MBTA GM calls slowdowns along Green Line Extension ‘unacceptable'

In some places, trains are limited to 3 mph, slower than many people walk

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The MBTA's board of directors met Thursday as issues with the transportation agency continue to pile up.

The latest problem is that trains on the new Green Line Extension are operating extremely slowly. The sudden emergence of speed restrictions on some of the newest tracks in the T's system -- in some places, Green Line trains are limited to 3 mph, slower than many people walk -- is the latest dramatic example of unreliable service plaguing riders amid a sustained period of upheaval for the agency.



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MBTA General Manager Philip Eng wasted no time addressing the issue in front of the board, saying he knows firsthand about the issues, as he rides the Green Line Extension every day.

"I fully understand their frustration," he said. "These types of occurrences are unacceptable."

Eng told MBTA overseers the rails on parts of the Green Line Extension now appear slightly too narrow for trains to run safely at typical maximum speeds. Those conditions only appeared on a recent inspection, not prior scans, he said, adding that crews are still trying to determine how long the issue has been present.

He said although it's uncommon for tracks to narrow over time, "that doesn't mean it couldn't happen."

"You would typically expect the gauge to widen, and that can be, over time, wear on the rail, wear on the ties and just the use of the track," Eng said at the MBTA board of directors meeting. "What I understand is the tolerances that resulted in these recent speed restrictions is very minor. We need to investigate what took place between the previous [inspections] that did not indicate any narrow gauge to the recent ones that resulted in these speed restrictions."

"It is not typical, but I would not say it's impossible," he added.

Eng said crews are working 14-hour days to fix the issue. He said crews are not only working long days, but overnights and weekends too. But he didn't say when everything will be taken care of.

Travel is sluggish for riders on a section of the MBTA's Green Line that opened about a year ago.

Regular riders of the Green Line Extension are understandably frustrated.

"It's very stressful when you know you have to get to work and you're sitting there," T rider June Freund said.

"It's super choppy, like, you know, you're driving and then it's like, 'Stop, go, stop, go,'" added Ryan Simpson, another regular T rider.

"It can actually maybe still be faster than driving with the amount of car traffic," said rider Maya Duffy, sounding a more optimistic tone.

Some riders are finding a way to work around the issues.

"We plan for it now," AJ Muoio said. "We get there a little earlier and make it to work on time, but it definitely added a few minutes for us the first few days, for sure."

"There's always kinks, so you gotta work the kinks out," Freund noted.

Eng said the fact that parts of the Green Line Extension tracks are not in alignment on the Green Line Extension "certainly is unusual." In fact, he called some of those trouble spots defects. But he said his team has the issue under control.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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