When Will the MBTA's Slow Zones End? New GM Shares His Timeline

Phil Eng said crews will aim to replace nearly 2,000 feet of rail on the Blue Line in the coming weeks, which could require a month of nightly shutdowns

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The MBTA is targeting November to finish lifting speed restrictions on the Blue Line, and plans are still in development for similar issues affecting the rest of the subway system, new General Manager Phil Eng said Wednesday.

Eng outlined an initial sketch of the work ahead and steps required to resume full-speed operations on the Blue Line, one of the four major subway lines hamstrung by widespread slow zones that today blanket nearly a quarter of the system.

In the coming weeks, Eng told the T's Board of Directors, crews will aim to replace 1,950 feet of rail, 465 rail ties, and tamp 3,300 feet of track between Bowdoin and Aquarium stations, likely using an evening shutdown of subway service. That will allow the T to shave the percent of the line subject to slow zones from 43% to 28%, he estimated, speeding up travel and allowing the agency to run trains more frequently.

The Boston Globe reported that the Blue Line could be shut down from 7 p.m. to the close of service for a time to allow more time for crews to work on the lines overnight.

“If we were to do the traditional way of just on the overnight, six months, we then push out all the work that we need to do on the other lines,” Eng said. “This way we think it’s balanced. It’s progressing in a much quicker manner.”

Eng said the T is aiming to lift all Blue Line speed restrictions "no later than November" -- which would be eight months after MBTA officials suddenly expanded slow zones across the system -- and that officials are exploring other ways to "accelerate" the timeline.

He said he expects to have a timeline for the Red Line, 26% of which is subject to slow zones, in the near future, followed by the Orange Line.

"We're working aggressively to be able to provide a full schedule for the full system so everybody, including the board, the public, knows when we're planning to tackle it," Eng said.

Copyright State House News Service
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