service at South Station after an Amtrak signal was fixed, the MBTA announced Friday morning.
David L. Ryan/globe staff
Commuters should expect normal service at South Station after an Amtrak signal was fixed, the MBTA announced Friday morning.

Finally some good news for commuters — the MBTA announced Friday morning that the Amtrak signal issue that caused widespread delays Thursday “has been resolved and all South Station trains will depart and arrive into South Station on the regular schedule.”

Officials had previously warned MBTA commuter rail riders to expect delays Friday and to be prepared to take alternate routes into the city.

The damaged signal on Thursday led to delays and confusion for thousands of commuters — and reawakened memories of last winter when T service was stymied by the recordbreaking snow and cold.

Advertisement

“We appreciate the patience of passengers who were inconvenienced yesterday because of an Amtrak equipment failure,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an e-mail.

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Leslie Aun, a spokeswoman for Keolis Commuter Services, which runs the commuter rail for the MBTA, said in an e-mail that people can expect a “normal commute today,” with “some scattered delays but nothing related to the system failure yesterday.”

Keolis, which operates the commuter rail for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, first publicly mentioned the signal problem, located between South Station and the Back Bay station, at about 4:56 a.m. Thursday on its Twitter feed.

David L. Ryan/globe staff
The schedule board indicated most trains were on time Friday morning at South Station.

The problems escalated through Thursday morning: Trains normally scheduled to deliver passengers to South Station had to stop at outlying stations, leaving riders to catch subway trains for the final leg of their trip. Thursday afternoon, passengers who normally take the commuter rail had to catch a ride on the subway or other means to meet their home-bound commuter trains at outlying stations, rather than South Station.

Only the Providence/Stoughton lines left from South Station, while the others were rerouted to Back Bay, Newmarket, Quincy Center, Braintree, and JFK/UMass.

Advertisement

The problems led Governor Charlie Baker to publicly air his frustrations on Boston Public Radio, a program on WGBH-FM.

“I’ve been ready to strangle somebody all day,” he quipped. “I’m just waiting for somebody who looks like they deserve to be strangled.”

MBTA and Keolis officials have been quick to note that the problems came from a signal that was maintained by Amtrak.

Amtrak said in a statement that crews had worked through the night to “make repairs to a switch issue.”

“The switch issue started early Thursday morning and required the manual operation of track switches, causing delays and cancellations to Amtrak and MBTA commuter rail trains. Amtrak Engineering forces worked to fix the issue and allow for full restoration of scheduled service on Friday morning,” Amtrak said.

Advertisement

“Amtrak regrets any inconvenience,” the statement said.

Thursday’s problems seemed to highlight an increasingly strained relationship between the MBTA and Amtrak, which operates out of several MBTA stations and uses T tracks. In January, the MBTA sued Amtrak amid a dispute over maintenance of rail lines.

The delays came during another bad week for the much-maligned MBTA: On Tuesday night, a fallen panel caused smoke near two Orange Line trains, leading passengers to break through windows on one train to escape onto the platform,

A look inside Amtrak’s “Tower 1,” according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
A look inside Amtrak’s “Tower 1,” according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

A look inside Amtrak’s “Tower 1,” according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
A look inside Amtrak’s “Tower 1,” according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

Travis Andersen, Kathy McCabe, and Steve Annear of the Globe staff contributed to this report.