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MBTA says rail and bus lines are likely to be delayed this week

The MBTA said rail and bus lines may be delayed this week because of the cold weather. Globe Staff/file/Boston Globe

The MBTA is advising commuters to add 20 minutes of travel time in the morning, in anticipation of frigid temperatures affecting bus and rail services this week, officials said.

The Hingham commuter ferry to Boston has been suspended indefinitely due to ice damage on a dock and extreme tides, the agency announced Monday night.

“For us, our first priority is to run a safe system for all the riders and the employees that are operating them,” MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez said Monday evening in a conference call. The agency will be doing everything it can to maintain normal service, Ramirez said, but noted that “given the last few days and the experiences we’re seeing across the region, we think it’s prudent to prepare” for possible delays.

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Shuttle buses will take passengers from the Hingham ferry terminal to the commuter rail station in West Hingham, which will accept their boat passes, said Joe Pesaturo, an MBTA spokesman.

The agency will take several steps to try to maintain train service, Ramirez said. Trains will be stored in tunnels and maintenance facilities during morning hours to avoid hazards from freezing, and those that can’t fit will run on rail yards, he said.

Operators will open and close train doors and test brakes, and the heaters for track switches will be tested throughout the day. Extra maintenance staff will stand by at “strategic locations” to address any issues that arise.

Additional crews will also be on call at the end of lines, where trains are swapped out, deputy general manager Jeff Gonneville said.

Cold weather can affect a train’s air system, which controls braking, the doors, and more, and can create difficulties for the rails as well. Moisture within those systems can freeze, which causes the vehicles to malfunction, officials said last week.

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The weather contributed to delays on both the commuter rail and subway lines last week. A piece of Orange Line track on the Mystic River bridge broke early Friday morning, causing significant delays.

The extreme cold that gripped the region over the holiday weekend is expected to continue this week, according to the National Weather Service.

The high on Monday was 13 degrees, and it is expected to be 16 on Tuesday. The temperature could warm to 30 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday, but there is also a chance for snow, forecasters said.


Dylan McGuinness can be reached at dylan.mcguinness@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DylMcGuinness.