The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is closing the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) related to the completion of repair work on a section of Orange Line track known as the Tufts Curve, located in the tunnel between Tufts Medical Center and Back Bay Stations. The repairs were performed as part of one of the 39 CAPs the MBTA wrote in response to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Safety Management Inspection (SMI) Report conducted in 2022. The FTA officially closed the CAP in writing, confirming the MBTA’s repairs appropriately addressed the track conditions.
The work signifies an early milestone in the MBTA’s response to the FTA’s SMI Report. Key among the findings in the report were the significant track maintenance needs across the entire MBTA rail transit system. In these areas, trains are required to run at slower-than-normal speeds because of deficiencies caused by track wear and tear or other issues. Speed restrictions are put in place as a safety precaution to ensure rider safety.
“Employees and managers are committed to changing the course of the MBTA with top-to-bottom infrastructure improvements to improve safety and reliability,” said Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO Gina Fiandaca. “We are pleased the FTA has officially closed the Corrective Action Plan pertaining to the Orange Line corridor known as the Tufts Curve, and we continue to be sharply focused on repairing the remaining track issues in other rail corridors.”
The Tufts Curve repair work eliminates a major speed restriction along a 981-foot section of the track, northbound and southbound, allowing Orange Line trains to safely increase their operating speed to the full design speed in that section of the tunnel. Speed restrictions on the Tufts Curve were reduced to 10 mph in 2019. In the summer of 2022, the MBTA shut down the Orange Line for a 30-day period to complete critical track and signal upgrades, which allowed the northbound Tufts Curve speed restriction to be raised from 10 mph to 18 mph. With the latest repairs now complete, the speed is fully restored in both directions along the curve.
“Accomplishing this work was truly a team effort with contributions from many groups, including our engineers, maintenance, capital transformation and compliance experts,” said MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng. “I thank them for their dedication and hard work to address the vital track infrastructure work. While there is still work to do across the system, the completion of the Tufts Curve section of track represents an important step towards restoring the level of service our riders deserve.”
The challenging repair work on the Tufts Curve was complex and time-consuming due to the geometry of the curved track and the extremely limited work windows primarily available at night. Work crews often faced the challenges of mobilizing and demobilizing heavy equipment, personnel and materials within a few short hours before returning the track for the morning commute.
The completion of the Tufts Curve repair and the FTA’s CAP closure, specifically Special Directive 22-04 CAP 3, is the second CAP closure in recent months. In March, the MBTA Vehicle Maintenance, with support from Quality, Compliance and Oversight, closed Special Directive 22-04 CAP 9, which restored the Green Line Work Trains and put them back into service.