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MBTA warns subway riders to expect extra delays even before the snow starts

Trying to get snails to move

In 1875, Richard Doyle anticipated the T in "Triumphal March of the Elf-King."

The T sounded the alarm tonight: Nearly a third of the tracks on the Red, Orange and Blue Lines remain subject to snailish speed restrictions, which are in place along all the tracks on the Green and Mattapan lines.

This is, of course, on top of the overall delays still in place because of earlier slow zones and because the T can't run as many trains as it used without working its dispatchers half to death, which federal transit officials have alerted the T is officially Bad.

The T suggests you check its trip planner to see if their might be parallel bus routes that would get you from A to B faster.

On Friday, one day after he imposed "global" slowdowns on all subway lines, when the T and the state DPU realized there were potential track problems on part of the Red Line and no real proof other track problems had been fixed, interim MBTA General Manager Jeff Gonnville said he had mostly lifted them on the Red, Orange and Blue Lines after inspections by T track specialists.

Mostly, turned out to mean that one third of the tracks were still subject to a new 25 m.p.h. speed limit on straightaways and 10 m.p.h. in curves and certain other locations.

The T said tonight:

MBTA crews remain in the field verifying that speeds are appropriate for sections of track identified by recent geometry car testing that may require mitigation, meaning the results of the testing matches field inspections by MBTA track engineers and independently verified by third party consulting engineers. Once speeds are verified, the T will proceed with validating that track defects identified in the geometry testing were repaired during previous work or report where repairs remain pending.

There are 19 block speed restrictions on the Orange Line, 39 on the Red Line, and six on the Blue Line. These are in addition to speed restrictions that had previously been in place on these lines prior to the March 9 system-wide slow order. A block speed restriction is a length of track that may include multiple defects that need to be investigated or mitigated. As each defect is validated and corrected as needed, the length of the block speed restriction will be reduced until the block is fully removed.

The T adds:

A track geometry car is used to test several parameters of track geometry including measuring position, curvature, alignment of track, smoothness, and the cross level of the two rails. The car uses a variety of sensors, measuring systems, and data management systems to create a profile of the track being inspected. The MBTA instituted global speed restrictions last week because the Authority was not satisfied with the quality of the documentation that supports the mitigation that followed recent geometry car testing. The MBTA typically performs geometry testing twice each year. The last series of geometry testing took place in the fall of 2022 and February 2023. The MBTA is performing a full and complete review of the circumstances that led to this situation.

Image from the New York Public Library's digital collections.



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The T says riders at certain Orange and Red Line stops (like Forest Hills) can ride commuter rail for free by showing their Charlie cards.


Said the conductor of an inbound commuter train on Friday with a straight face.

Time to make the "if the commuter rail and the subway share a station" fares equal.


Why can't the whole Commuter Rail be in zone 1A? And why can't every stop be an express stop?

Yet another of those Big Dig mitigation projects that the MBTA was forced to do by the Weld administration.

Is there anywhere to see the specific speed restriction areas for each line? Although I'm sort of afraid to know.

You can see them on this Transit Matters page. They haven't updated with the new slow zones, though (although if they persist, I suspect they will eventually get them).

Thank you Adam! This is new to me, great resource.