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Normal Red Line service expected to resume in October, MBTA says

Passengers boarded the MBTA Red Line at Ashmont Station during morning rush hour in Boston on July 25.Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe

Repairs to the MBTA Red Line are expected to continue into October, the agency said in a new timeline of the extensive work on the signal and switching systems that were damaged by the June 11 derailment.

“We are targeting October for having all of the signals operating automatically,” Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority spokesman Joe Pesaturo told the Globe late Friday.

In the days after the derailment, T officials had initially told riders to expect delays through at least Labor Day, but also warned that the repair work could last beyond early September.

“Oh my gosh . . . I thought it was sooner than that,” said Jaime Ricci, 36, when told that the T was targeting October for a return to normal service. “That’s going to be tough, trying to get to school and work.”


The derailment severely damaged equipment sheds near the JFK/UMass station in Dorchester that housed electronics for the signals and switches along that section of the subway, forcing the T to run trains at reduced speeds while workers manage train traffic manually.

The incident has caused frequent delays and trips riders have described as nightmarish, sometimes lasting more than an hour for those traveling between Braintree and downtown Boston.

The T has since repaired many signals and switches along the corridor, allowing the agency to add more trains during rush hour and reduce the overall time of some trips.

“Workers continue to make good progress with repairs and the restoration of automated signals,” Pesaturo said. “The T is making incremental improvements in reducing Red Line trip times and increasing the frequency of service.”

The agency is also targeting Aug. 15 for the restoration of signals between the Broadway and JFK stations, which should result in an additional five-minute improvement to Red Line trips, general manager Steve Poftak said at a T board meeting in late July. A majority of the damaged signals and switches have been restored, he said.


Pesaturo confirmed Saturday that MBTA workers are on track to meet that goal, and are also working to restore signals between JFK and two southern stations, North Quincy and Fields Corner. He said riders will continue to see trip times decrease between now and October as the T puts more trains into service.

A Globe analysis of MBTA data found that travel times along the Ashmont and Braintree branches continue to fluctuate, with some improvements. Travel times on the Alewife branch of the Red Line have been largely unaffected by the derailment, data showed.

Frequent Red Line riders on the southern branches said they’ve seen very little change in the length of their daily commutes since June, despite progress on repairs.

“I haven’t noticed much of a difference,” said Sarai Perez Camacho, a 19-year-old Harvard University student waiting at JFK station Saturday afternoon. For her, the frequent delays are putting a strain on her summer job as a camp counselor.

“When I can’t rely on public transportation, it makes me fail other people and not live up to my responsibilities,” Perez Camacho said.

If the delays continue into the fall, she expects that to affect volunteers for a mentorship program for children that she helps run in Dorchester.

Many commuters, seemingly resigned by this point to inconsistent service and stops along the ride that can last up to 15 or 20 minutes, were not surprised by the updated repair timeline.


“I feel like it’s now become the new normal,” said Annie Zhang, 26.

On the day of the derailment, Zhang had to walk most of the way from JFK to work near Downtown Crossing. Since then, though, she’s noticed some improvements.

“I think the frequency of the trains have gotten better,” she said.

J.P. Catenza, 37, hasn’t seen any difference in his travel times this summer. The hotel concierge has had decades to get used to the Red Line and its frequent problems.

“I grew up on this — it’s just the same old,” he said.

Kellen Browning can be reached at, or on Twitter at @kellen_browning.