MBTA removes 19 safety speed restrictions on Blue Line

May 2, 2024
The removal of the 19 safety speed restrictions along more than five miles of the Blue Line will give riders more than three minutes of travel time back.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has completed critical track work on the Blue Line. Crews were able to lift 19 safety-related speed restrictions along more than five miles of the Blue Line, gaining back more than three minutes of travel time for riders. The Blue Line is now free of all speed restrictions and there are now less than 100 speed restrictions across the MBTA system for the first time since March 2023. 

The success of this Blue Line diversion was achieved through the collaborative effort between contractor crews and the MBTA workforce – much of the work was able to be successfully completed due to the assistance and expertise of the MBTA’s Maintenance of Way Department. During the height of the work performed, more than 200 workers from five contractor groups alongside MBTA track maintenance, signals, capital, power, facilities and logistics forces all worked across the Blue Line. 

To accomplish this work, Blue Line service was replaced with shuttle buses between Maverick and Wonderland every day from April 17 to April 21. Beginning April 22, the Blue Line service suspension was shifted between Airport and Wonderland. It was previously anticipated that Blue Line train service would resume on April 28 but the service suspension was extended two days to April 30 to allow crews additional time to complete the promised work. Evening Blue Line service was also suspended between Bowdoin and Orient Heights April 9 through April 11.  

“Thank you to our riders and the communities that we serve for your patience and flexibility as we completed critical work to repair and replace track infrastructure along the entire Blue Line,” said MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng. “With each diversion, we are fulfilling our commitment to giving our riders the safe and more reliable trip that they deserve.”  

Among the critical work: 

  • Replaced 22,500 feet of rail. 
  • Replaced more than 9,000 feet of overhead catenary wire.  
  • Replaced more than 10,000 crossties. 
  • Installed 48 composite ties at trip stops.  
  • Approximately 41,000 feet of track was surfaced and tamped. 
  • Replaced approximately 1,000 feet of full depth track. 
  • Replaced approximately 700 feet of restraining rail. 
  • Installed approximately 35 switch timbers. 
  • Repaired stairways at Wonderland, Orient Heights and Wood Island. 
  • Performed station inspections and standpipe testing. 
  • Repaired the operator’s platform within the non-passenger area on Wonderland and operator’s walkway at Orient Heights. 
  • Replaced approximately 500 feet of fencing between Beachmont and Revere Beach. 
  • Repaired roof canopies at Wood Island, Orient Heights and Suffolk Downs. 

“I’m proud of our workforce and the contractors that have worked tireless hours, making this our first line to be restriction-free after beginning the Track Improvement Program,” Eng said. “Riders along this corridor rely heavily on the Blue Line, as well as the many travelers that visit Massachusetts. While there is still more work to do across the system, they can now experience a shorter and smoother trip. We continue to make significant strides to perform this vital work due to the efforts of everyone involved and improved planning, scoping and execution as we work to restore public trust to make the MBTA the preferred choice of travel.” 

A variety of other in-station work also took place along the Blue Line to further enhance the rider experience, including:  

  • Cleaning, sanding and painting wooden station benches 
  • Painting doors, sign frames, barrels, sand boxes and fences 
  • Door repairs 
  • Yellow tactile edging repairs to platforms 
  • Flooring repairs to prevent tripping hazards  
  • Concrete repairs 
  • Wall repairs 
  • Stairway upgrades and repairs, including handrail repairs 
  • Waste receptacle replacements 
  • Pump room, plumbing and HVAC maintenance and repairs 
  • Cleaning and replacement of mile markers 
  • Powerwashing and cleaning work 
  • Installing/replacing station signage, including system maps. 

The full list of removed safety-related speed restrictions can be found on MBTA’s website