Delays continue for Red Line commuters

Commuters wait for a Red Line train at JFK/UMass station Thursday morning.
Commuters wait for a Red Line train at JFK/UMass station Thursday morning. John R. Ellement/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

For the third straight day, passengers traveling on the MBTA’s Red Line are facing a tough morning commute.

The problems began Tuesday morning when a Red Line train derailed and smashed into traffic signaling equipment near the JFK/UMass MBTA station. Since then, trains on the Red Line have had to operate at reduced speeds and passengers on the Braintree branch have been forced to get off at JFK/UMass and board different trains to get into the city.

As a result, large crowds have been forming on the platforms at JFK/UMass during the morning rush hour as commuters wait for inbound trains to arrive. The electronic countdown clocks that usually show train arrival times also have not been working.


Laura Ingle, 66, of Braintree, was one of the many commuters who had to switch trains at JFK/UMass on Thursday morning. She said her family doesn’t want her riding the train because of the derailments that have happened in recent months.

“I don’t feel safe riding the train anymore,” she said. “My family’s begging me to retire just to get off the train.”

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority General Manager Steve Poftak said Red Line riders should expect delays to continue through at least Friday, while investigators figure out how to fix the equipment that was damaged by the car that derailed on Tuesday.

In light of the delays, MBTA officials said Red Line riders can use the commuter rail to get to South Station. All they have to do is show a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket to board a commuter rail train.

MBTA officials also set up a website to provide information and updates on the situation.

“Red Line trains will continue to travel slowly through some stations, due to the location of the derailment,” the website states.


On the Ashmont branch, “Red Line service has resumed, but is operating at reduced service levels,” the website states. “Please plan extra time for your commute.”

MBTA officials said the damage caused by the derailment has impacted how they track the trains, the GPS system and related apps, and the countdown clocks on the Red Line.

The derailed train car damaged some sheds that house hardware for the signal system that gives trains permission to pass through stations and continue down the track. Until repairs are made, employees at the MBTA’s operations control center will be manually monitoring the trains, the website states.

“While we work to repair and rebuild our signal bungalows, we will continue to provide you with up-to-date travel planning information as it’s available — both here on our website and on our Twitter account,” the website states. “We know that this is inconvenient, and we appreciate your patience while our crews work to repair the Red Line tracks and signals damaged by this event.”

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.