One week after a train derailment triggered lengthy delays and a heated debate over the state of public transit, the MBTA is slowly increasing the frequency of Red Line service.
The agency on Tuesday said it is running about 10 trains an hour on the line, compared to six in the days immediately after the June 11 derailment, and will no longer run an extra commuter rail train along the Braintree Red Line corridor that it had added to ease congestion and wait times.
“Since last week, ridership on the extra Commuter Rail trains has dropped significantly as many of our customers have returned to the Red Line, where service has steadily improved in terms of trains running per hour and the length of passenger trip times,” Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority general manager Steve Poftak said in a statement.
Still, service levels remain below the train frequency that the T targets for the Red Line, its busiest subway line. Some commuters continued to take to social media to vent frustrations about long waits and packed trains; one posted that it took 20 minutes to go one stop from North Quincy to JFK/UMass.
The agency again warned riders Tuesday to added 15 to 20 minutes to their commute times. Meanwhile the Braintree line experienced additional delays on Tuesday when fire officials were called to the North Quincy station after a train reportedly had motor problems.
And while the T still does not know the cause of the derailment, Poftak said the agency is conducting inspections of all the cars in its Red Line fleet for safety and performance issues. After ruling out operator and track issues and possible vandalism, the agency is zeroing in on the car itself, which is 50 years old. Officials say Red Line trains are normally inspected about once a month.
The derailment occurred last Tuesday at the beginning of the morning rush hour outside the JFK/UMass station. The train traveled one-third of a mile with one of its cars off the tracks, and hit three sheds alongside the tracks that housed the critical signaling system that controls traffic on that portion of the Red Line. The incident required riders on the Braintree branch line to switch trains at the JFK station for much of last week.
The damage to the signal system has forced the T to run trains at lower speeds and use personnel along the tracks to help clear trains on to their next destination. The T said Tuesday that parts for repairing the signals are on their way, but the agency still did not say when it expected to have the system up and running.
The agency has a $113 million contract to have all of the signals on the Red Line upgraded to a new, digital system, but that work isn’t scheduled to be finished until 2022.