Who do you thwack when signals go black? Blame Amtrak

Riders from the south and west got to enjoy the scenic vistas of the South Station rail yards this morning when Amtrak's signals failed yet again, and trains were unable to pull into the station. America's Railroad fixed the problem shortly after 9:15 and trains began pulling in.

Last month:
T says South Station problems not their fault, riders go 'Oy, gevalt!'



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Co Worker

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Just got in.. wasn't too happy about that. Said he sat just south of the junction near South Station for a good long time. Said they had to switch to generators to get the track switches working again.

I wonder

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if anyone lost their job today? And I don't mean anyone in Amtrak or the MBTA.

Our infrastructure is a joke. Greatest country in the world my ass. Just read a report that came out stating U.S. workers get the least amount of vacation and time off of any 'advanced' nation, have the longest daily commutes from home to job, then back again. Add to this list very expensive and mediocre heathcare (most expensive in the 'advanced' world), stagnant wages (when compared against the real inflation rate over the past 30-40 years). But hey! We do have a bunch of nukes and huge military which we use to defend the interests of mega transnational corporations and prop up NATO and European defenses (I'm sure the rich Euros get a kick out if that).

Yes, I'm feeling bitter and angry today. And no, I'm not a Marxist or raging, lunatic lefty. Somethings got to give in this country.


So where did our cost more

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So where did our cost more than the entire Iraq War stimulus money go to?

Really? Where DID IT GO? I cannot believe that hundreds of BILLIONS gets spent and we have no major infrastructure to show for it!

Iraq? That's old news

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In case you missed it, we're still nation-building in Afghanistan. And losing personnel weekly. May as well try to piss up a rope. What was it that Kerry used to say, back when he was a Democrat? Went something like this: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Same church, different pew.

Hmm? It got spent on a lot of

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Hmm? It got spent on a lot of smaller projects. Which was the point.


Massachusetts received authority under ARRA to spend $437.9 million over two years on road and bridge projects. An additional $319 million will fund urban and regional transit projects.


Also, the stimulus package didn't cost more than the entire Iraq War. Which is a shame, because we'd have been better off if it did. Plus investment in our own country tends to pay off in the long term, whereas we get nothing but trouble back from Iraq.


In chatting with an engineer a while back,

I was informed that really, all of our problems are due to Amtrak. In other places I guess they don't give Amtrak trains precedence, but we do here, and delay our trains to get Amtrak in (I forget if that was because they own the track or control the signals or whatever)...

Meanwhile, my monthly pass has died 4x in the last week because the MBTA gates suck & keep demagnetizing it. Whether it's the commuter rail or the T itself, I am so tired of this stupid broken system...

Yeah the problem being that

I've done it four times recently. Last Thursday, then last Friday, then this Thursday (could've done it earlier but it was working sometimes), then today.

MassDOT owns the Corridor

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MassDOT owns the Corridor itself, while Amtrak dispatches and maintains it. Thus Amtrak trains take priority.

A bit of a tangent here...

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...but there's something quite wrong with the ticket stock that comes from the commuter rail ticket offices at North, South & Back Bay. I've occasionally bought my monthlies from North Station, and the print on demand plastic tickets rarely last through the month. The Charlie machines at North were down one morning (not taking credit cards) so I bought an August pass from the window for the first time in a long time. This one only made it to August 14th (and I ride less than one subway trip a day) and had to replace it at DTX.

Strangely, the paper ones from the Charlie machines have never failed me. I've been sticking with those.

I've given up using Charlie Cards

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Mine have repeatedly crapped out, and I'm very careful with them. Fare machines also frequently won't accept them or won't show there's a pass on them. I now only use the paper tickets from a vending machine. They have the added benefit of date and time stamp.

I've found the best tickets

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I've found the best tickets to be the preprinted plastic ones with the narrow magstripe, which you get if you order a commuter rail pass through your employer.

If the signal system dies for

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If the signal system dies for 3 hours, nobody's getting through, so the issue isn't which trains get priority.

Why did it take so long to switch to the generator? A train signal system is life-critical technology.

Once the signals start

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Once the signals start working and you can move the backlog, Amtrak gets priority.
I doubt it's like a highway and everyone just starts accelerating like nothing happened. There's probably alot of protocol to make sure people get on the right track and the previous train has enough lead space.