Keolis Commuter Services, which operates the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail system, finished out the month of October with an unadjusted on-time weekday performance rate of 90.44%, the best performance for that month in nearly a decade.
A significant number of delays for the month were caused by trains that had to be operated at lower speeds for safety reasons because of slippery rail conditions. When adjusted for slippery rail and other conditions or incidents not under the control of Keolis, on-time performance was 94.44%.
“We’re pleased to have delivered the strongest OTP for October since 2006, but we also recognize that these results don’t mean much to passengers who did experience delays this month for whatever reason,” said Keolis Commuter Services GM Gerald C. Francis. “I want our passengers to know that every member of our team remains committed to providing them with a service that is safe, reliable, and on time, each and every day.”
Keolis officials said October and November are typically challenging months because of falling leaves which compact against the tracks creating “slippery rail” conditions.
When the rails are slippery, locomotive engineers operate the trains at lower speeds to ensure the safety of passengers and crews, much the way drivers slow down when road conditions are icy. To combat slippery rail, Keolis crews use high-power washer trains to clear the tracks and spread sand and a gritty silicone gel to keep the tracks safe
“While we cannot eliminate slippery rail entirely, we know these delays are very frustrating, and we do everything we can to keep the tracks clear when the leaves start falling,” Francis said. “But getting our passengers to their destination safely will always be our first priority.”
The October results were in keeping with the Service Improvement Plan approved by the MBTA this summer in which Keolis pledged that trains would be on-time (adjusted) an average of 92% for the remainder of 2015, with no single month falling under 90%.