Service worsens on MBTA’s line to Worcester and Framingham
The numbers back up your complaints, Worcester/Framingham train riders: Your service has been particularly bad lately.
Last Monday, the new general manager of Keolis Commuter Services, David Scorey, told the fiscal and management control board that only about 61 percent of trains on that line had run on time over the past 30 days.
The line is one of the busiest of all the commuter rail lines, threading through towns including Wellesley and Framingham. And other lines barely come close to its tardiness rate. The next worst is the Fitchburg line, which ran about 68 percent of trains on time during the same time period.
Sadly, Worcester/Framingham line riders are used to late trains.
According to the MBTA’s own data site, Keolis Commuter Services was able to run about 73 percent of Worcester/Framingham line trains on time last November.
Scorey has pointed out that a number of speed limits have contributed to the tardiness of trains on the line, including construction of a station near New Balance headquarters in Brighton, and a red signal near the Worcester end that slows down turnaround for some trains.
The company is also replacing ties on the track to improve conditions, which adds even more speed restrictions. But Keolis has also been rocked by a shortage in coaches, particularly because the company has gotten behind on federally required inspections.
It has gotten bad enough for the Worcester/Framingham line that the company has formed an action committee to examine the problem, train by train. It will also be implementing some short-term solutions, including adding more conductors to certain packed trains to reduce the time stopped at stations, and changing some routes.
The line has had other problems besides speed restrictions. Earlier this month, the company allowed a damaged train to carry passengers when employees failed to report a late-night accident — an issue the Federal Railroad Administration is investigating.
With winter approaching, Scorey has said that Keolis workers are busily preparing for any problems with snow. But he also says the end of fall brings its own respite, as the company will no longer have to deal with the “slippery rail” season — when wet leaves fall on the tracks, creating slick conditions that make it harder to control the train’s speed and braking.
“A number of things will improve,” said Scorey. “We’re doing a lot of good work in the mechanical department to raise the number of locomotives that are available, and number of cars that are available.”