MBTA: Expect Service Changes This Summer As North Station Work Begins, Will Affect Both Commuter Rail Lines In Wilmington

Below is a press release from the MBTA, shared by the Town of Wilmington:

BOSTON, MA — As part of the MBTA’s Capital Program, the MBTA will perform critical signal work as part of the North Station Terminal Area Signal System Improvement Project and the Commuter Rail Automatic Train Control (ATC) Project. In order to accomplish this important work, Commuter Rail lines that operate out of North Station will experience some service changes this summer, affecting riders on the Newburyport/Rockport, Haverhill, Fitchburg, and Lowell Commuter Rail lines.

“The critical signal work taking place this summer at the North Station terminal area helps the T to upgrade the kinds of behind-the-scenes signal infrastructure that riders might not see every day, but can have an enormous impact on their commutes. When the work is finished, the new state-of-the-art signaling system at North Station will improve resiliency and reduce delays, ultimately providing a more reliable ride for our north side Commuter Rail riders,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “This summer, we’re also making important safety improvements through the installation of ATC systems on the Newburyport/Rockport line. I want to thank our north side Commuter Rail riders for their patience this summer while we accomplish this important work.”

More Information on the North Station Terminal Area Signal System Improvement Project Work:

The current signal system that controls the movement of MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak trains in and out of North Station is obsolete and ready to be replaced. Beginning this July and August 2022, the MBTA is upgrading the old relay-based signal system to a new, state-of-the-art, microprocessor-based system. This is the first of a three-phase cut-over process. When complete, the new system will allow for less maintenance, improved resiliency, reduced train delays, and improved reliability. The project also includes the installation of two new crossovers, which will allow for more train routing options to improve operations through the terminal area.

Although the project limits span only about one mile, this area includes a complex network of tracks and switches that connect the station tracks at North Station, five major Commuter Rail lines, and the Boston Engine Terminal where trains are stored and maintained. This project is part of a larger initiative to enhance train capacity at North Station, supporting the future growth of the MBTA and Amtrak. This work will also be accomplished in conjunction with a future project that will replace the drawbridges over the Charles River – both projects will allow for the use of all 12 tracks at North Station. With a total budget of $45.2 million, the North Station Terminal Area Signal System Improvement Project will complete the final signal system cut-overs in the spring of 2023.

During construction, all Commuter Rail lines that operate out of North Station will experience some service changes, affecting riders on the Newburyport/Rockport, Haverhill, Fitchburg, and Lowell Commuter Rail lines. Riders are encouraged to visit mbta.com/NorthStationT-Alerts, and mbta.com/CR for the latest service updates, impacts, schedules, and service alternatives.

More Information on Summer 2022 Newburyport/Rockport ATC Work:

In parallel with the North Station Terminal Area Signal System Improvement Project work that is taking place this summer, ATC installation work is also taking place on the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail line.

The MBTA is upgrading the signal system to add ATC as part of Positive Train Control (PTC), a federally required safety control system that monitors a train’s location, direction, and speed in real time and reduces speed when needed. Phase I of the PTC Program was completed in 2020. Phase II includes the implementation of ATC. Through the use of signal indications within the train cab in addition to using physical signal lights along the tracks, the ATC system alerts the train engineer of potentially unsafe conditions. If the crew does not respond to the ATC alert, the system will automatically slow or stop the train.

ATC was successfully completed on time in 2020 for Commuter Rail lines operating out of South Station. ATC is now currently underway for all Commuter Rail lines operating out of North Station with work taking place this summer 2022 on the Newburyport/Rockport line. Riders should visit mbta.com/CR for the latest service updates, impacts, schedules, and service alternatives.

During this ATC work, MBTA Capital Programs will also accomplish critical bridge work and maintenance along the lines. In particular, during the late summer and into the fall on the Newburyport/Rockport line, the Capital Programs team will work on the commissioning of the second bascule span on the Gloucester Drawbridge and the installation of the replacement of the Commercial Street Bridge in Lynn.

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