MBTA: 55 Reports Of Train Crossing Issues In Wilmington Over Past 15 Months

WILMINGTON, MA — At Monday night’s Board of Selectmen Meeting, Town Manager Jeff Hull provided a summary of a recent Zoom meeting between officials from the Town and the MBTA over rail cross safety issues in Wilmington.

On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, Hull, Selectwoman Chair Lilia Maseli, Selectwoman Judy O’Connell, State Senator Bruce Tarr, and State Representative David Robertson held a virtual meeting with MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville, MBTA Chief of Staff David Abdoo, MBTA Chief Railroad Officer Ryan Coholan, and Keolis CEO Abdellah Chaijai.

Gonneville reported that the MBTA recorded 35 occurrences of gate issues in Wilmington in 2021, with an additional 20 gate issues to date in 2022.

Gonneville explained when snow/salt combination is on the tracks, it can interrupt the electrical current falsely suggesting something is on the rails. He noted there is no technology to overcome the snow/salt sensitivity. DPWs in other communities have discussed applying less sand and salt near tracks, but the obvious downside is untreated crossing areas would become slick and hazardous.

Town officials provided MBTA with an update on the most recent gate issues on Glen Road and Salem Street. MBTA was asked why only certain crossings in Wilmington appear to be experiencing the majority of the irregular gate activity. MBTA officials were unable to offer an explanation, but will review the latest accounts.

MBTA officials re-stated the steps its taking to enhance safety at the North Wilmington Railroad Crossing, first announced on February 22.

Hull shared some additional takeaways from the conversation:

  • MBTA has a staff of 30 that oversees the Keolis contract to operate commuter rail service.
  • The Keolis contract is the largest contract in the Commonwealth.
  • There are four maintenance facilities throughout the transit system, with one located in Wilmington.
  • A total of 36 signal maintainers respond to issues throughout the commuter rail system, and 18-20 sign maintainers operate out of the Wilmington facility.
  • Wilmington hosts the largest maintenance facility outside of Boston.
  • MBTA has a call center that operates 24/7 receiving calls about issues with the system and dispatches signal maintainers.
  • MBTA says it exceeds the inspection schedule required under the Code of Federal Regulations with inspections occurring on 30-day, 90-day, annual and 10-year cycles.

Town and MBTA officials will hold another Zoom meeting on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

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