The idea of turning around commuter rail taken literally on the Fitchburg Line this morning

At 7:38 a.m., Finn tweeted from aboard an inbound Fitchburg Line train:

we're supposed to be arriving in Boston now. Instead we're in Acton going in the *reverse direction*.

this is an epic fuckup -- didn't we just spend $300m upgrading these tracks? How can this happen?

An hour later, state Sen. Jamie Eldridge reported:

Just heard from constituent via FB S. #Acton train on #Fitchburg line moved BACKWARDS 45 minutes, what gives?

Keolis says:

Fitchburg Update: Due to a track issue Train 404 (6:20 am inbound) is making a reverse move in order to change track near S. Acton

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Track problems

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If you're on the wrong track, isn't that dangerous?

Be intresting to know what really happened. With trains utilizing both tracks, and the work that was being done putting them down to one track at points, this might have been a tragedy caught and avoided.

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Both tracks are signaled

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Both tracks are signaled bidirectionally. There is no more inherent danger to being on one track versus the other.

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Which is completely

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Which is completely irrelevant here because the track the train was on this morning was NOT out of service.

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Apparently there was a broken

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Apparently there was a broken rail, which is a huge track problem, so I'm assuming this was the best way to get the train around it: move it back to the crossover before continuing on in the correct direction. Hindsight I know.

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Indeed, that is one of the

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Indeed, that is one of the inherent drawbacks of rail transit - you can't just drive around an obstacle!

And depending on the specific circumstances, it can sometimes be quite an ordeal to reverse a train! If you send the engineer to the other end, you have to spend ~10 minutes doing brake tests, etc. before you can move the train, then do that again once you've switched to the other track. Or you can keep the engineer at the original end and have the conductor at the leading end, but then you're limited in how fast you can go. And if there was another train behind, it had to move back first. And the train might need to obtain permission from the dispatcher to reverse, depending on signals, which would again take time and potentially limit speed. All in all, I'm not surprised at all that it took that long.

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