US: MBTA Launches Track Improvement Program

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has launched a Track Improvement Program that will eliminate all speed restrictions on its network by the end of 2024.

The project aims to fix tracks and bring the infrastructure closer to a state of good repair to ensure it meets all applicable safety and performance standards. This is part of the MBTA’s broader efforts to “Rebuild, Restore, and Reimagine” the network.

MBTA Commuter Rail train passing the Chelsea silver line station
MBTA Commuter Rail train passing the Chelsea silver line station

The scope of work will include spot repairs, tie replacements, rail replacements and ballast replacements.

MBTA will expand its engineering teams and work with specialised rail contractors to efficiently carry out the work on nights, weekends and shutdown periods, which will minimise service, time and cost impacts.

MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng said:

“By restoring our tracks, we are addressing the root causes of the speed restrictions that have accumulated over decades. Our efforts to rebuild track infrastructure across the Red, Orange, Blue, and Green Lines will improve train speeds substantially, reduce delays and disruptions, enhance safety, and deliver timely, reliable, and consistent service for riders. Our team is deeply committed to seeing this through and we thank the public for their patience as we move the T forward.”

MBTA currently has 191 speed restrictions across its network. To eliminate these and improve safety and reliability, over 27,900 railroad ties and 124,880 feet of track will be revitalised.

In addition, over 208,000 feet of tamping will help smooth riding surfaces and allow for more comfortable, efficient train operations. This will involve packing the track ballast under railway tracks to make the tracks and roadbed more durable and level.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation Acting Secretary and CEO Monica Tibbits-Nutt said:

“From day one, Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll have been clear that a safe, reliable public transportation system is essential for a strong economy and strong communities. With this plan, General Manager Eng and the MBTA team are showing our clear commitment to tackling these challenges head on. This is a bold and ambitious plan, but it is one that is necessary to ensure the long-term safety and reliability of the MBTA system. We are committed to working with the MBTA to make this a success.”

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