The MBTA says that fully restoring the signaling equipment destroyed in the June 11 derailment at JFK/UMass will likely take until at least Labor Day, so that means riders will continue to need to allow extra time for their commutes.
But it could have been worse, the T says: "Because of the age of the system and the extent of the damage, initial restoration of the signal system was projected to take approximately one year."
Meanwhile, the T says it still does not know exactly why the derailment happened, although it has ruled out foul play, operator error and track problems:
After disassembling the car that derailed, MBTA personnel are in the process of determining potential causes of its failure through rigorous evaluations of the car’s components. Out of an abundance of caution, the MBTA conducted a rigorous inspection of all related components of all vehicles of the same type involved in the derailment. As of today, Friday, June 21, all vehicles of the same type involved in the derailment have been inspected.
The T says that until the signal systems are fully repaired, it has to have 50 workers manually switching trains through JFK/UMass, where the Braintree and Ashmont tracks diverge and come together.
This equipment controls the intricate system of track, signals, and switches where the Ashmont and Braintree branches diverge on the Red Line. Without the signal system, each Red Line train must be given permission to proceed from one station to the next with personnel along the tracks physically directing trains’ routing. While this limits train speeds as well as the total number of trains in service, this manual process is necessary to allow trains to move safely along tracks.
In addition to controlling the speed and frequency of Red Line trains traveling in passenger service, the signal system also plays a vital role in dispatching trains during the start of service each day.
As signal assets incrementally come back on line, it will lessen the need for manual operations, which in turn, will improve train speeds, allow the MBTA to increase the number of trains in service, and ultimately drive passenger wait times down toward levels that customers expect.