Government Issues

Keolis, MBTA to replace up to 30K rail ties on line

Posted on March 28, 2016

Track work is set to start on the Massachussetts Bay Transportation Authority's (MBTA) Framingham-Worcester Line this month, with a goal of replacing 25,000 to 30,000 railroad ties while work to end the line’s heat-related speed restrictions wraps up.

Keolis Commuter Services, which operates and maintains MBTA Commuter Rail, will be performing and overseeing much of this work, which is expected to have minimal impact on passengers. Most of the work will be performed mid-day to avoid peak commutes. Some speed restrictions will take place around the construction.

“Commuter rail’s performance on the Framingham-Worcester Line has improved dramatically thanks to the work we and the MBTA have already completed,” said Keolis GM Gerald C. Francis. “This next round of track work will help move trains more efficiently and finally end the speed restrictions riders have dealt with for many years.”

The track on the Framingham-Worcester Line was built and maintained by previous railroads using different design and maintenance standards than the MBTA. When the MBTA took control of the rail line in 2012, there were insufficient records available about the original installation of the rail, which helps engineers verify that the rail will respond to heat variations between winter and summer season.

To compensate for these unknowns, over the past two years the MBTA has either replaced rail or de-stressed sections of rail to ensure the safety of the Worcester Line. That work is ongoing this spring between Worcester and Framingham, and between Newtonville and Wellesley Farms. When complete, the commuter line will be free of speed restrictions.

At the same time, crews will start replacing 25,000 to 30,000 railroad ties between Newtonville and Southborough. Tie replacement will continue into the fall. In addition, the construction of the new Boston Landing Station will be taking place near the New Balance headquarters in Allston.

None of these projects are expected to impact peak service on the line, though off-peak service could be slowed by speed restrictions near construction zones.

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